The Harbourfront Restaurant, Wollongong Harbour, NSW
What differentiates the Harboufront Restaurant in Wollongong from its fellow practitioners? I reckon it is the quality of the seafood and the service. The ambiance may already be pre-determined by its harbour side setting, with guests being able to look out to the calm waters of a marina and further gaze into the escarpment holding tall above the Illawarra coast. It is the careful and friendly way the staff attend to you , from when you step in, to when you ask for things away from the menu, that make a difference. It is the texture, flavour and integrity of the ingredients used, plus the accompanying sauces and garnishing, that complete the satisfying picture.
Although I have been at the Harbour Front before for pre Christmas meals, it was a pleasure to visit it again to mark the Lunar New Year of the Snake, to relax with a good mate. I thoroughly enjoyed a great conversation, spurred on by three other wonderful experiences - the Long Board pale ale(local top the Illawarra and was served by the Harbourfront); the Sartorini prawns (photo above); and the affagato coffee consumed after the mains. My mate had the five point lamb rack, whilst I reaffirmed the Harbourfront's speciality in seafood by enjoying my choice of moist grilled salmon and a grilled scampi (picture below).
The chefs Joshua Marks and David Vidal have a gem going for them, the restaurant being winners of the category of Best Seafood, South Coast NSW as recently as last year. The restaurant also overlooks the fishing boats coming in occasionally from the day and night's outing to the Tasman Sea. Seasonal sensitivity in choice of ingredients may be a key factor. Established in 1984, Harbourfront continues to enjoy a neighbourhood with a renovated Belmore Basin, a demographic who appreciates surfing and other ocean side delights the ocean and more properties rising in value along next door Cliff Road.
There is no traffic rush on evenings in Wollongong CBD, unless there is an NRL game live at the nearby WIN Stadium. Summer lunchtime, or when the weather remains sunny and balmy during any season in the year, can pose vehicle parking issues but it is most often just a nice stroll away to the Harbourfront. I have hardly tried their meat offerings like Angus Scotch and their rib eye. There are Italian inspired creations with gnocchi, calamari and panna cotta, but I stand always with the John Dory, snapper, barramundi and Atlantic salmon served at the Harbourfront. They also have wedding function and dinner packages. I recall fondly their seafood platters, both with cold and warm items, as they handle crustaceans well. There is a reserve wine list, consisting of mainly Yalumbas, Penfolds and Henschke, plus a range of premium spirits like bourbons, Pimms, Cinzano, Bombay Sapphire and Captain Morgans rum. A ground floor venue accessible from the main upper two floor dining site also provides a more casual beach cafe option.