The Cowrie is set up on the hill overlooking Terrigal and the ocean. For 35 years it’s been one of the top restaurants on the Central Coast (if not the best) and it has won a long list of industry accolades.
The restaurant itself is housed in a refurbished cottage which seems a little weird as it’s in a suburban area with residential houses on either side and pretty much no parking. During the day the view is amazing (we ate with Mum in 2008 for Mothers Day) but you aren’t as blessed at night. What the restaurant lacks in location it makes up for in food.
Don’t think that because you’re 2 hours north of the city the food and service quality is diminished. The food is divine. The service is excellent. Modern Australian menu with a French flair, executed with care and technique; the menu is small and thoughtful with emphasis on seafood but including a small selection of meat/poultry and one vegetarian option per course.
A late-week restaurant selection by James surprised Jay & I, since we had been before we knew that it wasn’t light on the wallet, but nevertheless the four of us go out for a nice adults only dinner (puppies are left at home). Nat is 6 months preggers and I am doing my 30-day-alcohol-free-cleanse so we both abstain from the matching wines and stick with mineral water and fruit cocktails. We all forgo the degustation menu ($110/150 pp) in lieu of al a carte.
Nat has the Porcini mushroom and Jerusalem artichoke risotto with hazelnut and Parmesan (vegetarian/gluten friendly).
James has the Crispy roulade of pork belly with caramelised apple, creamed parnip and calvados jus and matches it with a glass of Grasshopper Pinot Noir from NZ. The wine smells so good, I get the waitress to write it down for me so I can find it after my cleanse is over!
Jay & I both have the Seared scallops with prawn and salmon ravioli on baby spinach over shellfish and lemon grass bisque. The scallops are cooked perfectly; seared on either side and firm in the centre. The lemon-grass foam is fragrant and accompanies perfectly with the scallops. I wonder why havent I seen this match before? The pièce de résistance is definitely the salmon ravioli. I am in heaven. The ravioli is light and creamy and my taste buds are alight in joy! I instantly think about ways I can replicate this at home. Jay matches his with a glass of Vinden Verdelho from the Pokolbin.
Being a vegetarian Nat is generally used to being limited for choice when out at a restaurant. After the success of her entree she expresses joy with the limited options and is looking forward to her Goats curd and creme fraiche tortellini with butternut squash and truffle veloute, swiss brown mushrooms, spinach and Parmesan crisps. When it arrives I must admit that I would order it in a heartbeat!
James, Jay & I can’t go past the steak….or as the menu reads the Roasted beef eye fillet on Cabernet braised beetroot with kipfler potatoes and onion and horseradish sauce. The beef is so perfectly tender and the horseradish sauce is a sweet-peppery accompaniment. We have a dish of veggies to liven up our plate and the boys have the recommended matching wine which is a glass of the Angus Cabernet Sauvignon (the same that the beetroot is braised in).
How could we not? But we are almost bursting, so we agree to share two desserts between us and order coffees (skim flat white for me, hot chocolate for Nat and Jamacian coffees for the boys).
We share the Warm chocolate pudding with sour cream icecream and hot chocolate sauce and the Tiramisu. It is way too chocolatey! (There was a creme brulee on the menu but it is flavoured with cardamon; of which I am not a fan) We each have about two mouthfuls of each because of the chocolate intensity. The tiramisu is layered and flavoured well but is ruined by a too-heavy dusting of cocoa powder which actually goes up the nose when you eat it. The sour cream icecream is a pleasant surprise and is the saving grace that cuts through the sickly sweetness of both desserts. At least they look pretty!
Overall it is a beautiful night with excellent food and even better company. But I think the bill is better suited to a special occasion than a friendly catchup with friends!
+ pluses +
- great menu, artistic, well executed food
- excellent wine list
- friendly staff, quick service
– minuses –
- no view at night
- Saturday surcharge $2 pp
- 2% AMEX surcharge
- limited parking in residential streets