THE WHALE RESTAURANT is an establishment my mother loves. The parental units live on Wallaga Lake just out of Bermagui on the South Coast of NSW. They are about 15mins from a fantastic coastal town called Narooma and Narooma is a South Coast tourist hub. With a caravan park, apartments and many AirBNBs, plus some fracking awesome waterways the place is a gem on the Coast. Add to this there is fresh oysters and seafood to be eaten everywhere and there are beaches and sun galore the place is bordering on perfect. Narooma is that little bit better because THE WHALE RESTAURANT is located on the top of the hill overlooking most of it.
I reviewed this wonderful restaurant with the folks about six months ago and apologies I am only getting to posting it now. Most of the meals are not on the current menu but they come and go as the venue is seasonal and produce related.
THE WHALE RESTAURANT VENUE:
The Whale Restaurant is located inside The Whale Motor Inn looking towards the greater end of North Eastern Narooma. The entire venue, both motel and restaurant, has the decor of what I would call Retro 1970s Yacht Club. It is quite interesting. I remember spending a lot of time as a child at a yacht club and this reminds me a lot of those times. It is the furniture you could imagine on one of Aristotle Onassiss’ boats. Having a large window view of the ocean definitely adds to its splendour and I was only sad I was not there in the middle of winter so I could wear my big thick cable knit sweater and smoke a pipe on the deck.
The venue is huge. It has a sitting room with potted plants, wooden veneered rooms with more seating, and a giant meeting table in another open room. Everywhere you look is nostalgic. I don’t think the place has been renovated in forty years but it has all been kept immaculate. I could imagine myself in my early teens was it not for the modern marvel that is their food.
Just phenomenal – cannot be faulted. Ex Pro surfer turned chef, Matthew Hoar heads up the small team in The Whale kitchen. A local Dalmeny Boy, he is South Coast blooded, preferring local ingredients and simple clean flavours. His menus are dynamic and change regularly depending on what is available from Jeff the butcher next door, Ben, his mate the fisherman, or the local providors. His menus are supplemented with foraged food from the beach, the bush, generous friends with an abundance of fresh goodies and their own Whale Garden.
The venue encourages Slow Food principles and are members of the Eurobodalla Slow Food Convivium. The Slow Food philosophy has now grown to a world-wide movement as it seeks to preserve the quality food traditions of the past.
Hoar’s cooking inspirations comes from his pro-surfing. Travelling the world for surfing he would take his meal allowance money and pig out at all the street vendors, these flavours have since become his cooking backbone and his inspiration to create some bloody marvels.
WHAT WE ATE:
We, of course, kicked off the evening with a Rose for mum and a bottle of 2015 Angove McLaren Vale Family Crest Shiraz for Mike and I. I basically only drink from McLaren Vale these days – such a snob. While it was a 2015 its youthfulness allowed to be mild and less heavy than your usual shiraz.
The parental units and I accompanied drinks with one of the best ceviches I have ever eaten. An Eden Flathead and Scallop Ceviche. It was served with a charred corn salsa, wild rice tostada, roast Whale Garden jalapeño cream, pepiats and kaffir lime dressing. The additional flavours were inspirational and that jalapeño cream should be bottled. It could only have been fresher if we were on the boat that caught it with Chef.
When in Narooma you MUST eat oysters so be sure to check out some of the selections on the menu. On the current menu I would recommend the Grilled Wagonga Inlet Rock Oyster with beach spinach and Montague Island kina butter. I am also planning a trip to the folks before the end of the year and I am hoping the House kasseler pork belly with Bumbo Road cauliflower, Ridge Road honey glaze and Bumbo Road cabbage sauerkraut is still on the entree list because WOW!
Mother Dearest actually ordered an entree to be served main size. It was the above Moruya Potato Gnocchi and while mum loved it, it was my favourite dish of the night. It’s served with roasted local organic pumpkin, pine nuts, Bumbo Road broad beans, wild saltbush and sage butter, Tilba Persian Feta and Whale Garden roquette. It was the most divine looking gnocchi I have ever seen and the tastes were as sublime as it looked. They don’t currently have this gnocchi on the menu but they do have a Moruya potato gnocchi with saffron and Tilba three cheese sauce and Whale Garden spring onion oil as an entree.
Mike, the Stepdad, ate the Char grilled “fisco” swordfish, with lemon myrtle and chilli dusted calamari, saffron risotto cake, roast capsicum and pine nut romesco, and a wild samphire salsa. I only ate one bite of this and can’t actually remember the calamari component. However the fish was cooked perfectly and the sauces Mike happily mopped up with bread – it got two thumbs up.
I indulged in one of my greatest weaknesses. Along with pork belly I will always order the duck. I ordered the Sous Vide Master Stock Duck Leg. Served with Moruya potato galette, Deau River peach, hazelnuts, fig agrodolce and Turlinjah organic watercress. Again everything was cooked to perfection. The strength in flavour from the master stock and the rich duck was perfectly balanced with the sweet and sour of the agrodolce and that salad was a breath of fresh salty town summer to accompany it. And serving the duck on the galette was another stroke of genius – everything oozed into the potato and I ate that last. Bravo!
We were all pretty full come dessert time so settled on coffees, myself sneaking in an affogato. I wish I had videoed the pour shots of the coffee into the ice-cream – mum and I poured more coffee onto the table cloth than in the actual cup. The pour photos did not make the cut lol.
On the current menu, if I had some time off, a car and free petrol I would drive to Narooma (and the parents of course) for the Mandarin & almond cake. Served with meringue drops, Scenic Drive lilly pilly, Mandarin and Lindt bittersweet chocolate curd, house made butter milk gelato and wild sorrel. Holy cow that makes me drool!
Again apologies nothing I ate is currently on the menu – excluding the affogato. I considered skipping the review altogether due to delay in posting but this place is too good not to share. If you plan on visiting the South Coast then hit me up for a list of must do things. If you need a place to stay my parents have a BnB (shameless plug) – Dragon’s Lair. And if in the Narooma area you MUST dine at The Whale – the food demands awards.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 0/1 bonus
The Whale Restaurant Deets:
PH: (02) 4476 2411
102 Wagonga Street ( Princes Highway), Narooma NSW 2546 Australia
BOOKINGS: Yes but walk ins available during the day
HOURS: Open Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm. Closed Sunday, Monday & most public holidays
PRICING: MEDIUM – Most expensive main – $37-
TAKEAWAY: I do not think so
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Yes
*** All meals at The Whale Restaurant were paid for ***