While we’re out of town

February 2009

The annual Newton pilgrimage south to a beach without restaurants (one of its main attractions) was interrupted when we were ordered to take teenage daughter and friend to Batemans Bay so they could spend the evening at the annual carnival (run by Bells Amusements, great fun). Without much enthusiasm (we’d tried this before), we tramped around looking for somewhere decent to eat. Just as we’d decided to suffer one of the local Chinese — usual best bet in restaurant wilderness — the unmistakeable aroma of fried garlic led us by the nose to a smart little joint called Barkala Kitchen & Bar (Shop 3/4 St George Arcade, Orient St, Ph 4472 1888 www.barkala.com.au), a fair-dinkum tapas bar complete with Almodóvaresque 60s retro lamps and wallpaper and great views out across the bay. With trepidation we waited for the food — would it match the room? — and were delighted by both it and the charming way it was served. Barkala bacala, pimientos stuffed with bacalao, chickpea-battered fennel, cumin calamari and naked Clyde River oysters were some of the delights on offer, supported by a very good wine-by-the-glass list (Lustau manzanilla at $6 a glass!). We discovered that Barkala is the second outing for the owners of the very popular Starfish Deli further along Orient Road and was the result of much research in Sydney and Melbourne. It’s one thing to do the research, another to get it so right. It’s worth breaking a no-restaurants pledge for.

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