As the Central Coast continues on its tasty trajectory of becoming the next big culinary hot spot in regional Australia, the cafe, restaurant and bar scene is going from strength to strength.
Adding to the epicurean excitement in 2019 are some fabulous new openings including a gin and gelato bar, a new restaurant headed by a celebrity chef and an Australian-first hemp cafe.
Read on for some of the biggest and best things happening in the Coast’s drink and dining scene this year.
Combining a couple of our fave things under the one roof, or should we say in the same garden, a gin and gelato bar is set to open at Erina’s ‘Fragrant Garden’ in March.
Bar Botanica is the brain child of former Three Blue Ducks chef Dan Hughes, aka Mr Goaty, who’s popular gelato has been doing the rounds of local markets, events, festivals and weddings, since he moved to the Coast with his family a few years ago.
It was high time Mr Goaty opened his own place and what better place to put down roots than three acres of lush gardens with an endless supply of herbs and botanicals conveniently located across the way from Distillery Botanica, which is home to the Coast’s very own award-winning gin.
With a garden to plate philosophy, Bar Botanica will offer simple, fresh food alongside freshly roasted Mr Black coffee, Distillery Botanica’s gin and liquors, and 15 flavours of Mr Goaty Gelato.
Celebrity chef Sean Connolly is set to open his first Central Coast venue – The Bon Pavilion – in Gosford in March.
You might know Connolly from The Morrison in Sydney, Balcony Bar in Byron or even from his recent pop up at The Box, Ettalong.
In true Connolly style, the food will be simple, letting good quality local produce speak for itself.
The restaurant will be located in a John Singleton development – Bonython Tower – as the millionaire continues his efforts to revitalise Gosford.
It’s set to be managed by Brian and Karina Barry, who preside over Bells at Killcare and Pretty Beach House, and will boast seven venues all up, including a family-friendly restaurant called Bonfire, Bon Bon Espresso cafe, Bon Vin Private Dining which will be home to quality local and international wines, a cocktail and tapas bar as well as a bar specialising in craft beers and whisky.
South End Social is the latest hipster cafe to open in Gosford, helping the city take another step towards a brighter foodie future and offering locals and workers alike more options for their morning latte fix or after work spritz.
Located on the ground floor of the new Department of Finance Building on Mann Street, the cafe is promising inventive food, fine wine and the all-important fresh roasted coffee.
Brought to you by the team behind The Rollerdoor Espresso Bar in Erina, this crew is so serious about their brew they’re calling their new digs a ‘coffee lab’.
Like any CBD cafe worth its salt, SE Social provides a buzzy backdrop for lunch meetings, all-day caffeine fixes and after-work drinks in a stylish venue that is being brought to life by Stewart & Highfield and Hudson Lane.
An Australian-first hemp cafe has launched on the Coast.
Called Smoke on the Water, it’s sprung up in the space that used to be occupied by Lords of Pour (which has moved to a bigger location up the road) around the corner from the ferry at Ettalong.
It’s the place to go to try hot and cold hemp beverages including hemp coffee: a smooth mix of Colombian beans with hemp milk, which tastes a bit like the OG soy coffees – nutty and earthy; hemp shakes; hemp seed coffee; and hemp kombucha.
There’s even a hemp surfboard hanging on the wall.
The plant-based cafe also pours coffee with macadamia, almond and coconut milk, with treats including protein balls and vegan cakes from Woy Woy gluten-free cakery Fudge Monkey.
Serving up blissful breaky bowls in the AM and tasty plates in the PM, Bateau Beach Cafe is the newest foodie hot spot to open on the northern end of the Coast.
The focus here is on quality, seasonal, local produce and balanced, healthy food.
Since it opened at the start of January, locals have been savouring dishes such as seared scallops, steamed mussels and grilled halloumi for dinner from Thursday to Saturday nights.
While the brunch crowd has been munching on bircher bowls, corn fritters and eggs every which way.
Weekend on the Greens is the new family-friendly festival that has been transforming Woy Woy Bowling Club (or The Greens Woy Woy as it’s now known) into a hive of activity every Saturday and Sunday since the start of the year.
Making use of some prime real estate a stone’s throw from the water, locals Chris Farnon and Sam Perry couldn’t resist the opportunity to set up a beer garden in the idyllic location as a way of breathing life back into the Bowling Club after a turbulent few months.
From midday on the weekends, a pop-up bar offers refreshments from Six String, Onyx Espresso (espresso martini anyone?) and Shipyard Distillery, while food trucks roll onto the green, serving up everything from Caribbean-style jerk chicken to decadent retro sundaes.
Locals are invited to sit back and relax on a stool or bring a picnic rug and sprawl on the green, while savouring some local food and drink, and listening to some live music.
There are a few other Coastie movers and shakers doing some moving and shaking in 2019.
Since being purchased by Sydney investors late last year, the Sunken Money at Erina is set for a fresh start. We hear a new name and a new look are on the horizon for the creek-side venue.
Much-loved Ettalong cafe Lords of Pour has relocated up the road after outgrowing its edgy nook around the corner from the ferry. You can now get your worldly caffeine hit poured at 199a Ocean View Road (adjacent to the Ettalong markets).
We were sad to see the tail end of fish dining at Point Frederick but the Central Coast Cooking School that has taken its place is still being run by the pair behind Bombini and anything with chef Cameron Cansdell and his wife Hayley at the helm gets our tick of approval.
The fabulous couple behind the Lucky Bee have found a new hive at Hardys Bay – due to open in March. If it’s anything like their sizzling Asian offering at Frankie’s, it’s sure to bring some culinary buzz to the bay.
The Link and Pin opposite Woy Woy’s busy train station has started the new year as a late night venue with cocktails, share plates and live music from Thursday to Sunday. Thankfully they are still serving up their trademark toasties and coffee during the week.
Pizza lovers rejoice – there is a new place to get proper pizza on the Coast. Remy & Co Pasta Bar, located in the laneway off Erina’s Fountain Plaza, has added pizza to their authentic Italian line up this year.