Been hitting the local café pretty hard and looking to put some decent mileage between you and another $10 lunch wrap special? Perhaps a mini road trip is in order.
Mix up your culinary calendar and head to one of these incredible restaurants within two hours’ drive of the city for a unique dining experience outside of your norm.
Saddles, Mount White
In less time than it takes you to find, order, and have your Uber Eats delivered, you could be perched on a sprawling deck overlooking the dam of a 10-hectare Mount White estate while snacking on Kingfish crudo. Surrounded by bushland, Saddles boasts a menu that utilises the best local and seasonal produce, including ingredients harvested from their onsite garden. With an ETA of 50 minutes from the CBD, you’ll be back home in time for afternoon tea—comprised of the takeaway pastries you buy from Saddles’ bakery on your way out).
Pearls on the Beach, Pearl Beach
Where better to dine on a sunny summer’s day than metres from the sandy shores of Pearl Beach? Loved by locals and tourists alike, Pearls on the Beach serves hat-worthy food from a converted beach cottage with picturesque ocean views. As its proximity to the water would suggest, the menu here is swimming with fresh seafood—with the scallop entrée and barramundi main among their most popular dishes. If you’re looking for a luxe lunch experience on the central coast, book a table asap.
Muse Kitchen, Hunter Valley
Located within the sprawling grounds of Keith Tulloch Winery, Muse kitchen is the sister venue of the renowned Muse Restaurant (the latter of which is only open for dinner). There’s a French-farmhouse vibe to this popular lunch locale, with a menu that celebrates seasonal local produce. Might be worth finding a designated driver or waiting until dry January is behind you, though, because after the two-hour drive to get here you’re definitely going to want to sample the amazing wine menu.
Cottage Point Inn, Cottage Point
Yes, it’s as quant and delightful as its name suggests. A modern Australian waterfront restaurant in Ku Ring Gai National Park, Cottage Point Inn is a fine dining experience well worth the trip. Take in the incredible views of the Hawkesbury from inside the converted old-boathouse (that once served as a general store and post office for the river community) or from a table on the deck while devouring their seven-course degustation menu. At $150 per head it’s a decent jump from your humble $10 wrap deal, but boy can you taste the difference.
Eschalot, Southern Highlands
There’s no shortage of delicious food options down in the Southern Highlands, but Eschalot takes the cake (or lemon curd tart, in this case). Located in the small town of Berrima, head chef Matty Roberts serves modern and innovative dishes from a charming stone cottage steeped in history. Open for lunch on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, you can choose between the chef’s ‘feed me’ menu, the 5-course tasting menu, or the a la carte menu featuring the best seasonal produce.
Scarborough Hotel, Scarborough
Perched on a hill on the south coast somewhere between Stanwell and Thirroul, the heritage listed Scarborough Hotel is the oldest licensed premises in the Illawarra. Not only is the place teeming with coastal charm, it also boasts a spectacular sea cliff garden with sprawling views of the coastline. The family-friendly hotel serves up classic pub food with a focus on fresh seafood. If you’re looking to make a day of it, take the scenic route along Lawrence Hargrave Drive to get there, then take a dip at one of the many beautiful beaches dotting the surrounding coastline.