Affogatos rock at the Swish Beach House

Beach House Barwon Heads
48 Hitchcock Avenue Barwon Heads

At first, I didn’t want to go into this restaurant. I was dressed up, perhaps a bit too much for the beach locals, and felt that I would stand up insurmountably against everyone else there. People looked casual sipping their drinks and watching people walk by at the front of the premises Parisian style, and I was actually, inwardly groaning as we walked up into the restaurant.

There was not much up our food-alley on offer on our second night there at Barwon Heads. We had parked ourselves once again along Hitchcock Avenue: we had already dined at Barwon Orange, and wanted to try something different; Annie’s was closed that night, and the one I had tried to book before discovering they weren’t open on Monday’s was Café Maritana. That we would discover the following night. At the Rocks had too many recent bad reviews on Urbanspoon for me to want to risk throwing our holiday dollars away there, and everything else in close proximity was either closed, or too cas. We weren’t going to have fish and chips. We wanted to sit in nice surroundings, and eat and relax for a couple of hours.

Hubbie convinced me in. I ignored the looks and walked behind him, trying to hide behind baby girl. I love dressing up, but I hate staring. I can’t stand it. So what if I’m dressed up? You don’t have to ogle.

I was immediately relieved and impressed when I saw the interior. This, was much fancier. In fact, by looking at the exterior, I never would have guessed the interior would have looked like this. The tables and chairs were a dressier version of the outside, with a large bar in the middle of the room and ample space to be seated. Even so, we were greeted by a serious lady who asked if we had booked. Was this a thing in Barwon Heads? As someone said on Urbanspoon, this isn’t Melbourne. This place certainly had the space to fit us, and nearby empty tables didn’t seem to have a reserved sign. In fact, as we had learned the previous night at Barwon Orange, even in that smaller space they had been able to sit us. Fortunately, she seated us, and so become one unexpectedly great night.

Inside it was swish, but the beachy vibe was still there with huge leaf-like fans across the ceiling. Even the people dining in there were more stylish, wanting to make a meal out of the night, as it were.

We ordered drinks and baby girl’s meal first, and I informed our lovely young waitress if they could bring out her meal ASAP – they didn’t have to deliver it with ours. It came surprisingly quick, right after our drinks came, and conveniently right on time as she was starting to fuss.

Mini steak, shoestring chips, garden salad with tomato sauce

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It was $12, so cheap yet so large! We fed her and kept her happy, using her leftovers as our entrée. Hubbie was pleasantly surprised with how succulent her steak was, and said “If our meals are anything like this…!”

I’d ordered an Almost Heaven cocktail, and the name pretty much summed it up for how the night was to become. It wasn’t overwhelmingly beautiful-looking, served just in a tall glass, but it was fresh and summery, and suited the night to a T.

Almost Heaven – Passionfruit infused vodka, Chambord, passionfruit Tiro

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We had ordered something different, different from our usual anyway. I usually go for a pasta, seafood or chicken dish, while Hubbie happily gets his steaks with veggies/chips/salad. Instead, I ordered the

Char grilled Eye fillet, with French fries and a garden salad

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While Hubbie ordered the Confit pork belly, with a rice noodle & crips vegetable salad in ‘Chowhouse’ chilli dressing

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The eye fillet was a very big and thick piece, and for my request of medium-to-well cooked with no blood, looking at it as it arrived on our table I wasn’t feeling confident it had been fulfilled. Even cutting into it and seeing the red ooze out, I went “oh no.” But then I realised that the red was just the juices, not in fact the blood, and the inside was very acceptably cooked: in fact, my butcher Hubbie very assertively said that given the size and request, it was cooked to perfection. Farrrrr. He said perfect? And after I tasted it, I couldn’t agree more. Well you’d hope so for $41.

It had a great flavour, and although the porcini and red wine butter was very distinctive in taste, I actually loved it, and was remembering the taste days after the meal. I had crisp fries and salad on the side, and happily ate it all. The salad was like the salad we’d tasted on baby girl’s plate, crisp and so-fresh tasting. It’s so hard to get a fresh salad nowadays. And the tomatoes, actually TASTED like a tomato, straight from the garden.

Hubbie’s meal of pork belly was baked confit-style, and so he wasn’t used to eating it a different colour than the usual grilled-style colour he gets. However it was soft and flavoursome, and he thoroughly enjoyed the Asian style salad on the side which had sweet and spicy characteristics. The combination was good, different yet still enjoyable.

Considering we had both ordered different meals to our usual choices, at a first-time restaurant for us, and been happy with the results, I thought of as a very good outcome. It’s hard to win at that, but we did. All the food was soon gone, even baby girl’s with our assistance.

I was feeling really content after my meal, but not overly-full like I’d felt the previous night. We decided to do it, and boy were we happy when we both ordered and got this:

Affogato – Genovese espresso, vanilla ice cream, liqueur of choice, hazelnut biscotti

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While baby girl got scoops of vanilla ice cream. At only $3 a serve, why the hell not?

I had requested bailey’s on the side while Hubbie had asked for cointreau. The presentation of the ice cream with coffee on the side, a shot of liqueur to the other side, and a biscuit in the ice cream, was PERFECT. It looked divine, and it TASTED divine. I loved the biscuit. LOVED LOVED LOVED it. Tell me where you buy it and I’m buying it in bulk. Beautiful accompaniment to the coffee, a great crunchy and nutty texture. YUM.

The only fault with this dish, that kept it from being a 10/10, was the quantity of coffee. The quality was excellent, but there was just that little bit too little coffee in the cup. But if that’s the only fault, you know they’re doing well.

Everything went superbly that night. Along with our amazing food, our waitresses, in particular our main one was very, very nice and friendly, including to baby girl, and it was on that night we were starting to realise just how much of a difference that makes to her. When she shrieks, she does it out of joy, or for attention, and with the waitresses actually responding and smiling at her, as the other very friendly nearby diners were, she was absolutely rapt. She was a happier baby, which made our time there much, much happier. Some people may not care much for ratings on ambience and the nature of the staff and the people who frequent the restaurants we go to, but trust me, with children in tow, these things are vital. Because if your child is happy with you, your experience will be all the more enjoyable. Especially with children, friendliness matters.

The waitresses here seemed nicer than those at Barwon Orange (and s!&t all over the ones at Annie’s – sorry to be so frank), and maybe that was solely because they had actually smiled and spoken to her. I don’t need waiters to pick up my girl and twirl her around. I just want them to acknowledge her with a smile, when she smiles and waves at them. I want her growing up knowing that there are good people in this world. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

The friendliness of those around us, along with the more spacious nature of the restaurant, meant that even when baby girl shrieked with glee at all the attention she was getting, it was drowned out, meaning no chefs were looking over from their kitchens this night. LOL. Family-friendly, tick.

Food: 8.5/10. Simple food, done well. I like how the colour of our fries was golden, meaning fresh oil. That affogato… OMG. Almost 10/10 on its own.

Coffee: 8.5/10. Would like to try their cappuccinos one day, if their short blacks are anything to go by.

Ambience: Fantastic for families. Big and loud, but still that bit special and fancy.

Staff: Apart from the door-lady, our waitresses were very friendly and very nice. Our main waitress was constantly on-the-go, yet despite this still managed to give attention to baby girl. At one stage she was so busy she forgot to bring us our dessert menu, but we totally didn’t mind as we were having the best time. She didn’t forget the other crucial thing though, which was the smiling of course. 🙂

People: Fancier inside, but really lovely. Two large groups of people were seated near us throughout the night, and both times they were all so nice, and unexpectedly giving baby girl loads of attention. I mean LOADS. This was baby girl’s night, she was loving it. This kept her distracted, occupied and busy, which made things easier for us, and a distinguishable key in the success of the night.

Price: Well, we ordered 3 meals, 3 desserts, and 3 drinks. Some large, some small. For a total of under the mid $100s, which was expected. On key, I think, price-wise.

Advice: Book in advance. I think this is a Barwon Heads thing. Or a holiday-period thing. Or a Summer thing. Either way, just book, anywhere in Barwon Heads. And that’s it. Nothing else. Loved it.

In a nutshell: Simple food, served well and fresh and wholesome, in a great bustling environment that’s still fancy enough for those wanting something finer – just dine inside if you want fancy. We were really happy with our night, our meals, and how happily everyone there responded to our baby girl. A lot of great memories were made on that particular night in Barwon Heads, at Beach House Barwon Heads, which means we’ll look back on it fondly. We will definitely go back on our next visit in town, and I will end on this note: Thank God I didn’t let the exterior form my final opinion on dining there.

There’s a good moral for ya. 😉

Beach House Barwon Heads on Urbanspoon

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One thought on “Affogatos rock at the Swish Beach House

  1. Pingback: Cafe Mari-tapas | smikg

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