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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World of Bivalves

One of the few things this area is known for, other than the colourful Coasties themselves, is the Oysters. Some of the best oysters I’ve ever had have been from Patonga Creek, round the corner from me. Lovely, uniodine-y (creates new word), smooth and pale tasting.

So I was excited last year to see the Brisbane Water Oyster Festival advertised – over 2 days! Entertainment! Crafts! Seafood! We went; we were saddened. It was apparently the first year the event had been staged over 2 days, and our attendance on the extra day* was a disappointment. How many seafood stalls were there at the Oyster Festival 2011 Amazing Extra Day? One. One solitary, lonely & unloved stall amongst a sea of crappy tat stalls, set in the unlovely surrounds of the Ettalong Markets. Mr Chopsticks tried to cheer me up by pointing out that It Is The Central Coast, but this only served to highlight how unlike the culinary delights of Sydney the place can be. The crushing disappointment of this reminder made me cross all day.

So when I saw the ads leading up the this year’s Oyster Festival, I’d already written it off as pointless. However, our planned entertainment for that day fell through and, drifting listlessly in the sea of Ought To Do Something With Our Weekend, we decided to go. Continue reading