It took the best part of 2017 but Woy Woy Fishermen’s Wharf has reopened its over-the-water restaurant, returning a stunning seafood dining experience to the Central Coast.
The new finger wharf that juts out the back of the iconic seafood establishment on Woy Woy’s waterfront is fresh, stylish, and more modern than its predecessor while still retaining the charm of its fishmonger heritage.
The massive construction and design job is the handiwork of the family who have been at the helm of WWFW for the past 40 years – the Claytons.
With input from Sam Clayton, his mum Jenni and wife Xanthe Highfield, one half of local design studio Stewart + Highfield, it has been a truly family affair.
While there are still some lights cradled in crab pots as per the old fish’n’chic fit out, there are also snazzy new lighting features.
The wooden tables have been given a spruce up, comfortable and supportive handwoven wicker chairs have replaced the old school chairs and the polished wooden floorboards no longer offer a view through to the water below.
The main design feature that takes pride of place is a traditional four metre fish trap brought all the way from the community of Maningrida in East Arnhem Land to Woy Woy.
The spectacular creation is by indigenous weavers Bonny Burarn.garra and Freda Ali Wayartja and as Sam explains, it’s not just nice on the eye, it represents WWFW’s ethos in a number of ways.
“As we are committed to offering sustainable seafood we wanted something that represented that and we thought showcasing an ancient style of trap would be a terrific way to do this. These traps have been in use for millenia in Northern Australia and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to have a work of such community cooperation, love and craftsmanship hanging in the restaurant,” he says.
“We also wanted something that could represent the incredible pre and post European colonisation history of Woy Woy as a major fishing and aquaculture area.”
A couple of wings have also been added to the sides of the restaurant, creating al fresco bars right on the water.
With a few stools lined up along the edge, it’s a picturesque place to watch ducks or pelicans glide by with an Aussie ale or French rose in hand.
The wine list has been curated by another Clayton, Sam’s sister Michaela who, as a former SMH Good Living Sommelier of the Year, is quite the wine buff.
Sustainable and reasonably priced seafood is still on the menu. The classic fish’n’chips might be monkfish or gurnard, with flathead or snapper also available.
The clams are swimming in a spicy tomato broth that’s just the right amount of flavour and spice.
While succulent pieces of bug are served up with a colourful slaw and nam jim sauce, and the salt and pepper squid is tender and lightly battered.
The Central Coast icon has notched up more than 40 years in its picturesque location on Woy Woy’s waterfront and while we loved the former establishment, the new structure is a modern marvel.
As well as the restaurant, Woy Woy Fishermen’s Wharf is home to a seafood market, fish’n’chip shop and a pod of resident pelicans.