Oscar's Grill - Towradgi Beach Hotel, NSW

Oscar's Grill Towradgi Beach Hotel on Urbanspoon It is where children can romp freely, mothers can group up to relax, fathers can have a beer - and a family can all come together in one vehicle. In the evenings, dating men and women can be seen over various parts of the spacious lay out - or they are hidden in clusters with their mates. A varied children's play area suggests as a McDonald's, but it offers better than fast food, although the popular wedges emphasise casualness and informality.  It opens till late, is licensed, provides a variety of reasonably prized steaks and seafood from its grill and yet has a pub like atmosphere.  There are pool tables, high chairs, several large screens mostly showing Fox Sports and outdoor seating. The staff are friendly, the floor is level flat and there is easy parking on its outer grounds. Welcome to Oscar's Grill in Towradgi, a suburb three kilometres north of Wollongong CBD.

If only it was beside the ocean!  In reality, Oscar's is located in front of an inland road, part of a complex of buildings that variously function as a motel, liquor outlet and more. Some low level apartment blocks have sprung up behind.  Guests cannot see any beach.  What they do feel, enjoy and view are relaxed gatherings, neighbourhood people and catching up with friends and acquaintances.  At lunchtime, dinner or after that, they are all spread out, in the out deck, indoors, hanging around the bar, seated in the back courtyard and settled elsewhere.

The kitchen is transparent.  You help yourself to your own napkins, cutlery and sauces. The menu can be standard, but there is always the blackboard specials. My favourites have been the pork ribs, with its messy barbecue sauces and the fettucine gambari, fresh large prawns looking pink and standing as they nestle in the al dente pasta.  Today I had a light salad with seared scallops.  A little boy was playing with his Mum's Galaxy S3 smart mobile phone and waved to the three of us having lunch outside the glass partition. Steaks are well served and salads are thoughtfully made. Then there are the burgers, deep fried calamari and coffee.

On Friday nights, there are the battles of the bands. Weekends in the warm season there can be bike and car displays, food festivals, blues gigs and expositions for kids. I witnessed a mini Masterchef for kids one winter's afternoon.  I have enjoyed outings there with colleagues, close mates, neighbours and visitors. Practical priced breakfasts are offered till 1030am.  Fish burgers, lamb rumps and pizzas indicate the diversity of what Oscar's can offer. Modern Australian, with touches of Italian and an icon of the Wollongong area, Oscar's can be viewed by some parts of society here as working class, middle income and university student crowd.  Whatever the label thrown at it, it has withstood the test of time in bringing in the customers to have a fine time there. Just like Nathaniel Willemse belting out the lyrics of his song on X Factor Australia: "Gotta feeling that tonight's going to be a good night" when anyone walks into Oscar's.

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