Forget sandy sandwiches. Next time you visit Balmoral Beach, splash out on exquisite Italian fare at Beach House by GPO. Just like the parking, this seaside cafe fills up pretty quickly, but if you don't score a table, the takeaway fish and chips are a shore thing.
Formerly Awaba Cafe, this spot was snapped up by Peter Petroulas, adding to his GPO collection, which includes Prime and Intermezzo. Retaining its nonplussed charm, the contemporary interior features an open shopfront, making the most of sea breezes and waterfront views. Patrons are welcomed in with sandy towels and dripping hair and offered a comfortable spot to enjoy a civilised lunch and a glass of prosecco.
The breakfast menu, which consists of fairly standard items, is executed with flair and finesse, and doesn't stint on size either. The Eggs Atlantic ($17) arrives photo-ready, with liberal layers of smoked salmon and two perfectly jelly eggs, cloaked in a lemony hollandaise. The buttermilk hotcakes ($15.50) are golden and fluffy, a neat stack of three, drizzled in maple syrup and served with mixed berry compote. The coffee is particularly good; the milk as light and frothy as whipped cream with just a hint of cinnamon, made from GPO's signature blend of organic, fair-trade Arabica beans.
For lunch and dinner, the menu takes on an Italian influence. You can head straight into the deep end, with a hearty slow-cooked ragu ($26.50) or veal involtini ($26.50) or drift over to the more casual side of the menu for paninis and burgers. Drinks range from Veuve Clicquot ($98 per bottle) to cowboy shots ($8.50) and everything in between.
If there are no spare tables, never fear, Beach House by GPO offers a takeaway menu.They will happily pack you an antipasto picnic ($16.50) filled with cured meats, cheeses and other Mediterranean goodies, or you can choose from a seafood counter ($16.50) stocked fresh with oysters and prawns for enjoying beachside or on the jetty.