Ah, the Boathouse. I love the Boathouse. They had me at my first hello when they first opened in Palm Beach in time for summer 2008/2009. The space at Palm Beach was the marriage between an interior designer and her landscape husband who loved food. Oh my, oh my it is amazing.
They opened with numerous concept and each year you see changes that they make to adjust either the ambiance or the number of seats or even the service. These two are brilliant business owners that have not lost site of what they set out to achieve growth and success. They have created eating spaces which allow you to feel like you are in an enchanted garden. They have 4 locations on Sydney’s northern beaches and each one is a little different from the next.
They do not take bookings and as such you have to wait for a table. At Palm Beach, people will sit almost on you to get your table. At Balmoral, it’s even more cutthroat. Shelley Beach has always been too packed for me to wait until today. The fact people are happy to wait for a table, shared or otherwise is proof of the success. I would have to say Shelly Beach copes better with cold or wet weather than the other two. The fireplace inside immediately creates coziness and warmth to a wet day. Balmoral is nicer on a wet day because it means some of the crowd has stayed away. You will notice people ordering without a table.
TIP – split up and one person order whilst the other gets a table.
What can you eat? Green eggs and ham is a favourite of mine but if you are a eggs and bacon roll kinda person – they have a great one. Add chili jam for the full experience.
The coffee – always great. Does it have to be for people to line up for 20-30 minutes right? They have employed a great barista who has made sure the coffees are of a high standard always. You will understand why people set off from Manly and walk around, collect a coffee before wandering back. They have passed about 20 coffee shops on the way, yet waited until they were here to purchase.
For kids? Yeah. I admit, it’s a bit light on and I would have to say it’s not their market of choice. They do however have great small banana loaves and vegemite sourdough toast which will help at breakfast. My children do not have sophisticated palettes so I am perhaps not the best judge. Bacon, eggs are also on the menu. Chocolate milkshakes are served in the sweetest bear jars and if you’re happy to treat them, they will love these. They do sell large freckles and gingerbread cookies.
So many times I hear people say that they spent time with their kids and the kids had fun but the parents wanted to poke their eyes out. The opposite is the kids are bored and the adults enjoy themselves. The Boathouse aesthetic allows for a beautiful space and enough stimulation to provide entertainment for both kids and parents. As a lot of their spaces are outdoor and at the beach so you can even let the kids outside to run around while you finish a glass of wine. However, this will not suit with small kids as there is water about.
Shelly Beach is packed during summer. It is a north facing the beach and is protected from the wind. The waves are always gentle, and the water crystal clear. Shelley Beach sits within Cabbage Tree Bay, an aquatic reserve with an amazing array of fish. If you do pick up a snorkel, you may see turtles. You will see loads of fish and perhaps a grober.
NOTE – be prepared for people to stand over you as you are eating your meal. Tables are hard to come by and it’s amazing how people turn into seagulls. On a previous Mother’s Day I have legitimately had someone sitting on the corner of our table as it was prime real estate. Breathe, don’t let it ruin your time.
Regardless, kids not being their main target market, I suggest you go early before the crowds. Head to the beach afterward and enjoy the rest of your day having started in an amazing way. I deadset want to package up the garden each and everytime I am there and take it home. The whole interior design is beyond words. I just imagine having a good fortune and the creative ability to one day create this in my own space. They are constantly adding new ideas and improvements. Each and every time you visit its a little bit better than before.
NOTE – planning a wedding?? Don’t look past it. Any of their locations are amazing and you will absolutely be creating an event to remember.