Seven years ago David and Kylie Pollard moved their family from Sydney’s Northern Beaches to Port Stephens. They were sick and tired of the traffic and wanted the opportunity to own their own home.
They also had a dream –to open a restaurant with a view.
David is a chef and Kylie has more than 20 years of hospitality to her name. Together, they own and run Saltwater Restaurant above Fingal Beach Surf Life Saving Club which opened late last yearto a local and tourist market hungry for quality food with a view.
And what a view it is.
Pollard worked at Club Med in the Whitsundays and the Rockpool Group after completing his cooking apprenticeship. He was head chef at “a little restaurant in Newport” and also spent time working in London and with the Solotel Group in Sydney.
“The idea of opening a restaurant bythe water came about 15 years ago. It was just a matter of an opening becomingavailable for us. When we first walked into the space above the surf club we just knew the dreamwould come to fruition,” he said.
DREAM: Chef David Pollard at Saltwater which he owns and runs with wife Kylie, who is in charge of front-of-house. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
Saltwater’s menu revolves around locally-sourced seafood.The seafood platter for two is popular, as well asthe caramel chilli lamb rack and theprawn, squid and Vongole clam angel hair pasta with chilli oil and citrus zest.
“My philosophy is to start withthe very best fresh, localseafood and produce – and we have an abundance here in Port Stephens –and let theingredients speak for themselves,” Pollard said.
“There’s always a well-balanced selection ofseasonal dishes.We use local farmers Holberts oysters, Monin Seafoods and a local fruit and vegetable supplier who sources fromNewcastle Farmers Markets.We love to showcase the fresh local fish, musselsand oysters of Port Stephens. I trust my seafood supplier and ask him ‘What’s good this week?’ and we work out the specials around his suggestions.”
Tourists make up a large part of Saltwater’s customer base butPollard says “locals keep coming back because there’s alwayssomething new to try”. Families are welcome and whale-watching is encouraged.
The couple didn’t want to compete with the venue’s panoramic views of Fingal Bay so worked with designer Morag Argiris to adopt an “inviting and understated Hamptons-meets-beach style”.
“We stilllove watching peoples’ reactions as they enter for the first time,” Kylie Pollardsaid.
“It’s important to us that people feel relaxed and at home here.”
Their vision is to make Saltwater the premier wedding location in the region.
“I believe Port Stephens isone ofthe most spectacular places on earth,” Dave Pollard said. “This is a dream cometrue and we are so proud to be able to share it.”