My little family of three recently had the loveliest lazy weekend in Merimbula on the Sapphire Coast of New South Wales filled with some essential lazy weekend requirements – plenty of down time, sleep ins, beach walks and some mighty fine local food. The best of which we found was at Wheelers Oyster Farm & Seafood Restaurant.
We made the three hour car trip from Canberra to Merimbula late on Friday night, leaving Saturday morning for my number one essential for a lazy long weekend; sleeping in. Waking up refreshed we were met with blue skies and crystal blue water views of Merimbula Lake.
After breakfast, it was off down the road with a short eight minute drive to Wheelers in the neighbouring town of Pambula to learn about the secret life of the Merimbula Rock Oyster, sold around Australia as the Sydney Rock Oyster.
We arrived to discover that on the property is Wheelers Oyster Farm, the beautiful Wheelers Seafood Restaurant and Wheelers Retail Store selling take away food and quirky souvenirs. The hour long tour starts at the retail store; from there we were taken through the farming process, learning about the oyster life cycle and the technology now used to make the farming process easier and about how oysters have evolved from growing wildly on rocks to being farmed in cylindrical mesh barrels. We learnt that Oysters are filter feeders, so farming them in the pristine waters of Merimbula Lake makes them amongst the best in Australia.
Not only were we treated to a freshly farmed oyster shucked right before our eyes on whilst on the tour, the tour itself concludes back at Wheelers Retail Store with a tasting platter of 4 oysters – Mornay, Kilpatrick, Rock Special and Natural. One of the tastiest tours I have ever done! What made it all even better was knowing that the oysters were farmed across the road from the restaurant and then cleaned, graded and freshly shucked before becoming my delicious snack.
Take the tour | 11am Monday to Saturday | No booking required – meet at Wheelers Retail Store 162 Arthur Kaine Drive, Pambula NSW
Adults $12.50 | Children Aged 10 – 16 $8.00 | Children under 10 free
With our appetites well and truly whetted by all this talk (and tasting) of oysters we retreated to the impressive wooden deck of the adjoining Wheelers Seafood Restaurant for lunch. The gracious hospitality started as soon as we were seated at our table. With its relaxed atmosphere and a menu which showcases the region’s local fresh produce, Wheelers Seafood Restaurant was ticking off another lazy weekend essential…..a lazy lunch!
Starting with Wild Rye’s freshly baked Panini served with butter, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic and confit garlic the husband and I agonised over the menu for a while…it is full of tempting dishes utilising local produce including award winning Eden Smoke house Salmon and fresh fish.
My daughter on the other hand made up her mind for lunch quite quickly; she bypassed the Kids Menu for a plate of half a dozen Wheelers Natural Oysters with another order of the Wild Rye’s Panini.
The husband and I finally decided on the half a dozen Wheelers Topped Oysters to share. All our oysters were smooth, plump and salty from the waters. The toppings that we chose were perfection! We tried the Shanghai with ginger, kaffir lime, soy, mild chilli and shallot, the Japanese with pickled ginger, cucumber and wasabi dressing and Thai Style with Nam Jim, Spanish onion and chilli.
Not wanting to miss out on trying as much as we could we shared two entrees. The Tiger Prawns cooked in a light lime batter with a crispy noodle salad and house made sweet chilli sauce was my favourite of the two. The husband’s favourite was the Chilli Salt Calamari which featured tender calamari dusted in aromatic spices with a salad of grapefruit, pistachio nut, coriander and mint finished with a tangy passionfruit dressing and lime mayo. Both dishes were packed with fresh vibrant flavours and have me salivating at the thought of them again.
We ended the meal with a visit back to the Wheelers Retail Store for a little tub each of our favourite Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Leaving Wheelers we all had an extreme sense of satisfaction from the unique farm to plate experience that we just had and a return trip is definitely on the horizon as we head into summer and we can indulge in more lazy weekends.
*Sophia and her family were guests of Wheelers Oyster Farm for the tour and then happily paid for their delicious seafood lunch at Wheelers Seafood Restaurant.