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A chef’s guide to South Coast food

Bangalay Dining, Shoalhaven HeadsCREDIT: Bangalay Luxury Villas

Bangalay Dining chef Simon Evans.

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A chef’s guide to
South Coast food

Bangalay Dining, Shoalhaven Heads CREDIT: Bangalay Luxury Villas

Bangalay Dining chef Simon Evans.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #lovensw #newsouthwales

Simon Evans is the executive chef at Bangalay Dining, the fine-dining restaurant at Bangalay Luxury Villas. This Shoalhaven Heads coastal retreat is around a two-hour drive south of Sydney on the New South Wales South Coast. Simon also co-owns the Night Parrot Bar & Kitchen in Wollongong, an hour’s drive south from Sydney, and co-hosts The Food Fight podcast, in which he discusses food culture with cookbook publisher Stef Posthuma. Here Simon shares his tips on where to indulge in fabulous food on the South Coast. 

After running an award-winning restaurant, Caveau in Wollongong, and now with your role at Bangalay Dining, you must know every food producer on the South Coast. Who impresses you with their commitment to quality? And where can we go to sample great fresh produce and artisanal treats at the source? 

“We definitely had a focus on using local producers where possible at Caveau, with a lot of them being on the South Coast, so being at Bangalay now we’re even closer to them and I hope to create even closer working relationships with them. 

“There’s a great array of producers down here: cheese and yoghurt from The Pines in Kiama [find them at Kiama Farmers’ Market in Kiama every Wednesday afternoon]; Buena Vista Farm in Gerringong [a working farm offering tours and cooking and gardening classes]; Strong Organics in Nowra [find them at Berry Farmers’ Market in Berry every Thursday afternoon]; and Terrewah Farm [which offers luxury farm stays] in Kangaroo Valley

“I’m working with Vincentia Butchery, in Vincentia, who I think are awesome: they stock only local and sustainable products, and are really on the ball with who and where they source their products from. Then we have some of the best wagyu beef in the country from Schottlander [which also hosts farm stays] in Gerringong. Not to mention a whole coast of sensational oyster farms in Wapengo, Tathra, Pambula and Merimbula.” 

Where would you take visiting friends or family to show them what food and wine experiences the region offers? 

“The farmer’s markets here are amazing, and unlike a lot of other markets, everyone selling produce is from the local area, so you will find an absolute bounty of fresh ingredients.  

“The Kiama and Berry markets are a great start to get a snapshot of what’s being produced down here, as well as the oyster farms — there really is no better or fresher way to taste an oyster that going direct to the source.  

“Obviously I’d have to take them to Bangalay Dining for dinner, but I also love South on Albany in Berry. John Evans and Sonia Greig do an amazing job championing the local area with simple yet precise dishes. Further south, I love Cupitt’s Estate in Ulladulla: they’re a restaurant, winery, brewery and fromagerie, and they grow a lot of their own produce. I honestly don’t know how they find the time! It’s all excellent quality.” 

Besides creating amazing food at Bangalay Dining, you also run Night Parrot Bar & Kitchen in Wollongong, as well as co-host a podcast. You must be busy! Do you have any favourite places to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat on the drive between Wollongong and Shoalhaven Heads? 

“There are some great spots to stop at in Kiama, Gerringong and Gerroa or, with a little detour, the beautiful town of Berry, where you have Il Locale Gelato, as well as Milkwood Bakery and the Hungry Monkey for awesome burgers.  

In Kiama, I like Flour Water Salt BakeryWild Patch Cafe and Diggies by the blowhole, and in Gerroa, The Blue Swimmer restaurant. There really is so much choice and it’s near impossible to get a bad coffee down here!” 

Kiama Farmer's Markets, Kiama CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Kiama Farmer's

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Kiama Farmer's Markets, Kiama CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Kiama Farmer's

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Bangalay Dining, Shoalhaven Heads CREDIT: Anna Wiewiora

The breezy Bangalay Dining restaurant at Bangalay Luxury Villas in Shoalhaven Heads.

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Bangalay Dining, Shoalhaven Heads CREDIT: Anna Wiewiora

The breezy Bangalay Dining restaurant at Bangalay Luxury Villas in Shoalhaven Heads.

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You’re a sommelier as well as a chef. Which local wineries really stand out for you? And which wines in particular should we look for?

“Semillon! I can’t bang on enough about how much I love this grape, and we have some world-class wines made from this grape right here at Coolangatta Estate [a five-minute drive from Bangalay Luxury Villas in Coolangatta]. As a young wine the Coolangatta Estate Semillon resembles a riesling; with a few more years it starts to show chardonnay/chablis vibes with some oak characteristics (even though it is fermented solely in a steel tank) and with 20-plus years can build sweet raisin flavours. It’s a fascinating wine. Coolangatta also produces an excellent tannat, a high-tannin Hungarian variety.  

“My other favourite producer is Cupitt’s. They produce an estate sauvignon blanc that’s fermented in barrel, so it’s a more serious-tasting sauvignon. They also bring in grapes from the NSW Hilltops and Canberra District regions. Hilltops is an area that excels in producing Italian varietals such as nebbiolo.” 

If a Bangalay guest asks you to recommend a great place to eat further along the South Coast, where would you send them? 

“There are some really special spots further down the coast. In Bermagui there’s Honorbread sourdough bakery and Boneless Vegetarian Cafe. The Tathra Hotel in Tathra is home to Humpback Brewery, a microbrewery operating inside the pub! And in Merimbula, there’s former regional bar of the year Dulcie’s Cottage and its sister restaurant Valentina. Then there’s the fine-dining Banksia Restaurant in Pambula.”

You make use of foraged plants at Bangalay Dining as part of a strong focus on Australian native ingredients on the menu. Where do you go in the local area to find these wild ingredients? “We’ve been utilising a lot of things right on our doorstep at Bangalay, like warrigal greens, beach mustard, saltbush, turkey rhubarb, oxalis, seablite and samphire, all found within a kilometre of the restaurant. One of my favourite wild ingredients, rock samphire, I have yet to find here, so I make sure to forage some on my way down from Wollongong.” 

Cupitt's Winery, Ulladulla CREDIT: Destination NSW

Women enjoying food and drink with scenic views across Cupitt's Winery in Ulladulla.

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Cupitt's Winery, Ulladulla CREDIT: Destination NSW

Women enjoying food and drink with scenic views across Cupitt's Winery in Ulladulla.

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Tathra Hotel, Tathra CREDIT: Destination NSW

Diners enjoying food and drink at Tathra Hotel, Tathra.

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Tathra Hotel, Tathra CREDIT: Destination NSW

Diners enjoying food and drink at Tathra Hotel, Tathra.

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