Beachwood Cafe’s ten tables are scattered across the footpath just off the main street in Yamba, and could be called a hidden gem, except the cafe is well marked on the gourmet traveller’s map. Owner Sevtap Yuce worked for Bill Granger before opening her first Beachwood in Angourie in 1994. Now the author of two cookbooks on Turkish cooking, she opens the cafe for breakfast and lunch, writing up the day’s menu on a blackboard at the front. Sevtap’s focus is on using local and seasonal produce resulting in robust dishes bursting with vegetables and bright flavours.
Turkish food is perfect for casual dining and sharing. For lunch we shared the roast duck salad with pumpkin, beetroot and burghal; some dolmades with a surprising chilli kick and leek and potato fritters. By then we had started on an eating frenzy and ordered large from the freshly made cakes and desserts. A rhubarb and rosewater cake, a raspberry tart with fresh cream and a prune and almond cake plus a couple of flat whites later, we were done.
After such delicious food, I, of course, bought the book and have been cooking from it ever since. You need to stock up on pomegranate molasses and dukkah, but otherwise the ingredients are accessible. First up was the warm lentil salad with chunks of beetroot and pumpkin. Easily put together and lifted with the pomegranate molasses and dukkah. I then tried the roast duck salad, but cheated by cooking a duck breast rather than roasting a whole duck. The salad is bulked out by burghul, beetroot and pumpkin and tossed with chilli, mint and coriander (as well as some of the ubiquitous pomegranate molasses).
I am on such a roll, I already have lamb chops marinating in oregano and olive oil in the fridge for dinner. So for my long suffering friends, prepare for a summer of Turkish meze.
Without local knowledge, you would probably head down to Wato’s Fish and Burger Bar in Yamba for fish and chips. But with local knowledge , between Tuesday and Saturday night, you can walk into Wato’s and say the magic words ‘the chef’s special, please’ and a whole different world opens up for you.
Chef Tony Young offers three courses for $35 and what is on offer remains a deep mystery until the courses come out. He does check for food allergies and beyond that you are in his hands. The food is based around locally caught fish, cleanly prepared with French techniques. So what was on offer on a quiet Tuesday night?
The first dish was a big pan of prawns cooked in a burnt butter sauce to be shared with the table. The sauce was bread dippingly good with subtle garlic and lemon flavours. While these delicacies are being brought to our table, the fish and chippery is firing away. Somehow the chef fills the takeaway orders while keeping an eye on the bistro diners.
The main course is Luderick, local black bream caught in the Clarence River. The fish is served on homemade pasta with a cream caper sauce. The Luderick fillets were quickly fried and moist and the sauce, though cream based, was light.
Lastly, dessert of fresh berries in a red wine sauce with creme anglaise and vanilla ice cream.
At Wato’s the service is friendly and swift and the staff are enthusiastic about their food and keen for you to enjoy what is on offer. In a way it is the perfect business model with the fish and chips keeping the cash flow going, while being able to make the most of the local seafood with the chef’s special bistro meals. The bottle shop is across the road and they don’t charge corkage. So next time you are in Yamba stop by to see what’s on at Wato’s
Wato's Fish and Burger Bar
Cnr Yamba and Coldstream Sts, Yamba
Open seven days, Bistro from Weds to Sat nights