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Rick Stein at Bannisters Mollymook

I’ve been a big fan of Rick Stein since I can remember. There was always something about his voice, relaxed homestyle cooking and exotic destinations that would find me sitting in front of his program for hours on end. Naturally when I found out he was married to an Australian woman and had a restaurant on the south coast I immediately added it to my bucket list. For those that don’t know, Rick Stein is a name synonymous with cooking, most notably the preparation of seafood. He has published and presented numerous cookery related books and television shows and owns a number of restaurants in his hometown in Padstow UK. In 2011 on a book tour to Sydney he met his current wife and the rest they say is history!

On a recent trip down to the south coast I was fortunate enough to eat at Rick Stein at Bannisters Mollymook, where Rick takes the reigns as head chef. The restaurant is located on the north east corner of the hotel, looking out to the ocean – we sat at the window which made all the difference! The menu boasts only the freshest and readily available seafood – if it’s not to standard on a particular day, it isn’t served.

We let our waiter Peter (who is also the manager) suggest his favourite menu items and took it from there. After much deliberation we finalised our order and let Peter match each course with a suitable glass of wine, which to his credit was spot on every time.

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We started with a selection of entrees including the Clyde River Oysters with Urchin Roe and a glass of Croser Champagne. We moved onto the steamed Warm Shellfish with an effortlessly simple parsley, chilli, garlic, oil and lemon dressing and finally the standout Lobster Ravioli – quite possibly the nicest seafood dish I’ve ever tasted! Peter matched the entrees with a 2013 Mitchell Watervale Riesling from the Clare Valley, wonderfully complex and complementary. Keep an eye out for it if you’re a Riesling fan.

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Picking the mains was easy. Rick is famous for both his Fish Pie recipe and his travels to India, so we opted for the Pie containing a mix of salmon, barramundi, snapper, scallops and prawns in a fish veloute sauce and the Madras Fish Curry. The southern style hot and sour fish curry draws on Rick’s time in India and utilises one of his favourite varieties of fish, the Blue Eye Trevalla. I overlooked the Scarborough Chardonnay at entree (not something I usually do!) on Peter’s recommendation, for mains he suggested the Scarborough Pinot Noir Rose, which I was relatively unfamiliar with, however it provided the perfect balance to the rich mains.

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Following mains we decided to indulge in a couple of desserts to cleanse our sweet palate. Usually I’m not a sweet man but at Rick Stein’s dessert was an immensely difficult choice. Whilst Peter assured us all were excellent, I was very pleased with both our choices, the Hot Chocolate Fondant and Lemon Tart with Local Blueberry Compote paired with a Innocent Bystander Moscato and Woodstock Bortrytis Semillion from McLaren Vale. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable dessert is with a glass of sweet wine (and a beautiful view)!

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Peter has developed a wine list that both considers, and complements Rick’s hearty dishes and exotic flavours. Whether you’re a fan of Rick Stein or not, his restaurant is a fish lover’s mecca and certainly worth a visit if you’re staying in the local area – definitely if you’re staying Bannisters.