Easter monday. A rare and precious public holiday. Beautiful weather. Our first proper date-day in what felt like months. The plan was to drive up to Palm Beach, have lunch at The Boathouse and then take in the views at West Head. This plan had been in my mind for a long time – but was always thwarted by rain or other distractions.
We found a lucky parking spot right outside The Boathouse and I had a good feeling that this was going to be a perfect day. We walked into the pretty outdoor eating area in the front, and I was about to take out the DSLR when we saw it: a massive line and a chalkboard sign that said “Wait time from being seated…. 60 MINUTES”
oh HAAAILLLL NO.
We were already hungry. As much as my heart was set on eating there, there was no way we were going to make it through the line and the full 1 hour wait alive. So we just left, and my great plan was trashed.
I did learn a valuable lesson though. Do not use public holidays as an opportunity to visit that much talked about restaurant you’ve been meaning to try for ages – because 200 other people are thinking the same thing and you will only find long waits, bad service and ugly surcharges. Next time, I’m packing a picnic.
So after frantically Urbanspoon-ing and driving around in a few circles, we ended up at Rivage, a French bistro next to the Palm Beach Golf Club.
Despite the lovely live jazz, at this moment, I was a serious hanger risk. Hungrier by the minute, grumpy and disappointed about missing out on The Boathouse, ending up somewhere that looked expensive and that I’d never even heard of. Matt and I both knew that the smallest mishap could end in tears.
Coffee will help. Pretty sure I gave a badly hidden eyeroll to the waiter when he apologised for the slight spillage on the saucer – but the coffee was surprisingly good and I felt better.
I was very careful with my order – I needed something low-risk and high-satisfcation. I ended up with this crunchy lady:
Croque Madame: Grilled ham and emmental sandwich with fried egg and mornay sauce ($16)
I don’t think Croque Madame could ever be a bad choice. Trust the French to come up with such a guilty but perfect brunch. And the salad totally cancels it out right?
Well whatever good the salad did was steamrolled by my side order of Potatoes………..
……….Roasted in Duck Fat ($9)
Matt ordered the set lunch ($29.50) starting with a pork and veal burger with mustard sauce and pommes frites
Sadly we didn’t realise a French-style “burger” wouldn’t come with buns, vegetables or condiments. That’s just a big meat pattie hiding under the french fries. I thought it was quite delicious but poor Matt was so jealous of my Madame.
We finished with a dessert of lime tart with lime sorbet. Super sour just the way I like it. Matt’s face scrunched up into a tight ball.
Hanger crisis averted.
Rivage’s interior is a strange mish mash of French bistro chic and Summer Bay Surf Club – the bar is made from a giant canoe. It made no sense but I liked it.
Old cookbooks by the window.
I was very pleasantly surprised with Rivage – beachside restaurants are usually overpriced tourist traps, not charming bistros serving up authentic French food and friendly service. We did get slapped with a hefty $5 per person holiday surcharge but with a belly full of cheese and duck fat, I was feeling quite forgiving and spared the staff from my usual “There is NO WAY I’m paying this” rage.