Newcastle’s food and wine scene is undergoing a renaissance with cafes, craft breweries and distilleries, waterside dining and multicultural eating establishments popping up all over the city. There are also definite advantages to being the gateway to Australia’s oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley. Wherever you find wine, you will find fine dining and many of our locals are training in these establishments and then setting up their own restaurants and cafes in Newcastle and surrounding suburbs. When it comes to seafood, Newcastle is well placed with our thriving fishing industry to offer some of the best seafood dining available anywhere.
Harrison’s Food & Wine
One such foodie heaven is Harrison’s, located on Tudor Street in Hamilton. Tony Harrison trained under Robert Molines of Bistro Molines fame up in the valley and moved on from there to become Head Chef of multi-award-winning seafood restaurant, Nor East Bistro.
Harrison’s training at Molines is evident in the superb wine list and the European influence on the menu. Diners can choose from a curated Chef’s Banquet or simply order from a selection of snacks, small plates or large plates. We love Baked ½ Shell Scallops with Mornay Gratin, Hand-shucked Oysters, Classic Olive & White Anchovy Gildas, Cuttlefish & Chorizo over Charcoal or Ceviche of Kingfish with Finger Lime & Caviar.
From the looks of things, Harrison's will soon be expanding their existing space... keep an eye out on their socials for more details.
Sometimes it’s the lure of a beachside city that draws exceptional chefs which has been the case for Scotties in Newcastle’s East End – located a stone’s throw away from the beach in what used to be a 1950s corner store. It’s a 16-year-old local favourite that in 2019 attracted the attention of Head Chef Joel Humphreys who has worked at such establishments as Rockpool, Bistro Moncur, and London’s St JOHN. With a fresh and sustainable seafood menu that is sourced locally, a cosy, minimalistic interior, outdoor seating and grassed area and a relaxed, neighbourly vibe, it’s a great place to people watch after a dip in the ocean.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a fish and chip shop, although, if that’s what you’re looking for you won’t be disappointed with a choice of Beer Battered or Grilled Fish & Chips. More surprisingly and most deliciously though, you’ll also find King Prawn Pancakes, Campari Cured Trout, and Blue Swimmer Crab Dumplings.
Scratchleys on the Wharf
In the case of Scratchleys, its iconic waterfront location and premium quality seafood is a Newcastle institution that features oysters supplied by yours truly. They’ve recently reopened Battlesticks at Scratchleys which is the ideal spot to enjoy a drink before or after dinner in the restaurant or to settle down with some tapas style share plates and make a night of it in the bar. There is no better restaurant view in the city.
There is a choice of seafood platters which are customer favourites, and you shouldn’t skip the ‘A’ Grade Port Stephens Oysters that come Natural, Kilpatrick or with Nam Jim Wasabi & Lime.
Vying for best seafood restaurant with water views in Newcastle is Honeysuckle’s Kingfish. It’s a family owned and operated restaurant whose owners Garry and Melissa Risteski are passionate about seafood and serving it as fresh, sustainably and simply as they can. The location is ideally situated along the wharf, with indoor and outdoor seating in a fresh and contemporary style that suits the food.
Also known for their seafood platters, their Cold Platter features Sydney Rock Oysters, Chef’s Cured Kingfish, Australian Tiger Prawns, Blue Swimmer Crab and Balmain Bugs. The menu is extensive, as is the beverage list, but don’t miss the house made gelato that the venue has invested a lot of research into and recommend as the ideal dessert after a seafood feast.
Brand new to the local scene and in a prime Honeysuckle waterfront location with a view of the water from every seat, is Thermidor Oyster Bar and Brasserie. Run by Josh and Jess Gregory, the pair have a shared background in fine dining with their experience reading like a Good Food Guide and including work at Adina, Muse Restaurant, Muse Kitchen, Subo, Bistro Molines, EXP, and Flotilla. A combination of Parisian bistro and San Fran oyster bar, the menu is inspired by the coast and features cooking over fire, a small, curated wine menu, and a cocktail list with twists on classics.
The raw fish selection changes daily and is served with olive oil and blood-orange dressing. Try the wood roasted oysters Kilpatrick with triple smoked bacon, traditional prawn cocktail or warm spanner crab doughnut. For a big celebration, why not give the grilled lobster thermidor with penne ala vodka a go? But do keep in mind that with a philosophy of serving only the best available produce, the menu will change frequently and be dictated in part by what the seafood suppliers can deliver.
Located in a historic heritage building that once housed the central hub of the region's railway system, and with Chef Dan James at the helm, Signal Box offers an extraordinary dining experience. With just about everything leaving the kitchen made in-house and from scratch, you’re bound to leave impressed.
We adore the Hiramasa kingfish sashimi and fried line caught loligo squid. With a quaint rooftop and ample outdoor seating, enjoying Dawson's freshly shucked oysters alongside a glass of Hunter Valleys own Usher Tinkler Prosecco should be high on the to do list. If you’re like us and also cherish a good seafood pasta, don’t go past the Queensland banana prawn & blue swimmer crab linguine. Oi chef.
Earp Distilling Co
Earp Distilling Co do so much more than bespoke spirits. When chef Niah Suksawaeng is involved, there is bound to be some serious seafood gold on the menu and a definite Asian influence. Earp do the perfect oyster toppings to complement our freshly shucked oysters. Enjoy oysters three ways - nahm jim, mango ponzu or wakame “xo” butter and lime.
Other seafood deliciousness can be found in the lobster rolls, the Hervey Bay scallops, or the kingfish ceviche served with nahm jim, mango, coconut and finger lime. Of course, this is a place to drink with an exhaustive drinks menu but why not give their tasting flights a try – there’s one dedicated to gin with five different flavours and another varietal dedicated to diversity with vodka, gin, rum, limoncello and orancello of absolute premium quality.
Another Honeysuckle gem, open for lunch and dinner and featuring traditional Japanese cuisine with a contemporary edge is Nagisa – an award-winning favourite. Founding chef Tetsuhiko Namba learned the traditions of Japanese food in Tokyo, travelled the world and eventually found himself in Newcastle where he was joined by his son Taiyo and chef Chris Schofield. Together they offer teppanyaki, fantastic sashimi and wonderful fusions and traditional twists to satisfy the tastebuds.
The chef’s selection sashimi is a highlight on the menu, as is the Maguro Tataki (pepper crusted tuna). For something a bit different, try Hokkaido Scallop Corn Potage with milk-soaked Hokkaido scallops, cream of roasted corn and parsley, salmon skin ‘bacon’ crisp and leek puree.
Light Years Asian Bar & Diner began in Byron Bay in 2017 but it didn’t take long for the delicious take on modern Asian share style food and unique cocktails to spread to Noosa, Burleigh Heads and lucky for us, Newcastle’s Darby Street. Spearheaded by Executive Chef Robbie Oijvali the food has a reputation for being bold, colourful, and full of punchy flavour.
The new menu features the freshest oysters from yours truly, and you can’t go past their Kingfish ceviche, tuna tartar or the mud crab, prawn and scallop dumplings. If you like things a little more satisfying, try the Singapore chilli prawns or order the turmeric and coconut curry with the market fish of the day.
It is our privilege and pleasure to supply many of these fabulous establishments with freshly shucked oysters. As the silly season really kicks in, we hope our rundown of seafood restaurants helps you choose the perfect location for your festive fun. We recommend booking early and if you miss out, why not pop into our store and prepare your own seafood feast to enjoy at home or on a picnic? Ask our friendly staff for advice, we’re only too happy to help.