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Noosa je ne sais quoi

Noosa has long been a great town for dining out. Fads come and go, but the restaurants in one of Queensland’s favourite holiday spots have mostly maintained a high standard. Combining fine food in a relaxed atmosphere with sophisticated but unpretentious service can be hard to get right.

These three outstanding restaurants could easily be in our capital cities, with their attention to detail, faultless service, and food that just sings. Each may have its own take on Modern Australian, but they all are blessed with gob-smacking views and a single-minded intent to showcase the very best protein and produce from the region.

Two front Noosa’s resort strip Hastings Street and back onto the golden sands of Noosa’s main beach. The other sits on the languid Noosa River at Noosaville. Not resting on their laurels, they continue to delight diners from all corners of the world.

Berardos Noosa candle

Berardos Bistro on the Beach is just that; steps from the golden sand of Laguna Bay, Noosa’s knockout main beach.

At the best table in the house, you can almost feel the sand between your toes. Some do as they make Berardo’s on the Beach their après beach breakfast or lunch spot.

Décor is beachside chic – all shiny white and cream during the day but surprisingly romantic with candlelit tables at night.

This is one of our go-to spots on Hastings Street, and it’s always good. Blackboard specials offers something a little different, but the regularly changing menu has lots of options for even the fussy eater. Yes, the beer-battered fish and chips are always good, and the burger makes a great substantial lunch.

Cocktails are suitably fruity and fun – an obligatory accompaniment as the sun goes down. The uncomplicated wine list runs from Margaret River to Coonawarra and beyond to the Loire. We chose a suitably dry, but food-friendly Paxton Rose from McLaren Vale.

Noosa This Magnificent Life
Prosciutto Entree at Berardos Bistro on the Beach Noosa

An entrée of gently roasted peaches, super fresh torn mozzarella, San Daniele Prosciutto, Noosa Red tomatoes, basil and pesto shows the chef’s deft hand at letting the produce shine. This should be called the ‘Cate Blanchett’ – it is ethereal – all light but with real substance. Chilli caramel pork belly with scallops is unctuous with just the right crackling crunch. The steak is cooked exactly as ordered, and the accompanying asparagus seems just picked from the garden.

Despite the belt loosening, we succumbed to a dessert of chewy brownies with salted caramel ice cream, as well as peaches and cream taken to a whole other level. The poached peach was paired with Pedro Ximenez, almond and mascarpone cream, toasted almonds, and vanilla bean ice cream. This wasn’t cloyingly sweet but delightful, a light bookend to a fabulous dinner.

Berardos Bistro on the beach is in the middle of all the action with a knock-out beachside location but somehow a haven away from it all.

Don’t let the exterior fool you; the Noosa Boathouse is a destination restaurant with serious food menus put together by the mastery of Executive Chef Shane Bailey. Shane is a Donovan’s Melbourne and Berardos on the Beach alumnus.

The restaurant has a reputation for continually finding new ways to be more sustainable with water, energy and waste. A local resident collects food scraps to use as compost for her vegetables and fruits. This saves 6 tonnes of food scraps annually going to landfill.

Rosemary and Duck Eggs at Noosa Boathouse

The wheelbarrow garden out the front of the restaurant is so ‘clean and green’ that the Boathouse’s resident duck has made it her favourite nesting spot with the bonus of super fresh duck eggs for the restaurant.

The décor is all about the views. The bottom level is the Bistro and is perched just above the water with the occasional pelican slowly floating by. One flight up is the River Room – kitted out to host any function from weddings to business functions.

Noosa Boathouse This Magnificent Life

The Sunset Bar on the top deck is one of the best spots on the coast to catch the sun going down while enjoying well-priced cocktails or a beer. Expansive views of the hinterland make this the place in Noosaville to finish a workday or start off your night.

Noosa Boathouse This Magnificent Life

Shane suggests an all-star selection from the menu for our three-person lunch. We start with a Fraser Island spanner crab with green mango salad served Miang style on betel leaves paired with a chilli and cane juice dressing with just the right chilli hit to not overpower the delicate crab. Scallops are wild-caught, baked, served on the shell, and served with sea urchin butter and apple, with cress from the front garden, which is nearly too pretty to eat.

Noosa Food & Wine 2017 This Magnificent Life

It’s hard to pick an overall best of show, but it’s probably a three-way battle between the barramundi with a knockout Noosa Reds salad and feta, the Nolan’s Private Selection rump from Gympie, served with a classic Café de Paris butter, and the slow-cooked pork belly with sensational Longrain Thai red curry sauce on the side with Asian veg and cucumber relish.

Doughnuts at the Noosa Boathouse

It has to be the legendary softly sugared ricotta baby doughnuts with 3 dipping sauces for dessert. These are fresh and warm, redolent with a little fragrant orange to highlight the sweet chocolate and berry sauces. The Noosa Boathouse exemplifies how eating locally sourced ingredients and conducting a business sustainably really shows where it matters: on the plate.

Season is also just a couple of steps across the boardwalk to Noosa’s main beach. Here too, menus reflect the climate and a casual seaside vibe. Décor is smart but the view of the beach is captivating.

Season Noosa This Magnificent Life

At night as the sand slowly moves from gold to silver and the water takes on that moody blue, you will be instantly transformed into holiday mode. Season has long been the fashionable spot in Noosa, but the food is the drawcard here. Opened years ago by the incomparable Gary Skelton the restaurant’s kitchen is now helmed by Andrew Tomlin.

The dinner menu is appropriately elegant ranging from freshly shucked oysters and panko crumbed zucchini to maple glazed quail or a spanner crab and baby clam spaghettini. There are also pizzas and provenance-listed steaks like a Cape Grim pasture/grass-fed rib on the bone. Desserts here are always pretty and, most importantly, delicious. A clever option is little things – small sweet bites to end the night with perhaps a little Frogmore Iced Riesling.

But we’re here for breakfast with what seems like half of Noosa – some just off the beach, others more formal, ready for a business meeting or a day of house hunting. A light sea breeze, a cornflower sky and a table overlooking the beach – what more could you want?

With stand-up paddle-boarding lessons in little over an hour, a hearty breakfast is required, although the granola with poached fruit, nuts, and yogurt looks a winner, as does the coconut yoghurt with strawberry and rhubarb compote. A freshly blended apple and watermelon juice and that view make for a great start to the day.

poached eggs, bacon and chilli jam at Season Noosa

Sometimes it just has to be bacon and eggs. Scrambled or poached, the eggs are cooked perfectly with plenty of smoky bacon and a great addition of a slightly spicy chilli jam and some avocado. A couple of flat whites to finish and we’re off to stand-up or what was really fall-down paddle-boarding.

These Noosa restaurants do have that intangible quality that makes them distinctive – a certain something; inexplicable but always delicious.

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Liz Bond

Liz Bond comes from a PR background and loves fine wine, great food and rewarding travel - all the magnificent things in life. She prides herself in an innate ability to meet famous celebrities at baggage carousels.

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