Unexpected spot to find best Aussie pie

Welcome to Don’t Delay Your Stay, news.com.au’s campaign to support communities hard hit by this summer’s devastating bushfires. Many of these regions rely on tourism so one of the best ways to help is to visit and spend time in some of the most beautiful parts of our great country.

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The NSW South Coast beats a little slower and steadier than its northern equivalent. While there’s fast food to be found, it’s best avoided. Instead take your time in relaxed cafes, intimate restaurants and mouth-watering bakeries. Simple delights like eating fish and chips on a secluded beach while kangaroos bound into view are the meals you remember.

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BEST PIE

Very contentious. There are a lot of sleep-starved south coast bakers who have a lot of pride in their pies. Wild Rye’s at Pambula craft a gorgeous chamber of golden pastry and slow-cooked innards that closes in on perfection. Braidwood and Bemboka are both renowned pie-purveyors – some say you don’t even need to sauce their pies.

If you want a delicious gourmet pie you can’t beat Hayden’s Pies at Ulladulla. Popular with salty surfers, the location, on the highway just outside of town, isn’t pretty but the pies will make you reconsider religion – simply divine.

WORLD FAMOUS OYSTERS

The Eurobodalla coast grow the best oysters in the world, according to experts like John Susman, chief oyster judge at the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. The flavour advantage is to do with the pristine estuaries, bountiful national parks and clean rivers which give the region its nickname, the Sapphire Coast. Luckily, oysters are a hardy creature and it appears they have survived the bushfire pollution unaffected.

There is plenty of great spots to enjoy fresh oysters all along the south coast and a dedicated Oyster Coast Trail for serious fans. The Quarterdeck at Narooma and Merimbula’s Aquarium and Wharf Restaurant both offer great views for oyster slurping.

FANCY FOOD

Twenty years ago, you would have struggled to find many fine dining options among the little towns that make up the south coast. Today though there is much to entice the gourmand. English celebrity chef, Rick Stein, chose the sleepy, oceanside village of Mollymook to open his Australian restaurant, Bannisters, which specialises in local seafood served simply. The River is another great high-end option. Located in Moruya, The River features modern Australian fine-dining reimagined by talented Melbourne chef, Peter Compton. For beautiful food and scenery Drystone Restaurant at Mimosa Wines offers a stunning combination of both.

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WHOLESOME VEGO CAFE

Pilgrims Café has been serving up delicious vegetarian fare from a gorgeous old building on the main street of Milton since 1980. It’s often busy but there are newspapers and surfing magazines generously distributed about the tables and the food is always worth the wait. Breakfasts utilise local greens, homemade sauces, fresh organic eggs and lots of joyfully smashed avocadoes. There are plenty of vegan options and the lunch menu is all about the huge and delicious vego burgers. Pilgrims have a sister, equally enticing cafe in Jervis Bay.

FISH AND CHIPS

Unwrapping a warm sleeve of fish and chips in a green park overlooking a sapphire sea is a treasured south coast tradition. A sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lemon and you’re away. No cutlery, no plates, no fuss. Who does it best? The Pelican Rocks Café in Greenwell Point (near Nowra) recently took out People’s Choice Award for best fish and chips in the state. Other fantastic options include: Innes Boatshed at Bateman’s Bay, Kiah Seafood at Moruya (try the pan-fried blue grenadier), Bluewave Seafood at Bermagui and Eden Fish and Chips. Berny’s at Batehaven is famous for its handmade, thickly-sliced chips as well as delicious homemade prawn cutlets.

BEST COFFEE

A good beach holiday marches to the beat of freshly ground coffee beans. It would be rare to find a south coast hamlet that doesn’t have at least one aproned barrister smashing out the lattes and flat-whites with artisan care. That said some bean merchants that are worth seeking out. Hyper Hyper in Nowra feed home-roasted beans through dazzling espresso machines that look like jukeboxes for a futuristic experience. Bound To Earth do great coffee and chai in Narooma, while Alfresco Coffee in Moruya brews an award-winning house blend called the Black Cyclist. Further south in Merimbula there’s already a big buzz around Market Street Coffee which will open its doors in February.

GREAT BARS

Cool but not pretentious is the vibe most modern south coast drinking dens exude. The Quarters at Huskisson is a fine example: set in a 100-year-old cottage near scenic Jervis Bay, it is a magnificent venue to enjoy a chilled wine or cocktail (try the gin with ginger beer, chilli flakes and lime). For a hit of quirk, there’s the Dog and Monocle in Nowra, a steampunk supper bar with retro 1950s decor and old school cocktails. Beer lovers will froth out at Dangerous Ales, an onsite brewery at The Milton Hotel. Further south, at Merimbula, Dulcie’s Cottage, is a beautiful old beach house converted into a watering hole and eatery, perfect for happy gatherings. Dog-friendly too.

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