- Family friendly
- Great coeliac knowledge and gluten free option
- Warm and approachable staff
During Michael’s last full week of paternity leave, we decided to spend a few days down the coast in the last week of August.
We left Canberra around 11am, and reached Braidwood around 12.30 for a spot of lunch (after a brief toilet stop for the toddler in Bungendore). Any coeliacs passing through Braidwood should know this – there is NOTHING here for you! It turns out that on Tuesdays almost everything is closed in Braidwood except for the Braidwood Bakery.
Although they had banana bread and cookies marked as gluten free, I obviously wasn’t going to risk eating anything baked or prepped in a bakery. It just didn’t feel safe. I dined on a Carmens almond, cashew and cranberry nut bar and an apple in the car as we left Braidwood, promising myself to pack sandwiches for the return journey!
At Batemans Bay, we stopped at Coles and picked up some groceries. We’d rented an apartment with a kitchen in Malua Bay, so we’d planned to cook most of the time, or picnic. In our bags, we’d packed up a variety of gluten free foods, my trusted toaster bags, and a couple of pans so that we could cook and eat safely.
We did eat out for a few meals though, and on Wednesday night we decided to get seafood and headed to Stingrays Ocean and Grill in Batemans Bay. We got to Stingrays around 6pm and the place was mostly empty except for a couple of other families with small children.
Stingrays is very family friendly with a children’s play area in one corner and a wooden bar in the shape of a ship. The walls were cream with large pictures of stingrays and the local beaches, and shell art. Hanging from the ceiling were little fishing nets, and artfully placed flotsam and jetsam. There were plenty of sturdy wooden tables and chairs, and booths on opposite sides of the room. The atmosphere was warm, fun, and nautical!
When we arrived, a very friendly waitress met us at the door and told us to pick a table. We opted for a corner booth next to the ship bar. While Michael, Bel and I sat down and got comfortable, Milly immediately ran off to the children’s play area and was gone, only returning when forced to eat her dinner!
The wait staff left us with menus and headed off while I nursed Bel and Michael browsed the food options. The menus were a mix of grilled meats and seafood, and almost everything was labelled as gluten free. When the wait staff returned for our order, I told her I was coeliac and she was great! She stated everything was gluten free except the bread and went on to describe her own experiences eating gluten free, and learning about coeliacs. She was a pleasure to talk to – friendly, understanding and knowledgeable!
Michael and I had a quick discussion and decided to share the Grilled Seafood Platter for one with seasonal vegetables and wedges. This came with a choice of four fish – hoki, ling, barramundi or snapper. We opted for the snapper and were informed when we ordered that it would be an extra $10 as the snapper came out whole. We got the kids fish and chips for Milly, with the juice box and ice cream upgrade and ordered ginger beer for Michael and an apple juice for me to drink.
After a short wait, our drinks came out followed by Milly’s fish and chips. The portion was far too big for her to eat alone so naturally, I sampled it while Michael tried to wrangle her from the play area. I have no idea what type of fish it was but it was very nicely cooked, though the batter was a bit blonde. The chips were pretty standard but I still found the whole thing quite satisfying, probably because it’d been so long since I was able to eat fish and chips at a restaurant without the paranoia of cross contamination. It came with a portion of tomato ketchup and tartare sauce.
A little later, the grilled seafood platter and sides were brought out. Again, it’s been a very long time since I have been able to eat bog standard wedges with sour cream and sweet thai chilli sauce, so when this came out I was very happy! It tasted exactly as it should, crispy, sweet and creamy. For non-coeliacs who can eat wedges without a thought they were nothing special, but for me it was my own greasy little piece of heaven!
The seasonal veggies were as expected. The green beans, broccoli, broccolini and zucchini were a little underdone for my taste, but the sweet corn was good. They came with a lemon butter, though we didn’t try much of it.
What made Stingrays really enjoyable was the seafood. Seafood in Canberra is alright but nothing beats fresh fish and shellfish down the coast! The grilled seafood platter contained bruschetta oysters, lime, chilli and garlic squid, creamy garlic prawns and grilled whole snapper – all beautifully cooked!
I started off with the oysters. Full disclosure, I generally don’t like oysters because they’re like swallowing snot. To give a full review though, I bit the slimy bullet and was pleasantly surprised. The oysters were very fresh and tasted slightly salty. They were topped with red onion and tomato although there was a little too much red onion for my taste.
The lime, chilli and garlic squid was really good. The marinade was tomato-y but with a slight spice that built over time causing tingly lips, but neither the spice or garlic was overpowering. The squid was also cooked perfectly, the texture was firm and creamy rather than chewy, which is always a risk with squid.
The creamy garlic prawns were also a hit for me. Although there were only three prawns, they were firm and nicely cooked. The sauce was very tasty – rich and garlicky and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
The whole snapper came out topped with tomatoes, capsicum and red onion. To be honest, this added very little to the fish and we scraped most of it off! Again, the fish itself was perfectly cooked, moist and soft. There were bones in it of course, but the meat fell from the bone easily and they weren’t a problem.
In total our dinner and drinks came to $81.00 with the seafood platter costing $55.00. Although Michael thought this was a bit pricey, I was pretty happy. I think because Michael can eat fish and chips wherever and whenever he pleases, his standards are probably a bit higher than mine – I haven’t had fish and chips at a restaurant for over five years!
The following day, we found ourselves back at Stingrays for lunch. Again, the service was great and the food was yummy! We ordered the chicken nuggets and salad for Milly, which went down pretty well, and the chicken nuggets were pieces of crumbed chicken breast rather than processed ‘chicken’.
Michael and I were so happy with what we had the night before that we chose one of the specials – the squid and prawn combo with sweet potato chips, as well as garlic bread and a crab and avocado salad (without red onion) to share. We also ordered a decaf and a standard flat white each.
The coffee came out promptly and it was actually pretty good for a fish and chip joint – Michael was happy with his and my decaf was good, it didn’t have the weird chemically flavour that decaf often has. The squid and prawns were delicious as expected, and the sweet potato chips were crispy and sweet – very nice dipped in the garlic prawn sauce!
The garlic bread was a bit weird but satisfying – it was four slices of regular gluten free bread coated in lots of garlic butter. It was tasty, warm and soft!
The crab and avocado salad was nice and light. It contained salad leaves, pea sprouts, lots of tomato, avocado and thousand island dressing. The thousand island dressing was a little sweet but not unpleasant and there was plenty of crab in it. It was quite nice – like a fancy prawn cocktail!
Our lunch totalled $67.00 which was reasonable for what we ordered. Both of my experiences at Stingrays were good and I was happy with the food but even happier about the service! The staff were all extremely friendly and they had a good knowledge of coeliac requirements. Next time we’re down the coast, we’ll definitely be returning!
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4/1 Clyde St, Batemans Bay NSW 2536
02 4472 3669