NileGuide Expert Says:
Relaxed but sophisticated atmosphere, modern menu in unsurpassed seaside location; if there's only two of you, wait until a small oval table becomes vacant (they all have prime position) and bask in what Sydney does best.
4 The Esplanade, Mosman NSW, Australia
(02) 9969 5050
At lunchtime, on a good weather day, sitting at a front table, perhaps sipping a glass of Pink Claw rose, after ordering fillets of school whiting and salt cod brandade, and the tangy sea breeze wafts off Middle Harbor through the full-length louver windows, you can see out across the sand, past families frolicking in the Balmoral shallows and through the frayed shark proof netting all the way to New Zealand. Well, almost.
The Bathers' Pavilion Cafe (not to be confused with it's more grown-up 'restaurant' sibling next door) inspires such wistful, relaxing, laid-back longing. Just rinse the salt water off at the outdoor showers, slip on your casual gear and sit right down; at a cute oval table, on a padded wooden bench, in a sumptuous leather booth, or in the Red Room (more later).
Service is brisk (but you really don't mind if it's not), the Mediterranean inspired food is fresh and changes regularly with the seasons, and it's open from 7am every day. It's especially kid-friendly too; there's even a children's rest room where everything is miniature (like stepping into a doll's house).
But for something different, find space in the Red Room at the far end of the cafe. A bench full of Kilm cushions, cane/leather furniture, little round pressed-metal tables, and bright rugs give the space a real Moroccan feel; perfect for afternoon coffee or after dinner desserts.
To be sure, with one of world's glorious harbors in the heart of your city, there are heaps of waterside eateries to choose from. But this is still one of the best.