Sydney-based chef Julian Cincotta (Butter) and designer Tara Bennett (Provider Store) left the city for a weekend escape along the New South Wales Central Coast. Studded with hidden holiday gems, and only an hour's drive out of Sydney, the coastline proves the perfect place for an out-of-town breather.
As part of Gourmet Traveller's partnership with the New Mazda CX-5, the creative duo checked out the seaside eats and stays that make the destination a cut above.
Here, the friends' three favourite Central Coast pit-stops.
Cottage Point Inn, Cottage Point
The holiday atmosphere at Cottage Point Inn is palpable. Pull up a seat on the deck and ponder the menu to the hum of seaplanes and passing tinnies. Sitting on the lower reaches of the Hawkesbury, an hour's drive out of Sydney, the waterfront restaurant aces the long-weekend vibe.
Chef Kevin Solomon (ex-Guillaume) took over the kitchen in 2017 and serves a seasonally-driven, French-leaning menu. Dishes are beautifully presented and brightly flavoured: the kingfish, lovage and wasabi Cornetto cone starters showcase Solomon's innovative play on textures and cuisines. The rest of the four-course offering is just as sophisticated, with standouts including coal-roasted prawns with cumquat marmalade and mirror Dory with miso caramel and native herbs. If you're looking to go all-out, the eight-dish dégustation provides a smart mix of fresh seafood, full-flavoured vegetables and smart desserts, including toasted fennel seed ice-cream with dense liquorice cake.
A bonus for drivers, such as Cincotta and Bennett, the wine list includes an exceptional range of half-bottles. The friends chose to use the New Mazda CX-5 as their weekend mode of transport, the SUV-style car's powerful engine and i-ACTIV AWD sensor monitoring perfect for the changing road conditions along the journey. 2 Anderson Place, Cottage Point, cottagepointinn.com.au
Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf, Woy Woy
Top-notch seafood by the water. Add in some excellent chips and fun snacks (fish tacos, barramundi spring rolls), and Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf proves a hard spot to pass by. Family-owned and run for more than 40 years, the venue was originally a small boat-hire business before becoming a fishmonger in the 1980s. Becoming a restaurant in 2011, the wharf quickly built a reputation for its takes on classic seafood dishes made with exceptionally fresh fish.
Last year, the seaside eatery launched its latest iteration, revealing a clean new dining space realised in timber interiors and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. No-fuss menu favourites — fish and chips, calamari, prawn cutlets — remain alongside snapper ceviche with citrus and coconut milk, pippis in XO sauce and, an undisputed highlight, Singaporean-style blue swimmer crab. The Wharf's sustainable approach means all catch (with the exception of Tasmanian salmon) is bought off little boats rather than large trawlers, and diners are encouraged to walk through the fish shop beforehand to select their seafood.
Finding a stool along the wraparound deck, Cincotta and Bennett tucked into the chilli crab, tempura sea scallops with barbecued sardines and lemon salsa, and split barbecued scampi served up with sweet chilli sauce. The Boulevarde, Woy Woy, woywoyfishermenswharf.com.au
Copacabana Holiday House, Copacabana
Set atop a grassy clifftop overlooking the winding coastline between Avoca and Macmasters beaches is Copacabana Holiday House. The reworked 1970s build is only a 300-metre walk from a patrolled beach and rockpool. Transformed into a modern off-the-grid holiday haven, the beach house's Scandi-inspired style fits seamlessly with its idyllic surroundings.
Throughout the house, thoughtful finishes lend the place a sense relaxed luxury: floating bathroom counters are custom-made in spotted gum while bespoke organic-style pendant lightshades hang over the kitchen. With the aim of maintaining the bones of the property, the owners selected furniture pieces to reflect the home's rustic beauty and native surrounds.
An expansive deck allows for summertime entertaining and whale watching, while a bedroom loft above the living room makes for a cosy hangout come cooler months. While you're only a drive from Sydney, the rental's peaceful setting makes you feel worlds away. 191A Del Monte Pl, Copacabana, airbnb.com.au