Share plates and casual social dining are a big thing on the Central Coast. We’ve got plenty of options, and mostly they’re all pretty amazing. Many, though, are quite cuisine specific. Lebanese and Turkish mezza. Greek mezé. Spanish tapas and Mexican feasts and Italian pizza and antipasti. It’s all here on the coast, but rarely can you walk into one place and have so much choice.
Luckily for us, Four Hands Tapas & Pizza Bar is that place!
Four Hands Tapas & Pizza Bar has been operating in the same space at Terrigal for just over a decade now. That’s no small achievement for any hospitality venue in this day and age, especially when you take into account the number of venues at Terrigal that have come and gone over the years. But when you visit you’ll know as soon as you arrive why Four Hands has the staying power.
Spaghetti Bolognese is a classic dish all around the world. Especially us Aussies and Brits with our “Spag Bol”. We all grew up eating it. Near every Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant we went to served it, and our mums made it near every week. But, there’s one place in the world where you’ll never find Spaghetti Bolognese… Italy!
That’s right. Spaghetti Bolognese is not, and has never been, a thing in Italy. In fact, most of what we’ve been cooking, or is served, as Bolognese Sauce outside of Italy is nothing like proper Ragù alla Bolognese at all!
What we get most of the time is more likely just cooked beef mince swimming in a tomato sauce. That’s the exact opposite of what a good Ragù alla Bolognese should be.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think ‘Spag Bol’ has long since become a dish all its own. There’s nothing wrong with cooking up a big pot of Aussie Bolognese sauce full of tinned tomatoes, garlic and half a bottle of Masterfood’s Italian Herb Seasoning. Piling all that on top of spaghetti (all covered with cheese) and mopping up the sauce with garlic bread is an Australian institution!
But, it is time we separated the Italian-inspired dish we created from the authentic dish named after the Bologna region Italy where it was invented. So here, as traditional as I can make it with but a couple of slight variations, is my recipe for Ragù alla Bolognese.
As soon as you walk through the door, you just know the latest iteration of The Lucky Bee from owners Rupert Noffs and Chef Matty Bennett is going to be something different. Something special.
The colour scheme is one I haven’t seen since I was a kid, and immediately it takes me places. My great grandparent’s beach-house at Bateau Bay was decked out in the same tiki-bar green and pale pink. There’s ample kitschy decoration to round out the ambience – disco balls and ornamental exotica – and a 50s-60s soundtrack that makes me yearn for Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon to come bounding through the door.
It’s a comforting retro combination for me, but also exciting because it signals something playful and adventurous that wants to push against our expectations.
And when the cocktails and food begin to arrive, I discover that is exactly what The Lucky Bee is all about. Playful takes on Southeast Asian dishes, so full of flavour you can’t help but smile as you share them with friends.
Growing up as an Aussie kid in the 70s and 80s the secret to cheap, quick and easy meals for our hard working parents was, and still is, the humble mince. Spaghetti Bolognese, meatloaf, rissoles, tacos, and the pinnacle of meal versatility…the one-pot savoury mince!
As homely and comforting as this classic dish is on its own, there are so many ways you can use and modify the base recipe. My version below is packed with vegetables and cooked with pasta. You can use most any short pasta – macaroni, shells, penne, rigatoni, fusilli, casarecce, orecchiette – or you can leave out the pasta and serve over rice or mashed potato. For other non-pasta options, you can put the savoury mince in a casserole dish and spread mashed potato and cheese on top to make a cottage pie. Stuff a baked jacket potato with it. You could even put in inside puff pastry to make pasties.
Amongst all the hustle and bustle of Terrigal’s waterfront district, it would be easy to miss Yellowtail Restaurant‘s nondescript entrance. I beg you not to, because it’s here that owner Scott Price and Head Chef Alastair Burke are serving up some of the Central Coast’s finest dining.
Opened in Spring of 2016, Yellowtail’s small and intimate 35-seat dining experience, quickly became a must-visit destination for lovers of Modern Australian cuisine. The menu always tends towards an experimental blend of Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours featuring fresh local produce that lends itself perfectly to wine pairing. Which is partly what makes this wine dinner collaboration with Barossa Valley winemaker Andrew Quin all the more intriguing.
NOTE: This is a review of the Yellowtail + Quin Wines dinner held Thursday 22nd June 2023, and does not necessarily reflect their standard à la carte menu.
On a clear sunny day there is no finer view on the Central Coast than the one you’ll find looking out from the balcony at Terrigal’s The Cowrie. Nestled high on the hill overlooking the bustling Terrigal beachside, the restaurant offers stunning panoramic ocean and bay views.
What’s better is that their fine dining cuisine is even more magnificent than the vista!
At just on 18 months since taking over the iconic Central Coast venue, Owner/Executive Chef Dimitris Aronis and his Head Chef Reece Timora have transformed The Cowrie into something special. Championing locally sourced and seasonally driven produce, the menu is as light, fresh and modern as the revamped décor.
Little Miss Mezza is West Gosford’s recently opened sister to Motel Mezza at Wyong, but there is nothing little about this venue or its food. The blend of traditional Lebanese flavours with Modern Australian techniques, coupled with a great wine and cocktail list, make a fresh and welcome addition to the Central Coast food-scene.
Debuting at the beginning of February 2023 in the newly refurbished West Gosford Village shopping centre, Little Miss Mezza is the mastermind of Meraki Group Director Tara Senam, her business partner Nick Waldon-Howe, and Executive Chef Joshua Grant.
It’s worth noting that the word ‘Meraki‘ is a Greek word that roughly means “something done with great care, love and passion”. It is a meaning that explains a lot about how the Meraki Group venues are operated, and this especially shines through at Little Miss Mezza.
Most of the time, I’m not the one at The Grape & Grain to choose the wine. I do the cooking, and generally leave the wine pairing to my wife. She’s so much better at it than I am.
Occasionally, she’ll throw me a curve-ball and message me with a wine selection before I’ve had a chance to come up with the menu. “Here,” she says. “I’d like you to cook something to go with this!”
That’s always much harder for me: working backwards from Wine to Food. It’s not a process I enjoy and would rather just cook the food.
Vintage 2022 is getting underway in wineries all across New South Wales — and progressively in other states as well — as summer turns slowly towards autumn. All across the country, crews are out picking fruit that will be turned into our favourite wines.
But, in the wake of years of intense climate change, recently broken droughts, devastating bushfires, and a wet and humid La Nina year, how are things looking down there in the vineyards?
To get the answers, I asked some of the best winemakers from the Hunter Valley, Mudgee, Orange and the Southern Highlands wine regions their thoughts. The responses I received were as varied as their winemaking styles and personalities but consensus is clear that, given a little luck with the weather, this year should be a cracker for good wine.
Here’s what they told me…
Suq (souk) /suːk/ – a bazaar, a marketplace, especially in the Middle East and India.
As soon as you know the meaning of the name, you’ll understand the restaurant.
For many years we’ve come to expect a particular cultural cuisine when we visit a restaurant. We tend to categorise our food by countries and regions: French, Chinese, Indian and Thai, Turkish Mezze and Spanish Tapas. Suq Restaurant at Wamberal on the Central Coast takes a different approach, with one of the most eclectic menus we’ve encountered.
It is a Friday night in Ettalong, not long after COVID lockdown restrictions have eased, and Safran Restaurant is bustling with activity. To be honest, it’s very easy to see why.
First opened by Chef Suleyman “Sulo” Kirbancioglua and his wife Natalie in 2013, and earning its first AGFG Chef’s Hat in 2020, Safran has become a bit of an institution for Central Coast locals. Specialising in Contemporary Turkish cuisine, Safran will be quite a revelation for those only familiar with late-night kebabs, food truck gözleme, and chips dipped in humus. Here, Chef Sulo shows us the true wonders of what Turkish food can offer.