Barrenjoey House, Palm Beach

A very close friend of mine had one of those birthdays.  One of those birthdays that you can see looming and you’re filled with dread and they don’t start with an ‘F’ (which is bad enough), because now you’ve progressed from ‘F’ to ‘S’.

Sydney's Palm Beach - also known as the playground for the rich and famous

Sydney’s Palm Beach – also known as the playground for the rich and famous

But every birthday is worthy of a celebration (even if ‘S’ depresses you), so I drove along Sydney’s Northern Beaches, picked up my friend, Lou and headed for Palm Beach. was a magnificent day with the bluest of blue skies and plenty of warm sunshine.  We parked across the road from Barrenjoey House then headed for the restaurant.  It’s a long while since I’ve been to Barrenjoey House and it’s always thrilling to be back in this gorgeous setting which feels as comfortable as walking into someone’s beachside home.

The entrance to Barrenjoey House

The entrance to Barrenjoey House

The staff are full of smiles and greet you almost as if you’re a long-lost friend.  We were shown to a table that overlooked one of Sydney’s best (and most expensive) views.

Barrenjoey House - it's at 1108 Barrenjoey Road!

Barrenjoey House – it’s at 1108 Barrenjoey Road!

We were offered flat, sparkling or tap water and ordered a large bottle of sparkling mineral water however as the occasion was a celebration I also ordered two glasses of Prosecco.  These arrived promptly and I loved how the champagne glasses had also been chilled.

Prosecco $10.00/glass

Prosecco $10.00/glass

There was the usual menu then there was also a lovely Spring menu.  I ordered my entree from the Spring menu and had the lightly battered zucchini flowers stuffed with goat’s cheese and pine nuts with a saffron aioli and green herb sauce.  The batter was crispy and the zucchini crunchy and the goat’s cheese stuffing gave a lovely kick to the subtle zucchini flavours.  There was a wonderful amount of aioli and herb sauce and I loved this very generous dish.  However, I am used to zucchini flowers being served in a much lighter batter and felt the batter presented made them look rather heavy.

Lightly battered zucchini flowers with goat's cheese and pine nut stuffing with saffron aioli and green herb sauce $22.00

Lightly battered zucchini flowers with goat’s cheese and pine nut stuffing with saffron aioli and green herb sauce $22.00

Lou had the salt and pepper calamari and zucchini with roast pepper and saffron aioli.  Again, it was a very generous serve and she thought the zucchini complimented the calamari beautifully.  The calamari was wonderfully light and tender.

Salt and pepper calamari and zucchini with roast pepper and saffron aioli $19.00

Salt and pepper calamari and zucchini with roast pepper and saffron aioli $19.00

For the main course I chose from the standard menu and ordered the sirloin steak sandwich with beetroot relish, rocket, horseradish and chips.  And here’s the problem.  If you’re going to charge $25.00 for a steak sandwich it had better be the best steak sandwich on record.

Sirloin steak sandwich with beetroot relish, rocket, horseradish and chips $25.00

Sirloin steak sandwich with beetroot relish, rocket, horseradish and chips $25.00

Unfortunately this steak sandwich was beyond disappointing.  As it was presented to me I took one look and my heart just sank.  I hoped it would taste better than it looked but alas – this dish had not one redeeming feature.  The ‘sirloin steak’ was more ‘minute steak’ – so thin it resembled a sheet of paper.  It was terribly over-cooked with that dreaded grey colour to it.  The bread was a mystery.  It was soft and coloured like brioche yet the underside had a look of Turkish bread to it.  One side of the bread had been toasted to the point of being burnt.  The beetroot relish had been thinly spread on one side and being such a meagre scraping I could barely taste it.  There wasn’t enough horseradish to battle the dryness of the steak.  There was no rocket but there was some watercress that I had seen being used to garnish a number of dishes.  The chips were dry and under seasoned and I had to ask for a dish of sauce to help wash them down.  I really don’t know what I got for $25.00.

A cosy lounge area near the bar

A cosy lounge area near the bar

Lou ordered from the Spring menu and had the pan fried red snapper fillet, roast baby fennel, steamed asparagus, zucchini flowers and sea salt roasted kipfler potatoes with a dill burre blanc.  By sharp contrast this was an outstanding dish.  The plate arrived on the table hot, there was a very generous serving of everything and plenty of burre blanc for both the potatoes and the fish.

Pan-fried red snapper, roast baby fennel, steamed asparagus, zucchini flowers, sea salt roasted kipfler potatoes and dill buerre blanc $29.00

Pan-fried red snapper, roast baby fennel, steamed asparagus, zucchini flowers, sea salt roasted kipfler potatoes and dill buerre blanc $29.00

We had a look at the dessert menu and I asked Lou if she would like to share a cheese platter but that main course had filled her to over-capacity.

A mirror above the fireplace that operates in the cooler months

A mirror above the fireplace that operates in the cooler months

I would have loved to have tried it.  Something to come back for, for sure.

The restaurant is often booked for functions including weddings

The restaurant is often booked for functions including weddings

An absolute must after a meal at Barrenjoey House is a walk on the beach and when taking this walk any horror memories of steak sandwiches are quickly erased.

Items on the shelves are all for sale

Items on the shelves are all for sale

The fact is, Barrenjoey House is in one of the world’s best locations and the setting and the staff make you want to be there.  However, while some of the food is superb, other dishes are highly questionable.

A wee man is at the entrance

A wee man is at the entrance

Verdict:  In this setting on a beautiful day, even ‘so so’ food can be forgiven.

Barrenjoey House:  1108 Barrenjoey Road (opposite Barrenjoey Wharf), Palm Beach Ph:  61 (2) 9974 4001

Palm Beach Wharf.  The ferry brings passengers from the Central Coast who often walk across the road to dine at Barrenjoey House

Palm Beach Wharf

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  1. Such a beautiful setting, shame about the ‘steak’ sandwich. Sounds like entrees and desserts are the go for next visit! Glad the birthday girl got lucky with her main at least.

  2. I recently entered the Fs and that came as quite a shock, I imagine the Ss are pretty scary, although if you are there to celebrate yours (like any other birthday before or after) you are one lucky person.

  3. A lack of consistency is one of the worst crimes a restaurant can commit imho. I love a good steak sandwich too, so feel your pain! The fish looks divine though 🙂

  4. Oh my … the Prosecco got me … but then come the zucchini flower …. and then I find out they’re stuff! More importantly, happy belated birthday to Lou! … By the way, is your ear itching?

  5. Sometimes the best way to put a positive spin on an “S” birthday is with good food! And at least your friend got a good meal!

  6. That steak sandwich was a dead set rip off!

  7. Twenty Five dollars for an unworthy steak sandwich gives me pause, but other dishes sounded great. I like the pairing of the zucchini flowers with the aioli and herbs sauce. Yum. I’ve got one of those “s” birthdays next week–I think I am over being stressed.

  8. Progressing from T to F is bad enough, F to S does sound like doomsday. But looking at my Mom, I take comfort, she is one happy person and beautiful to boot, lol! And what better way to celebrate other than be in one of the most beautiful place on earth. More than bad food, expensive bad food gives me heart burn. But it’s good that there were other menu items that made up for it.

  9. I’m looking forward to my first S birthday … only 3 yrs to go. 🙂

    As to the meals, if it was the day before pay day, I’d go for the calamari for taste and value and if it was the day AFTER pay day, the red snapper would tempt me. Definitely NO steak though. I don’t make french fries at home and if you can’t get a good plate of them (never mind the steak which is a disgrace) in a restaurant for that kind of money, I’d have a little chat with the wait person.

  10. What a shame Charlie! The fish looks absolutely stunning, but that steak looks terrible 🙁 I guess the only redeeming feature is that you’re the one who got stuck with the dud dishes, not the birthday girl xox

  11. You have so many lovely reasons to celebrate – and people to celebrate them with!

  12. What a great looking place!

  13. When I saw that last photo on Instagram I thought you’d jetted off on a tropical holiday. It looks like the view would almost make up for dodgy sandwiches.

  14. Birthdays that begin with an “S” are much to be desired. Think of the alternative! Anyway, sounds like a lovely time, although it’s a bummer your sandwich wasn’t at all good.

  15. This is why recommendations are so necessary – the spring menu sounds like the one to go for and certainly stay away from the steak sandwiches. The location…..well what can I say….just perfect.

  16. Come to Texas– we have great steak sandwiches!

  17. What a view! Just beautiful! Sorry lunch was a flop, but what a view!!! 😉

  18. Awww i think age is just a digit and it doesn’t matter if it’s F or S 🙂 and it looks like a great place to celebrate a birthday the calamari looks amazing, a shame about the steak sandwich though and you didnt get any desserts hehe 😛

  19. I’ll say that’s a stunning day for you two to be out for a lady’s lunch! I am shocked by that Steak Sandwich, it isn’t anything I’ve ever seen before, to be honest. Thankfully the rest of the meal must have made up for it. Yes.. those F and S birthdays are such a pain, but as they say having a birthday is better than the alternative;) xx

  20. I guess it’s the same wherever you call home. “Palm Beach” is synonymous for rich & famous. Your steak sandwich does sounds like a disappointment. I would have thought that, like so many other restaurants in beautiful settings, you’re paying for the view and the food is 2nd rate. That was until I saw your friend’s plate. Wow! That looks incredible. As one who will be facing a similar — if not the same — birthday in January, the last thing I’ll need is a bad meal. Warn the wait-staff. This birthday boy will not abide disappointment on his big day. 🙂

  21. Finally, somewhere I’ve been! When we had our boat on the Hawkesbury we would motor to Palm Beach and take the little tender to the beach and I loved it. It’s like everyone there is always on holidays – or they look like that.

    I remember that huge house on enormous pillars overlooking the water. I always wanted to peek inside that place.

    Your sandwich did look a bit sad compared to your friend’s meal. For $25 I would have sent it back. Peanut butter and jam would have been better than that.

    Next time you go out, let someone else choose your meal. 🙂

    • Maureen, I have been to that house and been inside it. It has the most incredible view and there’s a suspended swimming pool there too. The house has an unusual feel to it though and I wasn’t too sure about it. I felt a little trapped! You’re so high up and so isolated and you can’t just walk out your front door and head to the letter box or down the street. You do feel suspended way up high. If I lived there I think that would take a bit of getting used to. It’s certainly an architectural talking point, though!

  22. I love this place. I went there with a few girlfriends a few months ago and it was such a beautiful day. I want to go back there nooow…

  23. Beautiful beach; I was almost drooling over the zucchini flowers until I saw how heavily coated in batter they were.

  24. Those zuchinni flowers sounded amazing, but they did look quite heavy. On the other hand, that snapper looked like heaven! Perhaps the chef feels that making a steak sandwich is beneath him? No way, man! A good steak sando is the best!

  25. That’s such a beautiful area of the world! A shame about the food! I hope you like the food on Saturday night! :S

  26. count me in… thanks for sharing those wonderful photos.

  27. Oh no! $25 and it was horrible. How disappointing! I might have had the courage to send it back. We don’t often eat out so I would hate that. Those S birthdays should be banned – mine is coming soon.

  28. What a shame about your food – but I imagine it is hard to ruin that view, even if the meal isn’t what you’d hoped for.

  29. I recently had a roast beef and salad sandwich from a take away joint in Chatswood. It cost me $16 and I nearly had a heart attack when she mentioned the price. $25 is beyond pushing it, regardless of the view. What a shame so many waterfront restaurants assume the view will justify the crazy prices they charge…

  30. What a pity your mains were a disappointment Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  31. What a beautiful way to celebrate an “S” birthday!! all the dishes look so good…I was surprised too to hear yours did not taste well as my first thought was that I loved the thinness of the sandwich….sometimes looks are deceiving!! I’m a calamari fan, so I loved the description of it. All in all, it looked like a perfect day!!

  32. What a delightful way to celebrate your friends birthday.
    The place seems lovely and I think it’s always a good sign when not only the Prosecco is chilled, but the glasses as well.
    Oh, these small details that make all the difference:)
    The beach looks stunning!

  33. They were a bit uneven in their presentation, weren’t they. At least not everything was a loss. It’s true for me that often the location makes the difference. I’ve had less than stellar meals at restaurants with beautiful ocean views and found I didn’t care about the meal’s shortcomings. And other times, a wonderful meal in a noisy, uncomfortable setting turns me off. I hope your friend felt loved! What a nice birthday…those “S” birthdays are scary! I can attest to that! 🙂

  34. Could you send your steak sandwich back? Or it is not proper where you are? Glad the birthday girl had a delicious meal. So disappointing when the food is not consistent and at such price. The view is gorgeous.

  35. Wow! Look at those beautiful blue skies. If I sent you a photo of HK’s sky right now, it might make you cry. We are down wind from China and getting all that smog. I think the best way to start any celebration is with a little bubbly and it looks like a grand night. Happy Birthday to your friend. Take care, BAM

  36. I had such high expectations for you after the prosecco and zucchini flowers. What a shame – don’t you wonder sometimes how plates of food actually leave the kitchen?
    Glorious blue skies though and a stunning beach – perfect for a special friend and to celebrate a new decade.

  37. I guess the beautiful views will make you forget everything else. 🙂 Very gorgeous beach! I miss summer… 🙂

  38. I’m so glad your stroll on the beach erased “that dreaded grey” steak from your memories, at least in that moment. Your friend was sure to feel saluted and celebrated from the looks of their meal. The “s” birthday approaches here, too (in a few years) and I’ll be looking for a special spot to celebrate… Palm Beach sounds like a wonderful place (but I may have to settle for the shores of Lake Eufaula, lol!)

  39. I love it there and will take your tip of sticking to the seasonal menu, next time I am in. Perhaps the regular one needs a little overhaul.

    You are right about the location. Absolute paradise for sure.

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