Iconic Sydney restaurants, there are a few. And they all tend to be next to some kinda water. There’s Berowra Waters Inn up north where you actually need to take a private water taxi to get there or if you’re balla status, land your seaplane or dock your boat. There’s also Bondi’s Icebergs where the well heeled grab a bite next to the most touristy beach on earth.

Today I popped down to Bather’s Pavilion in Balmoral, which is like one of those picture postcard places you see in picture postcards. The place screams for you to take photos. From the sturdy looking concrete pillars that line the beach, which is bloody white sands and azure waters to the Bather’s Pavilion itself, a brilliant building if there ever was one. The first time I saw it, was like across the water. Real small and tiny. Today, I saw it up close and it’s one of those places where the setting already makes you feel wonderful, nevermind the meal.

Which also happens to be good. They’ve got a single chef’s hat and they can be a touch pricey though. When we arrived, the cafe side was packed to the rafters and this was just Monday afternoon. The restaurant side conspicuously empty in comparison, with a couple tables taken. Must be something to do with the fact that they only do a 2 or 3 course prix fixe at $95 or $110 for lunch on weekdays. This figure rises to $110 and $125 on weekends/dinner. They also do an 8 course degu at $150 or $220 with matching wines.

I dunno about the degu or even the prix fixe menu but I’d love to just bring friends for some dessert or coffee or drinks or light snacks or something. It’s the place itself which feels so wonderful. You just got to love the blue font stuck on the glass door, the classy beachy steez and the view, oh the view.

That’s an image I stole off some NSW website. Pity I didn’t bring my camera. The view of the beach and the surrounding headlands is awesome. Sure it might reek of upper middle class money in the area but this has to be the prettiest little beach in Sydney.

Chef/Owner Serge Dansereau is the author of several cookbooks and a decent merchandiser as well, judging from his Bather’s Pavilion tote bags in navy and off white.

Oh the food’s pretty alright too. A touch pricey, even if you consider the cafe menu. I had some pan seared quail with boudin noir and pickled turnip. The quail was cooked nicely medium and the blood sausage was superb. But then again, I’d love any blood sausage. The turnip doesn’t sound half as awful as you might think, in fact its rather nice. Also a lovely jus and some muscatels rounded things out very nicely. The portion was smallish for the $20 odd it cost but it was done very well. A touch too big for an entree but really nice, simple and elegant. I also tried some of my companions’ food and the only other dish that struck me was some gnocchi with sage, burnt butter and whatever. The dumplings were really good. I never really get gnocchi but this one seems to make a lot of sense all of a sudden. Instead of a chewy, floury mess, it had just a touch of bite and fell away nicely to reveal the potato within. A very thin crisp layer made it superb. If I can find the recipe in his books, this is how I’m making gnocchi from now till I find something better.

We also had some pizza, which was passable. Nothing really good. I’d go as far as to say I think Crust makes a bigger and better pizza for the same price. Or Hugo’s does a better pizza for more money. Dessert was mostly decent. The one standout for me was a Chocolate Brownie and Peanut Butter Parfait with a lovely Chocolate Ganache on top. This came with some beautiful figs. The texture and flavor was really good with the ganache providing that little bit of excess that you want in desserts.

Definitely a place to show off to friends just for that Sydney vibe. You can’t get something like Bather’s anywhere else I think not.