Monday, January 11, 2010

Sealevel (Sydney)

2 The Kingsway, Cronulla
Sydney, Australia 2230
ph: +61 2 9523 8888

Oh the perils of being late. “Let’s go for breakfast by the beach,” my friend had said. “We’ll pick you up at 10.30am.”

Being a Sunday, naturally they didn’t meet that deadline, and consequently we missed breakfast by about five minutes. That five minutes turned out to be not just the difference between muesli and scallops, but about $50 per head.

We opted to remain at the beachside suburb’s most expensive restaurant for lunch anyway - it was a good spot, scenic and a bit protected from the wind - and hang the cost. 

Sealevel is in Cronulla, Sydney’s Deep South. Nevertheless, it’s a lovely spot geographically, the ocean on one side and a bay on the other, and people who live there rarely move away. In fact, many who live there love it so much they get the postcode tattooed on their limbs, right next to the tattoo of the Southern Cross. 

Sealevel has an outdoor and an indoor section and we opted to sit outdoors, albeit next to a heater and buffeted from the ocean winds by plastic sheeting.

Entrees are, as one might expect, heavily skewed towards seafood, while mains include two lobster options. I chose the soup of the day (corn and capsicum) followed by scallops, an entree but to be served as a main. Others chose oysters, salt and pepper squid, and fish and chips. If the choices sound a bit run of the mill, they are - however I think this is one of those places that like to think they elevate old favourites to new highs and charge accordingly.

Having said that my soup ($13) was sweet and creamy and delicious, and I was thoroughly pleased with the unusual option. I’m so sick of soup of the day being either pumpkin or minestrone - yawn.

My scallops, just four of them (the waiter told me there’d be five), were even better. Served in their shell on a bed of saffron flavoured leeks cooked in butter with a herb and almond remoulade, they had a hint of seawatery brine, a nice firm but not chewy texture and plenty of accompanying flavour.

My friends described the squid as “nice”. More specifically, “nicely cooked, nicely seasoned, and nicely served.” They are journalists too, might I add.

The oysters however, were described as just “okay, a bit bland”. I don’t eat oysters - yeuch, snot - so I have nothing to add here. 

Dessert was a serve of profiteroles, three big ones, filled with custard, doused in chocolate sauce and served with a big scoop of cream. I ignored the cream and tried to taste the choux, which was fresh, not frozen, but I don’t think it had been made that day. The custard, and I love a good custard, was sheer cardiac arrest bliss.

Service was great, with the waiter regularly coming over to check on us without hovering, switching the heater on when he saw us shivering, and dutifully rolling up, then back down, the plastic sheeting, in line with our whims.

Sealevel is, without doubt, a great addition to the charming coastal enclave and definitely worth a visit if you find yourself down there. Just, you know, watch your back.


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