Visiting Julie in Coffs Harbour was amongst the many highlights of my trip to Australia. I have now stayed in what’s known as the most liveable climate in the country. And that’s according to Wikipedia, which I was able to validate. Not only that – in those couple of days I had the opportunity to see some of the most gorgeous coastal views. I listened to the soothing sound of the beach from the luxury of my Novotel suite, and enjoyed a wonderful foodie moment at Charlie’s Restaurant Coffs Harbour.
Charlie’s Restaurant & Bar is Novotel Pacific Bay’s signature restaurant. Charlie’s is incredibly popular amongst visitors and locals alike, with its peaceful and elegant ambience. This is also where I got to speak with the Sous Chef who happily shared his Decadent Caramelised Pecan Ice Cream that we published in April.
We were looking forward to our dinner reservation and made our way from our room to the spacious lobby. I took a few moments to admire the local painter’s artwork hanging on the walls which lead downstairs to the restaurant.
A few steps and a quick turn to the right and we had arrived at Charlie’s Restaurant. Our host greeted us with a warm smile and we were shown to our table. Instantly we both relaxed, enjoying the tranquil, peaceful atmosphere whilst overlooking the water and golf course.
Soft background music resonated across the dining room, with both Bhing and I quietly humming to the sounds as we browsed the menu.
Our first entrée for the night was the Pork Belly and Baby Spinach Salad. Tender and lightly crumbed, the pork was smothered with sweet and sour tomato-based sauce. The components combined so well with each other, and we both absolutely loved the pork! The entree reminded us of a similar Filipino dish, whereas the Chef used a delicious buttered tri-coloured quinoa instead of rice with the vegetables. The restaurant’s black currant dressing heightened the overall taste of the dish. Tart-sweet, crisp and fresh – this was one healthy, tasty entrée.
Regular readers would know that Pork Belly and Calamari are some of our favourite menu items and pretty hard for us to go past; however Charlie’s calamari was an absolute revelation! The chef had accentuated the already popular calamari by infusing the batter with lemon-lime salt and pepper. The balance was supplied by sliced plump cherry tomatoes with balsamic glaze. What was unique was the dipping sauce of chilli peach purée. I never imagined peach could be used this way and I loved it.
“You should really try our lamb and a glass of Shiraz!” the waitress exclaimed as she eagerly checked if we were enjoying the food. Hearing that, I threw a quick pleasant glance at Bhing who was also smiling. We both wished Brett and Julie were with us as the servings at Charlie’s were huge enough to feed two per dish. With the recommendation in mind, we ordered the Rack of Milly Hill lamb.
A few minutes later, with a glass of the Bancroft Bridge Shiraz already in hand, the frenched rack of lamb appeared on our table. It looked spectacular! The lamb was served on a bed of mashed sweet pumpkin with steamed green beans. The rich rosemary jus was delicious with the crispy strips of the rosti toppings. This dish was without doubt a looker and a palate pleaser.
The mains came with a side of steamed greens, which were perfectly steamed with a light drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. The lamb was lovely and it was great to have the vegetables as a side.
Our second main for the evening was the Moroccan Spiced Chicken Breast. The lightly browned chicken breast was presented on a festive vegetable couscous in spicy tagine sauce. We squeezed the caramelised lemon into the chicken and vegetables. This dish was a distinct North African/Moroccan combo bursting with flavour – spicy, lemony, sweet and earthy.
It was a fare of unique, deep flavours in every dish and we both commented that Charlie’s Restaurant must have some very creative chefs!
After thoroughly enjoying our first 2 courses, we were both full of anticipation of what desserts the Chef’s could create. After a short deliberation, we decided on “The Bombe” and Tuile basket.
A gleaming red raspberry dome came out from the kitchen. Our waitress informed us that the Chefs called it “The Bombe” because it was Charlie’s ultimate dessert! The colours and the raspberry toppings looked vibrant, fresh and just so pretty. “The Bombe” tasted every bit as good as it looked, with its fresh fruit and creamy anglaise.
The Tuile Basket was served with a fruit sorbet, slices of fresh fruit, and THE Caramelised Pecan Ice Cream that I had raved about at the beginning of this review. As we had come to expect from Charlie’s, the Tuile Basket was delicious, but it was the caramelised pecan ice cream that clung to my dreams as we made our way back to our cosy Lagoon View suite. This ice cream completed an amazing meal at Charlie’s Restaurant & Bar at Novotel Pacific Bay Resort, Coffs Harbour.
So, dear readers, have you visited Coffs Harbour, the Town with the Most Liveable Climate recently? 😉