Review Brianna Clarke
My late Saturday lunch plans were slightly perturbed when Sydney's summer sun turned sour and headed toward grey skies and drizzle. Outfits were changed but we kept our outdoor reservations... we were determined to enjoy an afternoon on Ripple's stylish water-view deck at Chowder Bay.
If you're lunching at Ripples Chowder Bay on the weekend be prepared for big groups. Views, set menus and a certain 'reasonably priced yet sophisticated' image tends to attract special birthdays, engagements and get togethers of the sort. I knew this when we planned to go to Ripples - my sister had actually celebrated a birthday here with a party of 25. Unfortunately, the 'party group' present during our lunch was seemingly unaware of the restaurant's other tenants and proceeded to stand over the top of us, guzzling champagne and gawking at gifts. So don't come here expecting a quiet lunch with intimate water views, you'll inevitably be sharing this sacred spot with someone else's grandma and cousin. Don't stress, there's plenty of view to go around and the waiters do a great job at ensuring everyone is taken care of.
Once we were settled, we opened our pages to an excellent menu. Cocktails ($16.90) dominated by citrus, herbs, vodka and gin graced the first page - nothing too overwhelming or heavy, all perfect options for a pre-lunch drink. The price points for the wine list ($12-$25) weren't extravagant... But nor were the actual wines. A mediocre-at-a-stretch Riesling was $13.
The starters ($18-$22) were the highlight of the menu. If I had my time over, I would have ordered two entrees: Swordfish Carpaccio with Grapefruit, Capers, Chili Oil and Citrus Vinaigrette; and, Seared Scallops with Pea Puree, Pancetta and Pickled Quail Egg. The mains ($26-$34) were fish-centric, which motivated both of our decisions to order fish - Blue Eye Trevalla with Cannellini Beans, Chorizo and Cloudy Bay Clams ($34) for myself and the Ripples Beer Battered Fish & Chips ($26) for my friend. I'll brush over the part where I was brought the wrong main and skip to the part where our fork and knives got some action.
Firstly, my fish was prepared to perfection. Easily broken, moist yet obviously cooked through, it was crispy on the outside and succulent throughout. Similarly, the clams were perfectly cooked - it was a melt in your mouth moment. I have to be honest, despite being cooked perfectly, I thought that the fish required some urgent seasoning. When tasting with the chorizo, however, the sausage's saltiness rounded the flavors magnificently. This was my first time trying trevalla with chorizo but it won't be my last! If it wasn't for this Spanish saving grace's presence the dish would have lacked overall panache.
If there was a let down of the dish it would have been the cannellini beans- the menu didn't state their method of prep, however, their dry appearance and taste led me to believe that they'd been fried off... And for a little too long at that. When eating the beans with the seafood elements the textures did compliment one another. This meant that when I finished I had a whole lot of Cannellini left over that were all dressed up with nowhere to go - they just weren't very nice on their own. Overall, when combining all the elements on the plate, my meal delivered a wonderful and well thought out story. As single entities they were crying out for one another.
My friend's fish and chips were good. But 'good' doesn't cut it when you're in such an environment. This is the cheapest item on the menu and my advice is to not get it. Any compliments my gracious friend gave we're inconsequential to the fact that her $26 delivered a $10 local ma and pa, fish and chip meal. And she didn't even get the bonus of yesterday's paper! The extra $5-$10 is definitely worth the upgrade that you'll receive with some of the more refined dishes.
This isn't the place to go to if food is your sole focus. It's the 'package', which renders this restaurant attractive. It's a classy establishment yet relaxed. Inviting yet you want to look nice. Complex dishes thrown in with some lacklusters. It sits in a strange price range and I just don't quite know how to classify it. In saying that, it makes for a nice day out so it's worth finding out for yourself.