The Central Coast is famous for its nature, the beaches, fun, adventure and its laid back lifestyle. We do enjoy a day trip, for it is only about an hour away from Sydney, or even better a weekend away to explore. We are always keen to try out a new cafe or restaurant when in the region, and that’s just what we did at Bon Pavilion. Though i’m sure this will remain on our return list, for it is, without a doubt one of the best regional restaurants we’ve visited.
The Bon Pavilion is located in the heart of the Central Coast, in Gosford, an area which gains the odd mention from the local soccer team the Mariners. The profile of Gosford has now been raised by famous local investor, John Singleton (of Bells at Killcare, Saddles at Mt White to name a few) and his new project, the 14 storey development, the Bonython Tower. Together with Brian and Karina Barry, of Bells at Killcare and Pretty Beach House, they have brought to us ‘The Bon Pavilion’. It occupies the lower premises of this tower, and a pavilion it certainly is. It is a huge and flexible architectural open space, where people can come in and meet, have a coffee and cake, light lunch, alcoholic drink in the sports bar or a sophisticated meal in the upmarket restaurant.
There’s also a private dining-room cellar, Bon Vin. It is certainly a versatile space.
The space is stunning. Its interior decorators show class and creativity, with multiple textures from marble, to leather, velvet, wood and glass. The art and furnishings are seamless, to distinguish between the many spaces within the single venue. The decor is inspired by Australia’s rugged beauty.
The tan leather banquette seating contrasts well with black walls and tables, the impressive wooden staircase, and wooden slats on the walls. They use dried native flora featuring as centerpieces on tables and walls and the blend well with the decor.
The casual cafe dining space is distinguished with a beautiful and extraordinarily impressive mural by Lisa King, a great piece of functional art which reflects the dining space and produce on offer. One half of the mural is of an indigenous women, Biripi woman Elsie Stuart. It also features a a nod to Singleton, a bird lover, for the image features a bird on her shoulder.
We are met by the Licensee Jen, previously of Sydney restaurant group overseeing Bentley, Monopole, Yellow and Cirrus. Her experience in the hospitality field is on show, as demonstrated through her impeccable service and overseeing of the waitstaff, who are young, but outstanding and show great initiative and skill. Our waiter on the day, Adam O’Dell was a very professional and knowledgeable member of staff and made the dining experience run very smoothly. A credit to himself and the venue.
The Bon Pavilion really is the complete package, somewhere for locals and visitors alike to embrace. Executive chef Sean Conolly (ex. Morrison Bar and Oyster Room) has complemented this stunning venue with equally great food. The food is prepared with ethically sourced premium ingredients delivered with precision and superb culinary technique. The menu has an emphasis on proteins cooked on the bone for enhanced flavour.
We dined for lunch from the Bon Fire Grill, which has the feel of an upmarket steakhouse that would not be out of place in any cosmopolitan city. The seafood options on the menu were all of a high standard, this is understandable considering the proximity to the Brisbane water estuaries and access to fresh seafood from the coast. Beginning with some fresh oysters, served with a nice cab sav mignonette was a great way to start. We ate these with some house baked bread, which came with some creamy vegemite butter (I wish I could bottle this stuff and have it every day).
The king fish ceviche (g) was beautifully planted, a very delicate and pretty dish, nicely cured with lime an added kick from fresh jalepenos and garnished with baby coriander.
The grilled king prawns, one of our favourites, cooked in garlic and a pernod butter (gf) is an absolutely quintessential Australian dish that saw the flavour of the prawns highlighted through the method of cooking on the grill.
The grilled Petuna Ocean Trout (gf) also highlights our fresh Australian produce, served with avocado and cucumber, the dish also utilised Japanese flavours with pickled ginger and a seaweed salad with a miso dressing. The fish was perfectly cooked, a nice coral colour, the flesh flakey and the skin crisp. By far, this was our pick of the day.
If you’re not seafood lovers like us, don’t be alarmed, there is plenty of choice including a range of Australian proteins to choose from. The Lamb Barnsley chop is a classic, a tasty cut of meat prepared on the bone, which as it is naturally a fatty cut of meat, this intensifies the flavour. This was served with wilted greens, fresh mint sauce as well as a choice of red wine gravy, miso hollandaise or garlic and pernod butter, because let’s face it, you can never have too much sauce to choose from.
Much of the menu is suitable for gluten free diners. They also have vegan dishes. The menu has some options for families to share and appropriate options for children as well. The venue is certainly child friendly.
The drink list is extensive, since their bar is enormous. They’ve got a great range of cocktails and they’re pretty too!
Somehow managing to spare some room for dessert. The Bon Pavilion does offer a New York cheesecake, Pavlova on more. We were keen to touch on a sense of nostalgia through one of their affectionately known desserts, an ice cream called the ‘dropped softie’. The addition of this onto the menu was a designed by Connolly with a modern take on our childhood classics. The dessert is extremely good value, generous portion of soft serve ice cream (which can come dairy-free), essentially dropped on a plate. This is a good thing, as you don’t have to deal with the melted ice cream dripping down your fingers and turning sticky. The softie we devoured was served with popcorn and smothered in salted caramel. This was so very moreish and impossible not to finish. Keep an eye out for their weekly dropped softie specials, all based on classic flavours including the wagon wheel, iced vovo, mint slice and monte carlo to name a few. The dropped softie reminded us of our youth and the Mr Whippy’s truck’s chimes driving down the street.
The pavilion also features a more relaxed cafe, where you can pop in for a poke bowl, panini or a house made pastry, and a coffee. It is open early so you can come by before work or grab a coffee and muffin on the go. The coffee is by Josie Coffee, a family owned and operated business based in Newcastle. This place is really a one stop stop in Gosford.
We were extremely impressed with everything about Bon Pavillion, so much so we were immediately thinking of excuses to return. This ambitious project has certainly paid off.
Thank you to everyone involved at the Bon Pavilion Visit Central Coast for organising our visit.
159 Mann Street
Saturday – Sunday
Bon Bon Bar
12pm – 12am
11.30am – midnight
Bonfire (grill and steakhouse/dining room)
Mon – Fri
12.00pm – 3.00pm
5.30pm – 9.30pm
Sat and Sun