Perched on the Southern end of Freshwater Beach, Pilu at Freshwater is a 30 minute drive from Sydney’s CBD. There is often congestion on Military Road so allow more time if travelling during peak hour times. If using a GPS to arrive at the restaurant you may need to enter the suburb as Harbord. PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
The unassuming facade of Pilu gives diners little idea of what to expect behind the walls of this restored heritage-listed weatherboard beach house. Vibrant paintings of yachts on Sydney Harbour adorn the pristine white walls while, above, the high ceilings reveal exposed original white timber beams. At the centre of the restaurant is the semi-open kitchen and bar while the stunning balcony offers 270 degree views of the beach below. Glass cabinets full of aged grappa and wine line the restaurant, and efficient staff strut around in blue-and-white striped shirts, overflowing with knowledge about everything from the cooking process of their home-made sourdough to the specifics of a merlot on the 42-page wine list. Pilu at Freshwater is a classic mix of old and new – from the ages of the waitstaff to the restaurant’s sleek, yet classic design.
The menu speaks to the inner Italian in us all with classics such as pecorino, mint and burnt butter ravioli and osso bucco. But it also celebrates the best of our Australian produce from the Sydney rock oysters to the Crystal bay prawns. An entree of lightly battered zucchini flowers and Claire de Lune oysters, with fried squid and Crystal Bay prawns is the perfect teaser – with just the right amount of crunch and saltiness to get the taste buds in action. The secondi feature King salmon, served in a ‘crazy’ water with baby golden beets, purple carrots and watercress. It is simple, yet elegant.
The meal has now ended and yet I don’t want to move. Savouring the last flavours of the ‘crazy’ water in my mouth, I put my knife and fork gently down and sit very still, gazing out over the beach below. Dark now, the water sparkles as it reflects the lights from the surrounding houses. A night at Pilu is like escaping life for a few short hours. It is a fine-dining restaurant, minus the pretension. It is warm and relaxed. Reluctantly, I ask for the bill, turn my phone back on and prepare myself to come back to reality.