A Weekend at Caves Beach, Charlestown and Redhead - near Newcastle NSW

It's a pretty area up here - expansive white beaches, blue skies and warm weather like most places at least in Summer. We went up to spend a night in the area for a short break. It's close to Sydney so it didn't take long to drive there - it was only about 90 minutes. We decided to take a quick look at the very popular and well known Caves Beach - a place that neither of us had been to before. Wow - so pretty. We took a walk along the beach and admired it all!

Caves Beachside Hotel
7 Mawson Close, Caves Beach (south of Newcastle)

Of course it doesn't take long in the sea air to work up a bit of an appetite. Fortunately Caves Beachside Hotel was close by so we dropped in and had a cool drink and a late lunch. We wanted to be conservative - we already had early dinner plans. Mlady's love for fish and chips won out and we ordered that to share. Just as well - it was a really big dish with three decent sized pieces of fish - with crisp batter revealing nice fish inside.

The location of Caves Beach Hotel obviously doesn't hurt its popularity.

Vistana Malaysia Restaurant
115 Pacific Highway, Charlestown (south of Newcastle)

Dinner time arrived quickly and we headed off to try the highly regarded Malaysian food of Vistana. They do a roaring trade with take away but they also have a decent sized area to dine in - which we did.

We started with some flaky and tasty roti cannai with curry dipping sauce while we chose the rest of our dishes.

Our first main was possibly the favourite of the night for Mlady. It was the Vistana dry curry beef - a spicy and aromatic dry curry with tender beef, onions and fresh kaffir lime leaves. The flavours were excellent - strong yet compatible. There was plenty of tender meat there too!

The gado-gado was not something we'd had in recent times, but it was a perfect balance to the hot dishes. It's a fresh and filling salad made with vegetables, tofu and peanut sauce garnished with hard boiled eggs.

Sir's favourite was probably the Nyonya Assam prawns. It was a large quantity of king prawns served in Vistana Assam (tamarind) sauce, lightly tossed with curry leaves, pineapple and a dash of coconut milk.

The prawns were great but the sauce was a killer. The roti went really well dipped in it.

A side of steamed rice was perfect to soak up the rich and fragrant curry sauce that came with the Assam prawns.

Vistana is a comfortable place that has a low key feel to it. It seems that a lot of their business is take away - but they also have a decent local following of people who dine in. You come here for the food. It's made fresh - you can see it happening as the kitchen is visible in the distance from the tables. The smell of the herbs and spices waft out and it certainly gets you anticipating the food that's about to arrive! Service was good too - attentive and helpful. The food though - is the star attraction. It's really good, fresh and very affordable.

Pegs Cafe
157 Dudley Rd, Whitebridge (south of Newcastle)

The next day saw us take a drive around the area just admiring it and taking in the views and scenery at a few more places.

Needing a mid-morning coffee we discovered there was a huge shortage of choices. We eventually found Pegs Cafe - a quirky and pretty place that would not be out of place in Surry Hills.

It was part cafe, part restaurant and part wine bar with some innovative food choices. We just grabbed two coffees and sat and relaxed. On any other day we would have grabbed a bite here - it sounded very good. It was very pleasant!

Seaview Malaysian Restaurant
121 Beach Rd Redhead (south of Newcastle)

Seaview is in a pretty spot looking out over the park opposite which then leads on to the outer stretches of Redhead beach. It's a rather unassuming place from the outside - and in fact the inside as well. They do have some lovely food though which makes a visit well worth it. While they do cater for take away orders, their main focus seems to be their restaurant. Also, as we saw, they clearly have a strong local following.

One of the daily specials that grabbed our attention (and a few did) was the duck spring rolls. The thought of rich duck meat inside crisp spring roll pastry had us both enthusiastic about it straight away.

What surprised us though was that they were packed with duck meat - literally that was all they had in them with a bit of tasty seasoning. They were an awesome start to our lunch.

Our first main was the Malaysian grill chicken - a huge serving of very lightly battered tender moist chicken with a mildly sweet sauce on top. The dish probably wasn't exactly what we expected it to be but it turned out to be very tasty nonetheless.

One of our staples at Malaysian restaurants is their char koey teow.

Its the kind of dish you can order as another main course, a meal for one or as a side dish.

It's that versatile.

The char koey teow here at Seaview was certainly as the dish should be - a hearty plate of soft noodles mixed with plenty of other goodies - veggies, tofu and of course meats and seafood if you're not going vegetarian.

Often specials of the day attract our attention at restaurants. Lots of people we know will always order the daily or blackboard specials - as they believe these dishes to be more likely to stand out than the rest. It's a theory at least!

Well another special on our visit to Seaview Malaysian was the lobster tail with ginger and shallot - and it was certainly another stand out. We couldn't believe how much tender lobster tail we got in this very reasonably priced dish.

Seaview Malaysian Restaurant looks like your typical suburban Chinese restaurant - and in fact they do have more than just Malaysian on their menu. However, their Malaysian food is certainly excellent - and make sure you look for their daily specials which are also great. Service was friendly and fast and the food arrived quickly too.

Sir and Mlady's weekend and visits to Vistana Malaysia Restaurant and Seaview Malaysian Restaurant were supported by the Malaysian Kitchen Program.

Vistana Malaysian Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Caves Beachside on Urbanspoon

Seaview Malaysian Kitchen on UrbanspoonPegs Cafe on Urbanspoon