A cracking brekkie roll, a pizza that could be straight from Sicily and a picnic among the vines – restaurant owner Lou Perri reveals the best places to eat and drink in Port Macquarie.
Located almost halfway between Sydney and Brisbane on NSW’s Mid North Coast, Port Macquarie has long been a popular holiday spot for families – all nature reserves, national parks and beaches. “The topography and landscape are amazing. Life is just really good here,” says Lou Perri, who, as the owner of lauded restaurant The Stunned Mullet, brought one thing to the region that nature couldn’t conjure: a chef’s hat. “We’re a beachside venue that executes at the highest level in a very casual manner,” says Perri. “We give people a great experience without pretence.” Which could easily be the tagline for the region itself. Here are Perri’s picks on where to eat and drink around town.
Meg & Me for the coffee
“Meg & Me is run by Ant and he’s been committed to coffee in the community for many years now. You might get a protein ball or a fresh pastry but they don’t really do any food – it’s strictly coffee. The Holy Goat coffee beans are tailor-made and roasted exclusively for the espresso bar.”
Coast Lighthouse Beach for the breakfast menu
“It’s right on the beach (40 Matthew Flinders Drive, Port Macquarie; 0432 588 838), your toes are literally on the sand and you’re looking at the waves as they curl in. I like the brekkie roll – bacon and egg with barbecue chutney – or the veggie breakfast, which has a beetroot hummus on it that is amazing.”
Enzo Woodfired for the pizza
“Where I eat is driven by the two people who are in charge of our household – my daughter, Emilia, and son Luca. Enzo Woodfired is like walking into a pizzeria somewhere in Southern Italy. The fire is going in the background, the chefs are rolling and stretching their dough, the pizza bases are fantastic and the toppings are authentic Italian from the tomatoes to the cheese. I love the Mt Etna pizza (with fior di latte, hot salami, olives and chilli) and it’s always an argument over whether one margherita will do for the kids or if they need two.”
Urban Grain Bakery for the sourdough
“If you want artisan sourdough, this is the place to go. They also do good croissants and baguettes. And I’m a big fan of the milk buns, which I use for a burger or bacon and egg roll – they work really well. We actually use a lot of the sourdough at The Stunned Mullet.”
Cassegrain Winery for the 2018 Fromenteau Chardonnay
“Going to this winery, about 15 minutes from town, is a full experience. There’s a cellar door for tastings then for brunch or lunch there’s Twotriplefour restaurant – the sister eatery of Bill’s Fishhouse in the CBD – which offers a really good paddock-toplate proposition. They also do picnic hampers so you can sit on the grass and eat. Cassegrain’s 2018 Fromenteau Chardonnay is a standout; the fruit is sourced from the Tumbarumba area, which is fantastic.”
Wicked Elf for the IPA
“Wicked Elf brewery has been renovated recently and it’s certainly worth checking out. It’s the longest standing brewery in the area and has been going since 2008. Its IPA, Fastidious Bastard, is great. I’m not a big beer drinker so if I am going to drink it, I like an intensity of flavour, hoppiness and aroma. Aroma is a big part of everything that I like to eat and drink. Just around the corner from Wicked Elf is Moorebeer Brewing Co., which I like for its Gold Digger XPA. Friday and Saturday sessions at both these places are the best.”