Rick Stein at Bannisters — Port Stephens, Australia

Rick Stein at Bannisters — Port Stephens, Australia

Whispers of Palm Springs and a marine palette make for a breezy beachfront setting at Bannisters Port Stephens, a boutique hotel overlooking Salamander Bay – a seaside getaway north of Sydney.

Set below the lobby – which is awash with gelato-hued furnishings including eucalyptus pink cushioned couches, vintage B&B Italia armchairs, and gumnut green velvet sofas that reference the hillside – is Rick Stein’s restaurant, the celebrity chef’s third venture with the Bannisters hotel group.

‘The concept for the lobby and casual terrace restaurant was to be fresh and young, but nod to the nostalgic motel feel from its past,’ explains Romy Alwill from Sydney-based Alwill Interiors who, together with designer Mia Ward, also crafted Stein’s restaurant. ‘We wanted Rick’s to have its own uniquely Australian feel relating to the surrounding bushland and also the stunning views down the bay.’

A moulded U-shaped bar sits centre stage in the lofty open plan dining area, it’s Prussian Blue shade anchoring it firmly to waxed terracotta tiles. Similar deep sea-shaded arced leather banquettes stud the dining areas decked with sand-toned smoked European Oak floors and wicker dining chairs. ‘They’re punches of Rick’s signature blue (fresh from the Pacific of course!),’ adds Alwil. Hand-coloured Japanese wallpaper seeps into a feature wall, gently undulating like ocean ripples under the flicker of leather wall sconces sprouting from cantilevered arms.

While you won’t often find Stein tossing pans over flames in the kitchen, he worked closely with head chef, Mitchell Turner, designing a menu that nets the best of local catches. Signatures include: Madras fish curry, steamed mussels with macadamias and parsley and an ultra creamy fish pie gratinated with breadcrumbs and parmesan, all lending themselves perfectly to generous pours of chilled white specially crafted by the nearby Hunter Valley’s Brokenwood Wines in collaboration with Stein. §

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