Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had a relaxing break and made the most of the awesome beach weather that Sydney had over the new year. I love nothing more in summer than to soak up some rays on the sand and occasionally go for a dip in the ocean on really hot days. All this lying around on the beach works up an appetite, so it’s always handy to have some tasty lunch options when hitting the beach.
Dee Why is a beautiful beach situated north of Manly, and when Manly Beach gets too crowded, I like to head here. It’s got a relaxed, family-oriented atmosphere with a strip of cafes and restaurants directly opposite the beach to feed hungry bellies. Today, we checked out Deck Bar and Dining, a newly renovated casual restaurant which was packed with beachgoers. While the downstairs area has more of a casual bar feel, upstairs there is restaurant seating as well as lounges with colourful cushions, daybeds and hanging egg chairs which are perfect for chilling out.
We start with some cocktails – an Agave Margarita for Sir D and an embarrassingly named drink called Velvet Vulva for me. Is it wrong to say that it was delicious?
Instead of ordering individual items from the menu, we decided to let head chef Nicholas Baldwin take the reins and send out whatever he wanted to us. The menu features food inspired from his travels through Asia and South America, so don’t be surprised when you see satay skewers alongside pulled pork tacos. We sampled a tasting plate of some of the Asian street food shared items, so the portions in the photos may not reflect the portions of the individual items ordered separately.
The Thai fish cakes were moist and fragrant, and didn’t have as much kaffir lime and chilli flavour as I was expecting – a good thing for me since I’m not a big fan of either of those ingredients! The fish cakes were served with a tangy nam jim dipping sauce.
The Vietnamese spring rolls were light and refreshing – perfect for a beachside meal. Containing sliced pork, fresh prawns, rice noodles, Vietnamese mint and Thai basil wrapped up in a rice paper sheet, they weren’t spring rolls in the traditional sense, but were definitely delicious.
Malaysian satay skewers occupied another corner of the tasting plate, piled with a liberal amount of satay sauce and fried shallots. The chicken was tender but the satay sauce tasted unusual with less sweetness than others that I’ve eaten. The sauce was quite thick and oily, and didn’t adhere to the skewers that well. The peanuts also tasted a little over-roasted.
To round out our little culinary tour of Asia, we finished with some Chinese potstickers filled with pork and prawn. The dumpling skins were similar to those on yum cha har gow (prawn dumplings) – glutinous and chewy. It was an interesting texture against the slightly crispy fried edges but luckily the dumpling skins were thin enough so that it wasn’t too rubbery.
Another board of tacos took us on a trip to South America, featuring the three flavours of tacos available at Deck. All the corn tortillas are made in house and are flavoured differently according to the filling. The prawn taco contained two fat Yamba prawns deglazed in tequila with fresh lime and charred fennel. The banana tortilla imparted a subtle sweetness to the taco, and the cabbage, cactus and banana flower salad provided crunch.
The slow roasted pork was paired with chervil salsa and passionfruit, making an interesting flavour combination leaning towards the sweet side. This time, the tortilla was a crispy shallot and maple tortilla which amplified the sweet passionfruit pulp on the pork. It was quite unique and I was surprised at how well the flavours melded together.
My favourite was the baja fish taco with crumbed and fried John Dory pieces and a homemade tartare sauce. I have a weakness for fried fish but who can blame me when the fish was flaky and moist with a feather light batter? The tortilla to match with this filling was a lemon and herb flavoured one.
Somehow we managed to find room to squeeze in a dessert, and out came a small plate of picarones – small pumpkin/sweet potato doughnuts. These discs of fried dough were lightly dusted with sugar for sweetness and bright orange on the inside! They came with a fruit sauce that had an aniseed flavour so we steered away from that (not being licorice fans) and stuck with the whipped cream and giant plump raspberries. Surprisingly, they were not stodgy and despite our full bellies, we managed to finish off the plate!
It was such a nice day that we stayed a while to enjoy the seabreeze and play on the hanging wicker egg chairs lol. Well I did, while Sir D just laughed at me.
The upstairs area was quite popular and when we left, we noticed that some of the areas were being set up for a function later on that evening. With the open areal, beachfront view and the comfortable seating, it would be a great place to have drinks and canapes with a group on a balmy summer night.
Penguin says Feed Me dined at Deck Bar & Dining courtesy of Helen Lear and Deck.
Deck Bar & Dining
2/23 The Strand
Dee Why NSW 2099
Ph: +61 2 9971 0744
Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday, 11:30am to midnight; Saturday, 11am to midnight; Sunday, 9am to 10pm