Dining / David’s daring adventure at the bay

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Moonlight oyster with cuttlefish. Photo by Wendy Johnson

WHEN David Tinker was a young thing in year 9, he began working in the “pizza department” at Starfish Deli in Batemans Bay.

Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson.

He loved being in the kitchen but never dreamt he’d one day work for a 3 Michelin-star chef, Pierre Gagnaire, in central London. Or for French-Canadian celebrity chef Serge Dansereau at Bathers’ Pavilion in Sydney.

Now David has come full circle and is back at “The Bay” operating his own restaurant, Sandbar, which picked up an AGFG Hat in January 2018 for its phenomenal French-Japanese inspired cuisine.

On top of the renovated Quay Hotel (which has beautiful lawns adorned with pieces of art), Sandbar is a daring adventure. David and his Japanese wife, Tomoyo, who runs front of house, only offer a degustation for $115. Six courses are listed on the menu with a surprise seventh always thrown in at one point for good measure.

We enjoyed a pre-dinner drink in the lounge area overlooking the water before settling in for an amazing food experience. Quay Hotel is just across the road from the Marina.

Our first course was a Moonlight oyster, with cuttlefish, fennel and balls of honeydew sitting on refreshing cucumber sauce. It’s a true taste sensation and so artfully plated.

Next up was a delicate salmon confit with sea urchin from Montague Island. It came atop a crunchy brioche bottom and featured tangy finger lime and pink Australian “love apple”. It was covered in a parsnip foam, with pretty nasturtium delicately placed on top. Cutting through revealed a range of beautiful layers and textures.

Octopus with chilled kombu tea. Photo by Wendy Johnson

The octopus course featured daikon, ginger wine-fermented strawberry, fresh peas, spring asparagus and lemon thyme. A stock, made from Kombu tea, was poured over the dish from a Japanese-designed teapot at the table by Tomoyo. Could this dining experience get any better?

We all loved the barramundi with leek puree and adored the citrusy bright yellow Yuzu dotted around the plate.

The beef was wonderful and the blood-orange kosho, a Japanese condiment that will pretty much spice up anything, was intriguing.

Before dessert came a surprise parfait of tofu with rhubarb and crystallised black olive, featuring liquorice tones. What a wonderful combination of flavours.

The dessert looked so gorgeous on the plate, it was almost a crime to tamper with it. The white miso parfait with strawberry, Pernod, grains and yuzu confit a masterpiece.

The menu at Sandbar is designed around south-coast produce, with David using French techniques and Japanese inspiration.

Parfait of tofu with rhubarb and crystallised black olive. Photo by Wendy Johnson

The décor is contemporary and calm, with blond timber tables set with cloth napkins, beautiful glassware and stunning dinnerware.

We topped off the night with amazing sake (Sandbar has a great selection) and left dancing with delight.

Sandbar, 60 Beach Road, Batemans Bay. Open Wednesday to Saturday for dinner. 02 4472 6488. Fully licensed.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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