The Entrance Lake House

On another of our jaunts up to The Entrance to have a butchers at the bi-weekly market, we stopped in for lunch at The Lake House. What a treat! As you know by now, I’ve been spoilt by the bright lights and excellent food of Inner West Sydney being on my doorstep, and hence I’m on the look out, always, always, for a great place to hang and eat.

Strikes me that the Lake House is going to be fulfilling both in my life from now on.

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Even on a chilly, rainy day, the view out over Tuggerah Lake was restful from our table through big plate windows despite the few hardy souls, dressed inappropriately, fishing out in the rain. Skipping the breakfast menu containing the usual brekkie suspects, we opted for lunch, which came in two flavours, set, or a la carte. We knew we’d have to wait until noon for our lunch so, having ordered, we settled down to Toby’s Estate coffee and a quiet mull over the week just gone. Mr C said his espresso was a little burnt tasting but that was absolutely our only teeny complaint of the whole lunch. Which is to say, miniscule.

Whilst waiting we flipped through the drinks menu, happily noting a theme of lots of local stuff such as Rabbit Hole Tea from Erskineville (funny, never noticed the fields of camellia sinesis while we were there) & Anoint Herbal tea from Gosford. This time around we weren’t drinking, but we’re coming back for 4 Pines Kolsch (Manly) and draught Murrays Whale Ale (Port Stephens), and maybe a couple of the not so local but interesting sounding  Barossa Valley Organic ale.

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I was delighted with the water bottles; antique ex soda syphons collected from round and about. Who knew Woy Woy manufactured soda once upon a time?

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As we pondered the bygone glass and drinks manufacturing habits of here & about, the cafe steadily filled with bedraggled folks, all of whom looked immediately happier upon reaching the welcoming interior. Having only been open 4 months, the place has obviously already gained a loyal following. A large table was set with linen and balloons for a celebration. Caffeine fiends braved the outdoor tables to sup their espresso, ponder the view, and bugger off again. Upstairs boasted of function space and parties.

Just after noon, as promised, our food arrived.

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Trio of crispy pork belly, citrus caramel

My pork belly was awesome. Crispy, as advertised, but without that over-salted thing that happens when you try to quickly crisp a crackling. Attached to the meat – no cheating by removing and deep frying or grilling separately. Somehow delicately flavoured despite the use of normally robust fish sauce and coriander, spring onions. And the meat itself just the right side of cooked; gelatinous fat (this is a good thing), soft flesh perhaps just tending towards drying out but stopped just before. For a cafe, such a surprise that I think my eyebrows disappeared up into my hairline for a moment or two. And the caramel was indeed, citrusy. But not cloying. Phew.

For some reason I plumped for chips, a decision I guilted about for about 10 minutes after ordering, given that I’m meant to be cutting back on fats in my diet. I considered calling back the lovely waitress & swapping for a salad. Jees, am I glad I didn’t.

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I don’t want to over state things here, but these were the best chips I’ve ever had in my life. Even better than the chips cooked in beef fat at the chippy in Aldeburgh, Suffolk; better than Tommislav’s chips with vinegar spray, better than the sweet potato chips we had at that burger joint yonks ago when we were really hungry. They were heroic, thick, properly chuffed potatoes, fluffy as on the inside, glassy crunchy on the outside. Seriously, that picture in no way does them justice. Mr C, who had a whopping great plate of perfectly decent pasta, tucked into them with gusto before I stabbed him with my fork. Those dippy things, not that they were needed, were garlic aioli, chilli salt and a chilli sauce with a mystery ingredient we were scratching our head over for a while. I thought Worcester sauce. Which makes it sound grim, huh? But it wasn’t. It was yum.

Turning to Mr C’s prawn linguine:

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This was a good solid, garlicky, prawns n pasta affair. Great stuff, but, as he put it, I won.

9/10

The Entrance Lake House, 27 The Entrance RdThe EntranceNSW 02 4332 5253

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The Unintentional Food Tour of New Zealand

It was meant to be a walking holiday. You know, getting out into nature, the quiet, the solitude, the tweeting of only the birds. Bit of exercise to work off the flab of Christmas. Hopefully a bit cooler than the oppressive Sydney Summer.

As it turned out, NZ was in the middle of a mini heatwave, and temperatures topped 34 in the south of the South Island on Christmas day. Not prime walking conditions in my book, being a bit of a wuss when it comes to exertion.

Thus it was that we spent more time eating than we did actually hiking. And drinking beer. Lots of beer. Turns out that there’s something of a craft beer thing going on in NZ. Nice.

Our first hint of this occurred at the excellent Pomeroys in Christchurch. A cab ride from our accommodation, but worth every taxi cent. Huge range of local, proper beers from peeps such as 3 Boys, Four Avenues, Emersons and Harringtons. The 3 Boys coconut milk stout a particular favourite. Range of single malts for Mr Chopsticks, all with unpronounceable gaelic sounding names. He heartily recommends Balblair 2001 Vintage and Kilchoman ‘Machir Bay’ (apparently Islay’s smallest distillery). Burgers & cheese plate weren’t bad either. And there was live music. I mean, seriously, what else could you possibly want in a pub?

Next up, the initially incongruous seeming Japansese restaurant in Lake Tekapo village, Kohan. Incongruous until we realised there was an excellent salmon farm at nearby Mount Cook, that is. The salmon sashimi was sublime:IMG_2428  Continue reading