There is no denying the urge for delicious, fresh, juicy seafood when you’re sitting metres from the blue waters of the Noosa River.
Especially when your seat is at the newly renovated Sunset Bar at Noosa Boathouse, and it comes complete with a cocktail in hand and uninterrupted views across Noosaville.
Considering Noosa Boathouse is classified as a floating vessel, you can imagine it naturally has a very nautical feel. And according to its owner, Sarah Bradford, it has also earned itself quite the loyal following in Noosa.
“It certainly has become an iconic waterfront dining hub in Noosa,” Sarah says. “We have three levels and I guess you’d call it five dining spots in one, so there is absolutely something to suit everyone.”
She isn’t wrong.
As someone who hadn’t been there for a while, I have to say my eyes lit up and my taste buds started tingling the second I stepped across the fairy light-lined boardwalk and heard a cheery hello from the barista behind the bar at spot number one, Little Boaty Coffee Bar.
To my right was the Fish & Chips Takeaway window, celebrated locally for some of the freshest fish and best cooked chips, and straight ahead through the main doors is where you find the waterfront Restaurant, perched literally on the water with open-air dining that looks out over the Noosa River.
We followed Sarah up the stairs to the middle level, which boasts a stunning wedding and events space, and then on to the top deck, which is where I found myself sitting, cocktail in hand, admiring the views and the cuisine at the newly renovated Sunset Bar.
“We did a complete renovation on the Sunset Bar, taking it back to an empty shell and building it back up to better suit the venue and the clientele,” Sarah says. “It was time to rethink the space and create a fresh new look. So my husband Phil and I redesigned the bar using the eight years’ experience we’ve had in the venue to add more space and create a really workable bar. The design renders were created by Brisbane company By Proxy Retail and the build was carried out by local builders Qld Built,” she says. “We reopened in June and we love it; it’s modern and clean with a chic coastal vibe.”
Each waterfront space dishes up a variety of local produce courtesy of the kitchen team led by chef Shane Bailey. And the new star of the show, the revamped Sunset Bar, will be all about fresh seafood.
“The menu up here is more casual share-plate style and we want to have a real focus on beautiful, fresh seafood,” Shane says.
Shane has been serving up delicious morsels of food to the Noosa Boathouse tables for more than eight years and has more than 20 years in the industry.
“It is an amazing spot here,” he says. “I love the day-to-day challenge the restaurant brings; every day is different and I like the way it always evolves, and how you evolve as a person, a chef and as a business. With the renovations done, I’m ready for that next evolution, and am really excited to be bringing out some new seafood dishes to the Sunset Bar.”
Shane says the idea was to design the menus so they have the best seafood upstairs and the best steak in the restaurant.
“I grew up in Victoria and I have ties with Beef Australia, and I have also done a fair bit of travel around Queensland,” he says.
“I always found that when I was near the water all I wanted was seafood and when I was away from it, I wanted steak,” he laughs. “So I learnt how to perfect both. I reckon I have cooked a million pieces of both fish and steak.”
This might be why his favourite dish to cook now is gnocchi.
“I love it all, but gnocchi is a good old-fashioned pan work dish – throw in the oil, butter, gnocchi and you are cooking traditionally. When you have a few on the go, it’s a challenge which makes it fun.
“When it comes to eating, I love the fish panang curry. It’s a great sharing dish when the family comes in.”
But whatever dish you choose, you know it is all fresh, sourced locally and tastes delicious.
“We have about 40 local suppliers and we even have a lot that just provide one ingredient,” Shane says. “We have a local macadamia guy, a pecan guy, a tomato guy, lime guy, crab guy, strawberry guy. We get our beef direct from the producer, have six seafood suppliers, including one of our chefs who is a commercial fisherman so he brings back fresh fish and we cook it up.
“We love to support other local business.”
In case you needed a little help to choose what dish to try first, some of our new favourites, which are newcomers to the Sunset Bar menu, are the Fraser Island spanner crab with Asian slaw slider and the Mooloolaba prawn roll with pickled cucumber and cocktail sauce. Of course, you can never go past the good old-fashioned seafood staples too: the ever-popular salt and pepper calamari; Heads of Noosa beer-battered fresh dory, chips and Boaty tartare; freshly shucked oysters; and the crème de la crème, a fresh seafood platter with chilled Mooloolaba prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, oysters natural, Fraser Island spanner crab salad with chilli lime dressing, charred garlic ciabatta, condiments and fruit.