Wharf Restaurant

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1/4 Sanctuary Road, Cable Beach
Phone: (08) 9192 5700


Red dirt, turquoise sea, white flesh. That is my first trip to Broome summarised in six words. I could add others: tropical, hot, humid (in November, at least), historical, friendly, camels… all would be appropriate. But those first six were my defining ones.

I have experienced that very reddest of dirt many times before, though not so much now, day-to-day in my home suburb of West Leederville, so it is always a powerful reminder of my adopted homeland’s heritage when I do tread it again.

Swimming in the bath-warm waters of the Indian Ocean is akin to being set adrift in a Matisse painting, the horizon barely discernible as the sea and sky melt into a single haze of pastel blues and turquoises. Who needs a float tank when you can lie there all day?

However, the white flesh is the real reason for our visit to Broome, as guests of Cable Beach’s Wharf Restaurant (‘Fresh Fish – Fresh Air – Fresh Service’). A 30-year-old local institution, the Wharf Restaurant is owned by Craig and Jasmine Douglas, alongside long-term Head Chef Hau Duong and an amazing team of dedicated staff. Their proposition is serving and celebrating top quality seafood dining in a relaxed atmosphere, fresh, local and simple.

North Western fishermen supply much of the sustainably caught seafood daily, with only the non-local produce (i.e. oysters, mussels and kingfish) flown in direct from South Australia. The food and drink menus make deliberate nods to the region’s rich cultural heritage of Japanese migrants. From the mid-1800s, these men and women brought their skills in both pearl fishing and Asian cuisine, and the latter is now infused deeply into the local tastes.

The Wharf’s food philosophy is don’t over-sauce or overpower, rather deliver concentrated hints of flavours that best serve to complement the dish. This approach is exemplified in two of our very favourite meals served during our stay, the South Australian Chilli Mussels, and the Grilled Barramundi.

The SA Mussels are slathered in a South East Asian-style slow-cooked rich tomato sauce. Thick and chunky, the sauce fully permeates into the mussels, all combining into a unified flavour rather than a discernible mix of ingredients, delivering a satisfyingly slight burn at the back of the throat. Served with chopped parsley, fries and in-house garlic bread, it is delicious and substantial, so a suitable dish to share. Noticeably and unusually, every mussel shell served had opened, demonstrating laudable attention to detail by the kitchen. Try pairing it with the 2021 Snake & Herring ‘Sabotage’ Reisling, whose preserved lemon citrus and lime curd notes provide a refreshing contrast.

The Grilled Barramundi with steamed rice and Thai style green sauce is, to be honest, one of the menu’s plainer looking dishes. However, what it lacks in visual flair is more than made up for by its superb taste profile. It just hits the spot, with the in-house Thai green sauce adding the perfect hint of sweetness to the savoury fish. We would order this again without hesitation.

Other dishes that err to the ‘understated’ include the sashimi, oysters, scallops and grilled prawns, all of which are of the quality and taste one would expect of the freshest seafood.

However, if its visual flair you are after, Wharf Restaurant has got you covered. Literally so, as these next two dishes best require the donning of protective bibs! Tactile and visceral, both come with tongs, crab forks and shell crackers, and require that you get on in there. The Seafood Coconut Curry with steamed rice is a riot of colour and flavour from its North West prawns, Shark Bay crab, calamari, mussels, barramundi and green vegetables. The shell-on cooking concentrates the ‘proper’ seafood taste, is infused with lemongrass and can be ordered mild, medium or hot. The Kimberley Chilli Mud Crab is a sister dish to the SA Mussels and provides an equally intense taste experience. Like many dishes on the menu, both are substantial portions making them ideal to share. For a wine, the citrus and floral notes of the excellent 2022 Yilgarnia Semillon Sauvignon Blanc provide a superb taste profile match for both.

Another visually dramatic dish is the Whole Crispy Reef Fish, served with ginger soy and shallot sauce, salad and fries. Likewise, the WA Slipper Lobster, a Kimberley version of a Morton Bay Bug, served grilled with butter, lemon and parsley. Both are gorgeous to look at and delightful to eat.

Last, but by no means least, are The Wharf’s Famous Barramundi Wings. Do fish have wings? Well, they do in Broome. These are the shoulder part of the fish, which are caught wild locally. Once deep fried, the fins become crispy and edible, akin to prawn tails. On the menu since day one in 1995, the locals love them and they are also now a popular takeaway. Filling and substantial, they are very moreish with that Thai green dressing, again adding a lot to the flavour. It is like eating chicken wings from an alternate universe.

Wharf Restaurant deserves its local institution status. The building provides diners the choice of relaxing outside under the extensive shade and foliage patios, or sitting inside in air-conditioned comfort. And for aperitifs, either pre or post meal, their extensive cocktail menu further leverages Broome’s cultural heritage, as it derives entirely from spirits and Sakes sourced from Broome and Kununurra, or imported directly from Japan. We toasted our visit and our sated stomachs with a Miss Tropic (lychee, Kununurra tropical gin) and a Sayuri Storm (Sake, Cointreau, Japanese Vodka).

Fully sated and satisfied, our next stop: floating in that warm turquoise sea again.


By Paul Hindle


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