Pimp My Plate #9 – Hornsy, NSW

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas – I pop up all over over the place. My foodie challenge to find a good meal – lunch or brunch – with a limited budget of $18 or less for the main plate.

Bluwater Grill – restaurant

Bluwater Grill sprawls across a corner where the mall intersects at the Victor Cusack-designed giant water-clock installation. The water-clock is the central belly-button of the mall, but years later it still has birthing issues.

The water clock and Hornsby Council ‘have history’.  The sculpture’s maker, Victor Cusack, has accused the council of breaching his ‘moral rights’ as an artist, and has threatened to invoke a rarely used clause in the Copyright Act in a bid to force the council to restore his artwork to its original working form. It is in working order as a fountain, but not as a clock.

You can sit indoors or outdoors at this a large, airy, café-restaurant and pass the time, or ponder if time has stood still, as it currently has with the water-clock.

Bluwater’s menu is divided into starters, salads, pastas and risottos, light meals, and some interesting sounding tapas plates to share.

With Mediterranean flavours as a starting point, the tapas menu also includes Asian-inspired tapas flavours: Twice baked crispy pork belly bits with sticky soy dressing; Peking duck pancakes, with shallots & hoisin ($14.95); and Seared scallops with a seaweed salad, ($16.90).

While these flavours sounded delicious, I was looking for one main plate to satisfy a hungry patron – me!

It was hard to scroll past …. BBQ salmon, prawn & pistachio burger w pickled cucumber, avocado, lime mayo w fries ($18.50).  Quite a mouthful, and it literally was. I asked the waitress to deconstruct this description for me and she answered, ‘salmon burger’.

I shivered a little, reminded of a not-so-good salmon patty experience elsewhere only a week before, but that’s another story. Bravely, I pimped my budget by fifty cents and ordered it.

The “salmon burger” arrived with layers of flavour and texture – pickled cucumber for crunch, accompanied by a side of chips with the crunch of twice-cooked, thrice-cooked …. Who cares when you just want to eat every single one of them?

Full marks for the construction of the burger, and the texture of the salmon patty. The fact that I could cut this burger in half with ease, with a butter knife, was a feat of culinary engineering to be celebrated – at least by me.

Salmon, with tomato sauce? I say No. Or in burger-speak, Hell No. I would suggest that the folks at Bluwater ‘pimp their plate’ and replace it completely, or offer the option to upgrade ($) to a choice of fresh, homemade salsa, or unctuous sauce. A chunky, citrus-based, fresh mint salsa, or a thick garlicy baba ganoush, or Middle Eastern-inpsired sauce would lift this burger to ‘a whole ‘nuther level,’ if you like.

A ‘high five’ from me to the burger bun maker, or supplier. All Sydney’s bars-&-grills seem to be reading from the same (recipe) book, but this is best bun I’ve eaten. This is kudos indeed, as Bluwater Grill isn’t trying to be American-themed, or stuck in what I call a ‘burger rut’.

Instead, Bluwater consider their menu ‘a fusion of European and modern Australian cuisines’ and they aim to appeal to a ‘wide range of clientele’.  I would call their menu a mix of Mediterranean and Asian options aiming to offer something for everyone: business types with swag, mums with strollers, pensioners in floppy sun hats, and everyone in between.

‘Something for everyone’ are usually dangerous words because it’s difficult to offer consistency, and it can fall over, but looking around other tables, they seem to be doing it successfully, and with a smile.

If you are in the area, and looking for a café that you could invite your friends, workmates, siblings, elderly family, or mothers’ group to, that offers a happy, lunchtime buzz, without needing to shout over the noise, Bluwater ticks the boxes.

Thursday is market day in Hornsby mall, and it’s dotted with lots of stalls selling fresh vegetables, soda bread, fresh made ravioli, loaves of sourdough, and seafood, so take your recycled shopping bag with you.

RATED: Keeping it real  FOOD: 4/5
VALUE: 4/5 ATMOS: 3/5 VIBE: diverse – from Pensioners to Prada
Bluwater Grill– Cnr Hunter & Florence Sts, Hornsby

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