Despite our proximity to the beaches, the harbour and the beautiful lake, there actually aren’t that many eateries that take advantage of being right on the water. At the aptly named Crusoe’s on the Lake at Lake Macquarie Yacht Club, you can’t really can’t enjoy a meal any closer to the lapping shores of the lovely lake.
Every seat is either looking out the window to the water or on the deck listening to the sloshing of the water against the pier. There are boats, there are seagulls, there are reserved car spaces for the commodore of the club. This is a nautical wonderland.
The restaurant is situated to one side of the club, with the bulk of seating on the back covered deck and a smattering of tables out in the sunshine. The set-up is casual: order and pay at the counter and they’ll give you a number and bring your food out to you when you’re ready.
As expected, there’s a strong focus on seafood, but there’s also plenty of other options, including pub favourites, to keep turf-eaters happy. A plate of oysters is always a happy place to start, but when given the choice, I’ll always head for scallops. In this instance, they are five seared scallops served with a sweet pea and mint risotto and sauce beurre rouge (the sauce is reduced with red wine instead of white). The scallops have a lovely delicate flavour and are very tender with the barest of searing. Searing seafood comes down to the minute sometimes, but these could have done with a tiny bit more heat for about 30 seconds. The bed of risotto isn’t gluggy which is nice, and is speckled with slivers of sweet onion and a hearty sprinkling of dill. The beurre rouge adds colour
The pile of chilli salt and pepper squid with tartare is tried and tender. The crumbs are chunky, perhaps a little doughy in places, but it has pockets of heat from the generous seasoning of cracked pepper and chilli flakes. You can bump this up to a main serving if squid was your go-to dish and you’d be pretty happy.
For mains, there’s a classics section that features all the usual suspects: burgers, fish and chips, fishermans basket, and schnitzels – big, hot and crispy schnitzels with a parmigiana topper and plenty of chips and salad.
For something with a bit more finesse, try the crispy skin Atlantic salmon served with paris mash, wilted greens, grilled peaches and a maple seeded mustard glaze; or dig into a baked whole baby barramundi stuffed with orange, ginger, coriander and shallots served with chips and salad. There’s summer storm rolling in and the temperature is dropping a bit so I decide to comfort myself with rich bowl of bouillabaisse. Mussels, clams, prawns, fish pieces and a battered salmon rillette float in the thick stew. Peas, red onions and cherry tomatoes are hidden in the depths below. It’s packed with so much I pretty much eat it with a fork, and then use a couple of pieces of toasted sourdough to mop the rest up.
The big draw card, and definitely one worth trying in a group or with a large appetite, is the house specialty: Crusoe’s seafood platter. For $100 you can feast on blue swimmer crab, king prawns, oysters three ways, tomato and chilli blacklip mussels, battered fish pieces, panko-crumbed prawns, chilli salt and pepper squid and fresh fruit. With a glass of cold white wine on a balmy summer’s evening, I can’t imagine a much lovelier eating experience.
Crusoe’s is an easy-going venue; there aren’t any airs and graces here. It’s popular this time of year (any time probably) for parties, family gatherings and locals.
It’s a top spot to sit and watch the action on the water, or at sunset with the colours changing over the lake.
- What: Crusoe’s on the Lake at Lake Macquarie Yacht Club, Belmont
- Bookings: 4945 5522
- Hours: Lunch and dinner, 7 days
- Chef: Cole Kenning
- Accessibility: Yes
- Take note: No BYO; $15 weekday lunches
- Bottom line: Entrees $16-18; mains $18-100
- Must try: The seafood platter