On Friday 28/12/2007 L, Jac and I took a ferry to Tea Gardens (I’m not even going to attempt to describe the geographical location of Tea Gardens – I’d recommend you see the Google Map here, and check out the Tea Gardens website for further info). D stayed home – she’s training to become a helicopter pilot and had exams to study for. She’s totally dedicated and studied on most of the days that we stayed with the girls (I say “most” because she did take Christmas day off!). Hopefully the next time we’re all together again she’ll be fully qualified and will be able to take us on a helicopter ride!
It took approximately one hour to get to Tea Gardens (we paid AU$20 each for return adult tickets). It was a very pleasant trip, with the captain providing historical and geographical commentary during the journey, pointing out landmarks of interest. We even got to see dolphins along the way. No need to pay for a dolphin watching cruise (also available at the Nelson Bay marina).
This was the ferry we took to Tea Gardens.
Once we’d arrived, we walked by the river and checked out the restaurants and cafes to decide where to have lunch. Along the way we saw a couple of fancy public barbecues, decorated in mosaic.
Mumm’s on the Myall
At the Commercial Fishermen’s Cooperative
Marine Drive, Tea Gardens NSW
We studied the specials on the door of Mumm’s and Jac was quite keen to try the tasting plate with gravlax, a selection of cold meats and seafood. Unfortunately, after we’d sat down we found out that that special was no longer available. We stayed anyway, as the view was lovely, and Jac decided she’d have oysters instead.
This was the view from our table.
I found it quite interesting watching the pelicans. We also saw the dolphins again as we ate our lunch. It really was a lovely spot.
I had the fisherman’s catch (AU$23.80), which consisted of fish, scallops, squid, prawns and chips and one oyster kilpatrick. I gave the oyster to L and the scallop coral to Jac. The fish’s beer batter was crisp, the fish tasted beautifully fresh (I’d hope so, from a restaurant affiliated with a fishermen’s co-op!), the chips were very good and the prawns satisfyingly bursty inside the crumbed coating. There wasn’t enough tartare sauce though! That’s a weeny sauce dish!
According to Jac and L, the oysters kilpatrick (AU$16.80 for Jac’s half dozen) tasted more of barbecue sauce than Worchestershire sauce. There was a generous amount of bacon, which was most welcome, but the sauce was extremely thick and gluggy (no doubt because it was made predominantly from barbecue rather than Worchestershire sauce), which made it a little difficult to tip the lot into one’s mouth.
Jac and L both ordered the garlic prawns (AU$15.80, entree size). The prawns were bursty and the creamy sauce was delicious, but Jac said she’d have preferred the prawns served next to rather than on top of the rice – the rice had absorbed most of the sauce, and she’d rather have had more sauce on the prawns instead. I didn’t mind – after I’d finished my meal and Jac had had enough of hers I helped finish off her saucy rice.
By the time we were done with lunch it was pretty warm, and the pelicans had settled in for a nap.
Nicole’s Art Gallery and Cafe
81 Marine Drive, Tea Gardens NSW
We decided to have sweets at Nicole’s. I love the black cat illustrations! The black cat in various guises was on the menus and all signs, including the toilet signs. There’s a shop inside the cafe which sells all sorts of cat-themed items, including stationery, bags and T-shirts. If you’re a cat and cutesy stuff lover it’s worth a look. I would’ve bought a cat T-shirt but the sizes available were all too big.
It is lovely to sit in the gardens beneath the trees.
There are various plants and water features all around.
If there really were cats about, there soon wouldn’t be this many fish in the pond.
Jac ordered a lemon meringue pie. The lemon tang was nice and sharp, and she really enjoyed the lemon part, which was more like lemon cheesecake than the usual lemon meringue pie filling – it was richer and creamier than lemon curd. I really liked the heart-shaped blobs of chocolate sauce in the runny cream.
L had the baked espresso coffee and hazelnut cheesecake. I tried a little of this – it had a thick, rich consistency and was hazelnutty all the way through . The coffee flavour was strong but not at all bitter – it was delicious. Both the lemon meringue pie and coffee and hazelnut cheesecake had almond and biscuit bases.
The only sweet I felt like was scones with jam and cream, but we were warned that scones would take a while – the kitchen was very busy. As we didn’t want to miss the ferry, I decided to just have a cold drink and not have scones after all – little tastes of the others’ desserts proved sufficient.
It was quite windy on the trip back, but still very pleasant. I managed to take a few more photos:
This is a view of Mumm’s from the other side, from the water. We’d sat under the smaller yellowish umbrella you can just see beneath the larger triangular shades.
They call this bridge the Singing Bridge – apparently it “sings” when there’s a strong south-westerly breeze blowing.
Here’s my David Attenborough moment – though I don’t know what kind of birds these are. Pretty cool to see them all together like that, eh?
A view of kayaks on the shore. Non-Photoshopped (none of these photos are) – the water was really that greeny.
That evening, we all went out for dinner.
Corona’s Bar & Grill
Nelson Bay Breeze Resort
Cnr Shoal Bay Rd and Trafalgar St, Nelson Bay NSW
We shared a serve of margarita prawns (AU$16.00 or thereabouts) for starters. These are grilled king prawns wrapped in bacon, served with salad. I enjoyed the prawns, but thought five prawns for $16.00 was pretty expensive, especially considering the protein to salad ratio.
The specials board was brought to our table so we could peruse what was on offer. L chose the veal special and D the blue eyed cod. Jac and I chose from the menu – she had pork ribs and I had a combo platter of barbecued king prawns and chicken wings.
A couple of things to explain the lack of photos: first – we sat outside, and by the time our main courses were served it was very dark. I did try to take photos, but they turned out terrible – I really need to invest in a specialised low light camera. The thing is, even if I didn’t want to photograph the food, sitting in the near dark in a poorly lit restaurant is one of my pet peeves. I’m not saying I want to sit in a particularly brightly lit restaurant – I have no problem with mood lighting – but I’d like to be able to see what I’m eating. I’d like to be able to appreciate the colours and the chef’s presentation of my food. That’s something I’m paying for, after all! Secondly – our meals weren’t very good anyway. The prawns were grossly overcooked, the chips soggy and the chicken wings had no flavour. Jac’s ribs came in a too-thin, too-runny bland sauce – ribs should be really tasty, with sauce that sticks to your face and fingers! These ribs were nothing like that – so disappointing. I think the girls’ meals were okay, but to put it frankly, this was easily the worst of the meals we ate while dining out on our holiday. Our waitress was really nice, but there was nothing she could do about overcooked or bland food! It was a shame, really. At least the company was good. :)
The highlight of the meal for D was her coffee/dessert – she ordered an affogato. This, as I understand, is usually freshly brewed strong espresso coffee poured over vanilla ice cream. Corona’s version of affogato consists of the coffee, ice cream and a shooter glass of liqueur AND a chocolate brownie. You would pour the liqueur, then the coffee over the ice cream, and eat/drink that with the brownie. Sounds pretty decadent! For her liqueur D chose Frangelico (that yummy hazelnut liqueur – visit the official site here) and absolutely loved it. She and L reckon they’d never come across Frangelico in the UK – Jac and I couldn’t believe it! Anyway, one of the parting gifts we got for the girls was a bottle of Frangelico, and D vowed she would try out all the recipes in the little booklet that was attached to the bottle. There was one recipe that called for Frangelico, ginger beer and lime, which I thought sounded most intriguing. I must ask D how that one turned out! :)
Phew… I’m only halfway through the holiday posts!