Beach Club at the Watsons Bay Hotel

Picture perfect: Beach Club at the Watson's Bay Hotel.
Picture perfect: Views from the Beach Club at the Watson's Bay Hotel. Photo: Fiona Morris

Sarah McInerney

If the title of ''Sydney's most Instagrammable restaurant'' existed, the newly-renovated Watsons Bay Hotel could well be in the running, and not just because of the water views.

Take the woman seated at the table next to me during a Saturday lunchtime visit. Not content to snap away at her own meal, she leans over - smartphone at the ready - to ask if she can take a photo of mine. "It just looks so fantastic," she says.

A metal pail bursting with bright orange prawns on a wooden board is certainly eye- catching, but also sums up the spirit of the Beach Club. It's relaxed dining with a sense of fun, and food that strikes a nice balance between pub grub and seaside fare.

Chicken Waldorf salad.
Fresh: Chicken Waldorf salad. Photo: Fiona Morris

More than $2 million was spent on the restaurant's multi-level renovation. The decor mixes beachside chic with a touch of whimsy. Much of the abundant outside seating is at painted wooden picnic tables positioned to maximise access to the stunning view. Striped beach umbrellas provide protection from the sun and seagulls. Children are looked after too. There's a little table and chairs in one corner with paper and pencils at the ready, plus a special section on the menu.

It's the details that make this place particularly photo-worthy, and many boxes on the ''2013 restaurant hot list'' have been ticked. Food is served in jars and enamel receptacles, and the flowers are housed in old bottles and conical flasks. The condiments table ranges from Sriracha hot sauce and American mustard to salt in old-school metal shakers. #instafood anyone?

The buzzing crowd is a certain kind of Sydney melting pot, a mix of tourists and eastern suburbs locals; mates just in from the beach, young families and glammed up retirees. Order at the bar and a buzzer is supplied. Do this by courses if you don't want everything to come at once. The drinks list is compact but comprehensive and includes several wines by the glass and cocktails.

The crab and yabbie linguine.
The crab and yabbie linguine.

The food menu, designed by executive chef John Pye, has broad appeal, with the beachside classic fish 'n' chips on the menu as well as a fresh seafood platter and that bucket of prawns. The wooden board may make the dish even more photogenic, but it is missing a component - a finger bowl to wipe off the prawn detritus. And never mind the lacklustre smoked chilli mayo it is served with, head straight to the condiments table and grab the cocktail sauce.

For the health conscious there's a quinoa based ''superfood salad''. The dressing is sweet but not overly so and the salad is full of lovely textures. The red quinoa is mixed with pumpkin, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, onion, chickpeas, eggplant and pepitas for crunch.

Seafood options include a linguine pasta served with a generous portion of succulent crab meat and two yabbies on top. The oil- based sauce has a subtle spike of heat from the diced chillies and undercurrent of lemon. The pasta is on the right side of al dente, just.

The deconstructed pavlova.
The deconstructed pavlova.

There are burgers and lamb ribs and fluffy-on-the-inside beer-battered chips that don't last long on the table.

For a sweet finish, there are three options. The deconstructed pavlova could be a top-notch dessert but on this visit it is let down by the execution. The lemon curd is a lovely tart contrast to the sweetness of the blueberries. But the meringue is a little overcooked.

Wandering around at the end of the meal, I find myself reaching for my phone. It seems I'm not immune to the #instafood-ability of the Watson's Bay Hotel, or should I say, @WatsonsBayBoutiqueHotel, either.

Crowd-pleasing beachside fare in a spectacular setting.

Recommended dishes 
Bucket of tiger prawns, super food salad, beer-battered chips.

3.5 stars (out of five)


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  • Cuisine - Modern Australian
  • Prices - Starters $18-$43, mains $22-$30, salads $18-$20, sides $8-$10, desserts $12-$14, kids' mains $10.
  • Features - Licensed, Outdoor seating, Views, Family friendly
  • Chef(s) - John Pye
  • Opening Hours - Mon-Sat 7am to midnight, Sun 7am to 10pm
  • Author - Sarah McInerney

5 comments so far

  • Ate there last Saturday night. Food was extremely disappointing. We started with salt and pepper calamari which was very oily and left a filmy taste in everyone's mouth. For mains we ordered 3 steaks and 1 yabbie and crab linguine. The linguine was inedible , with way too much oil and garlic was overpowering. The steaks were not cooked to how we ordered and the meat was tough and dry. The garlic butter on the steaks was still frozen and when it did half melt it was a horrible garlic taste .I'd only recommend having a beer there for the view.

    Rose Bay
    Date and time
    November 16, 2013, 9:39AM
  • The fact they spent $2 million to refurbish the hotel doesn't mean they can charge $30 for a PRE COOKED, fatty piece of meat - disgusting!!!!!

    Rob vdm
    Watsons Bay
    Date and time
    November 16, 2013, 11:00PM
  • What no mention of the marauding seagulls? Last time we lunched at Watson's Bay Hotel the seagulls took many of the meals from the plate before reaching the table!!

    Let's hope things have changed. Some discrete netting over the eating area may limit the problem.

    Otherwise this was always a fantastic venue.

    dee why
    Date and time
    November 16, 2013, 11:54PM
  • How hard is it to do a wine list with a bit of thought? 9 white wines on the list, 3 x Sav Blanc, 2 x Sem Sav Blanc, 1 x Pinot Gris (how different are these all going to taste?). The person that put this together was either lazy or loves Sav Blanc (or a derivative thereof). For those Chardonnay drinkers out there (guilty as charged), I'd prefer to have more than one option, and preferably other than from Orange (although I love the place, when did Orange become known as one of Australia's anything Chardonnay producers?). It would also be nice to be able to spend more than $39! But well done for charging $150 for Veuve which is available pretty widely at sub $50 these days, let alone what you get it for.

    Walsh Bay
    Date and time
    November 26, 2013, 4:28PM
  • I was a customer at your venue on 12 Jan 2014. I took my family for lunch to have a nice and enjoyable time.
    Looking at the menu I ordered a Waldorf salad as it looked really appetising. When the salad came I noticed that there was an extra ingredient that was not mentioned on the menu: cheese. As I am allergic to cheese, I am very sensitive and very careful in choosing the dishes I eat. I looked at the menu carefully again and there was no mention of cheese whatsoever. I took the plate back to the bar and asked why there was cheese there and ask if I could change for the one without. My request was refused and I only heard: "this is what Waldorf salad is".

    Rest assured I will not be coming back.

    Date and time
    January 31, 2014, 11:03PM

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