THE Spit doesn’t immediately sound like the perfect place to wine and dine but there are so many wonderful options you’ll be spitting mad if you don’t try them.
There’s no place like home, that is except for a lovely Moroccan themed restaurant just near the Spit Bridge, where once you pass through cobalt blue solid wood doors, you’re treated like family.
Afous’ owner Omar Majdi greets everyone by proclaiming, “welcome home”, smiling as he offers a firm handshake.
While Latin music plays overhead and the fragrance of exotic spices fills the air, Omar provides an almost poetic description of the signature dishes such as grilled scallops with corn salsa, chilli and prawn oil; or the marinated lamb back strap with cumin, paprika and garlic.
He explains how the name, Afous means “hand” — a Berber word from his parents’ tribe in Morocco — which with five fingers, is representative of the five senses, all of which have been experienced, except for the one you’ve been waiting for — taste.
So good, you’ll be glad you went home for dinner.
— Level 1, 81 Parriwi Rd
While conquering the commute from Sydney to the Northern Beaches, spare a thought for those pre-1958 travellers who had to either take a punt or brave a rickety bridge to cross Sydney Harbour.
Privy to all the action from 1901 onwards were the people at the adjacent Ferguson’s Marina.
Now, what was once the marina’s boatshed had been converted into a rustic nautical inspired cafe with a contemporary metropolitan menu.
Breakfast is a stand out on the weekends as guests (and their dogs) sit on the large deck while enjoying classics such as salmon, fetta and avocado on toast; pancakes with berry compote and the bacon-laden, Brekky stack.
It’s lunch and dinner though where the dishes get more inventive and truly embrace the essence of the sea with meals such as salt-baked salmon and the Fregola pasta with mussels, prawns, bugs, squid and clams in a Napolitana sauce.
Satiated by the lovely meal and stellar meals, now you can truly be grateful that the bridge was built
— Ferguson’s Boatshed Marina
MIDDLE HARBOUR YACHT CLUB
Be prepared to throw out the anchor as after you’ve spent some time admiring the harbour view and burying your toes in the soft sand, you’ll want to navigate your way to the bistro and settle in for something to eat and drink.
Practically all the food here is made in house, including the popular lasagne and multitude of pestos and sauces.
It’s the rolls though that have a cult following with nearby tradies and neighbours popping in almost daily for the freshly baked rolls generously filled with roast beef and crisp veggies.
As it is an enclosed beach, about the size of large suburban backyard, kids and dogs can run freely while members and guests sit around barefoot eating Margherita pizzas and enjoying bubbles and beer on Sydney’s only licensed beach.
Come weekends, you’ll likely be joined by canooers who paddle their way up to shore for a quick bite or walkers rewarding themselves with some sweets after completing the Manly to Spit Bridge 10km Coastal Track.
— Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Lower Parriwi Rd
The dark timber of the bar and panelling may speak to the Middle Harbour 16’ Skiff Club’s 115 year past but with an open deck, sun-filled bistro, adjacent wedding venue and impressive food and drink offerings, Skiffies is anything but dated.
There’s a regular rotation of specials such as chicken Florentine and grilled barramundi that coincide with the seasons, and appropriate to its harbour location, seafood features prominently on the menu with the decadent hot and cold platters taking centre stage.
If you’re after chips, consider getting a side as this order is big on substance and light on filler.
You won’t get the generic seasonings either as the squid is prepared with a zesty lemon pepper and the Moreton Bay bugs have bypassed the grill, instead taking on the flavours of the BBQ.
— Middle Harbour 16’ Skiff Club, 237 Spit Rd
Standing on the deck, looking out to the horizon as if surveying his land, Ormeggio’s Alessandro Pavoni mentioned to his wife Anna that he could envision the jetty below being transformed into an Italian seaside village kiosk, complete with umbrellas, bleached woods, a general blue and white Mediterranean palette with an abundance of seasonal seafood options.
It may have sounded like a romantic notion at first, but with Anna taking the reigns of the plan while Alessandro developed the concept and a more rustic Italian menu, Chiosco — Italian for “kiosk” came to life.
While it is part of a marina frequented by the nautical set, many of the patrons actually come from their homes across the water on the nearby shorelines to enjoy the popular grilled split king prawns with chilli and lemon or the housemade tagliatelle with prawn meat all prepared by Italian chefs that Alessandro brought on board to complete his vision of that Italian seaside kiosk
— The Jetty, d’Albora Marina, Spit Rd
Bring out your inner chef with the newly installed public BBQs at Spit West Reserve.
Grab something from home, or to truly show off your grilling skills pre-order a meat package from nearby Chiosco.
There’s steak, chicken and seafood options as well as sides and even sauces so you can attempt to replicate some menu favourites such as the half chicken with the smoked paprika spicy glaze.
Simply delicious and if you squint enough, you might just be able to pretend it’s plated to restaurant perfection.
— BBQ at Spit West Reserve, Meat packages from Chiosco
ORMEGGIO AT THE SPIT
With a passion for Italian cooking, a wealth of experience garnered from Michelin-starred restaurants and even stints on Master Chef, celebrated chef Alessandro Pavoni lures diners from around the world to his hatted-restaurant.
It has a contemporary take on Italian and Spanish flavours and an ever changing menu that often features dishes such as Sydney rock oysters with melon and dill or his take on the classic spaghetti.
— Ormeggio at The Spit, D’Albora Marinas the Spit, Spit Rd
BO AT CATERING
For the fortunate foodies of the nautical persuasion, every spot on the deck stands to have that coveted water view table. So when berthed at Ferguson’s Marina, forget leaving the best seat in the house and order some takeaway.
The marina’s cafe, Plonk!, has a boating menu that ranges from canapés of smoked salmon toasts and lamb skewers to buckets of prawns and Balmain bugs — ideal for lunch and dinner or a day at sea.
— Ferguson’s Marina, Plonk! Café, 83 Parriwi Rd
Getting held up at the bridge can be an annoyance.
Or it can be a great excuse to wait it out with a first-rate cup of coffee and a light breakfast or for lunch, a fresh smoothie and scrumptious fish burger.
— Jimmy’s on the Spit, 235 Spit Rd
Swapping the whirlwind pace of a successful gelato and sorbet shop for retirement seemed like a good idea at the time but for Brett Appel, the leisurely life just didn’t suit.
Hee’s back part-time making his signature flavours such as Champagne and Lemon & Thyme out of the Sandbar’s kitchen.