Seafood Extravaganza at Tidal Restaurant, Merimbula NSW

With the gentle waters of the inlet to Merimbula Lake at its doorstep, Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar on the Sapphire Coast is the perfect spot to enjoy some of the finest seafood in the country.

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, Merimbula -

Close to New South Wales’ southern border, Merimbula and the beautiful Sapphire Coast is home to some of the best seafood in the country.

Long famous for its Sydney rock oysters and seafood, the region has also developed a strong culinary reputation. Restaurants on the Sapphire Coast all seem to be able to turn the incredible local produce into unique, masterful dishes packed with flavour and creativity.

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, which opened in 2021, is in the hands of partners Chef Gavin Swalwell and Fiona Myers, both of whom have a long list of venerated venues in their resume.

We visited Gavin and Fi at Tidal during the annual Eat Merimbula food festival in March and were lucky enough to enjoy their Seafood Extravaganza dinner event.

Obviously, this event is not available all year round, but the a la carte options, which change seasonally, offer a whole range of delightful dishes we will definitely be exploring the next time we’re in town.

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, Merimbula

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar—Seafood Extravaganza

The airy restaurant, with its wide windows open to the sea breeze and ocean views, has a lovely atmosphere. Tables, which are politely spaced around the restaurant and none are parallel, soon fill with excited patrons.

Gavin and Fi are at the door and welcome us to our seats

We start the evening with cocktails. My Manhattan and Christina’s Hugo Spritz are not only delicious, but surprisingly affordable. A glance at the menu reveals one of the best priced drinks lists we’ve seen—especially in such a fine venue with this kind of location.

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, Merimbula - cocktails

Cocktails are all under $20, the wine we choose to go with dinner (local Pinot and Riesling) are $10 and $12 respectively, and even the single malt whisky is kind on the wallet; a tot of Hellyers Road Pinot Noir Finish will let you back just $12.

Dish #1

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, Merimbula - prosciutto and scallop

Dinner is to be a multi-course degustation showing off the flavours of the region. There are also some guest speakers we’re looking forward to hearing from, but to start off with, our entree of scallop wrapped in prosciutto arrives.

It’s a great start. Somehow, the prosciutto is crisp while the scallop within is perfectly cooked. Plump and juicy. And the corn puree underneath is velvety and sweet. It’s an eloquent dish that shows just how good the kitchen is.

Dish #2

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, Merimbula - Narooma rock oysters

Next is a dozen rock oysters from nearby Narooma with a barrel-aged mignonette. The onion in the mignonette is a bit chunky for my liking, but the oysters are so creamy and full of mineral qualities, and the barrel-ageing of the vinegar are beautiful.

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, Merimbula - Christina Butcher

Before the next course comes, we’re entertained by the evening’s guest speakers: Mick ‘Banjo’ Young, who runs Banjo’s Oyster Farm, and Ryan Morris, who is a second-generation abalone and sea-urchin diver for ATSSU Divers here on the Sapphire Coast.

They both have such interesting stories to tell.

Banjo talks about the difficulties he’s faced being an oyster farmer for over 33 years (and how he can play the banjo) and Ryan explains how it takes at least 17 people in the chain to process a single sea urchin.

It puts in perspective our previous dish and what we’re eating now.

Dish #3

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, Merimbula - tuna and sea urchin

Laid out on a plate, Southern Ocean tuna carpaccio has been sliced so thinly it’s transparent. And crowning the carpaccio is a lobe of sea urchin that melts into creamy liquid as you cut into it.

These two combine into such a delicate mouthful that embodies the flavour of the sea.

Dish #4

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, Merimbula - rock lobster

The last of the savoury dishes comes out next, and what a dish it is. Each person is served their own half a Sydney rock lobster from Narooma with a butter sambal on a bed of bok choy and watercress.

There’s just so much tasty tender meat in these lobsters. And to make it easier for everyone, they’ve been prepared by the kitchen with all the meat extracted and put back into the shell.

Dish #5

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, Merimbula - palate cleanser strawberry sorbet

Next, we see the sweet skills of the kitchen come out. From berries grown in the restaurants own garden, the strawberry sorbet palate-cleanser is something else. The flavours from this sorbet are extraordinary and the texture is almost gelato-smooth.

A beautifully crafted leaf-shaped biscuit tuille somehow accentuates the strawberry flavours.

Dish #6

Tidal Restaurant and Wine Bar, Merimbula - dessert poached peach

Finally, the last dish comes to us: baked peach and Chantilly cream, topped with a shard of toffee and a plump glossy toasted meringue. What a dessert this is. Real food artistry.

We leave Tidal feeling perfectly full yet not overindulged. The warm breeze floating over the inlet charms us and we fairly float home to our bed in the Hillcrest Motel looking down over this wonderful coastal town.

We dined as guests of Tidal Restaurant & Wine Bar and of Eat Festival, but our experiences and opinions remain our own.

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