Mikkayla reviews: Pier St — ‘a fantastic meal’
3 Pier Street, Portarlington
The drive leading into Portarlington is stunning – scenes of rolling hills and leafy vines that beckon down roads leading to the various cellar doors dotting the area. The vibrant greenery almost obscures the fact that the town is situated overlooking the stunning Port Phillip Bay… the most perfect mix of coastal and rural.
A charming eatery sits at the mouth of the pier. Kiosk in style, cafe in looks… but when it comes to the menu and quality of dishes served, it’s a heavy-hitting restaurant.
Aptly named Pier St., the venue is a favourite amongst locals and well-deserving of the attention of day-trippers. Its menu is contemporary-Australian with a seafood focus – and some surprising inclusions that hint towards the owner’s other hospitality venture.
You come for the views, but you’ll definitely want to stick around for Portarlington’s famous mussels – and this year in particular the town is bursting with them following the cancellation of their annual Mussel Festival.
Pier St. offer 3 versions of moules frites – there’s a smokey seafood chowder with a kick of chilli ($22); a creamy coconut Thai red curry with bursts of zesty lemongrass and coriander ($24); or the classic favourite – French-style moules marnier ($24). The garlicky, briny broth is full of fresh ocean flavour, and accompanied by crusty bread. If you haven’t accidentally dripped into your lap several times by the end, then you aren’t doing it right. A handy tip is to ask for extra pieces of the Zeally Bay baguette to soak up the rich, creamy, emulsified sauce… and don’t be frugal with the butter!
Their miso salmon salad is the perfect sharing dish to have on the side – cold soba noodles, edamame and avocado are tossed through a nutty sesame dressing ($21) and is a refreshing, umami-flavoured side for the main course: Pier St’s famous fish and chip platter is an almost-overwhelming mound of golden, battered flathead filets; fat and juicy crumbed prawns; delicate strands of calamari in a light tempura coating; with lemon wedges, salad and a selection of dipping sauces on the side ($46).
There is a good variety of non-seafood options if preferred – the spiced lamb shoulder is pull-apart tender and full of Middle-Eastern inspired spices. Piled onto a hummus-laden flatbread base and freshened up with fresh tomato, cucumber, radish and pickled onion, there is both zest and warmth in each mouthful ($20). There’s also the confit pekin duck – crispy breast hiding tender meat with smokey cinnamon flavours ($45) – and a pea and broadbean risotto served with a poached egg ($24).
The wine and cocktail list is simple to navigate – and potentially-easy to get carried away with in the beaming sunshine with the sounds of the waves lapping in the bay and the songs of the galahs enjoying themselves in the nearby trees. The wait staff are prompt but relaxed – there’s no rush to vacate your table if you’re happy enjoying the sunshine and couple of glasses of Louis Perdrier Brut ($10/48).
For a place so gloriously escapist, Portarlington sure is easily accessible. The Port Phillip ferry comes from the city and pulls up right on the doorstep in 70 minutes and there is plenty of parking if you decide to drive. With the kitchen using locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible, you can be well assured by the setting alone that this casual-but-stylish place is going to deliver a fantastic meal – with or without the bird song.
Open Monday – Saturday 8am – 9pm, Sunday 8am – 4pm