Where Champagne, cocktails and cruisey vibes reign supreme
Palm Beach is not exactly a hop, skip and a jump away for most Sydneysiders; it’s actually quite a trek. Once you get past Avalon where the road thins out and starts to climb the cliffs, you almost wonder if you've crossed the state line.
Yet here you are, still (technically) in Sydney. But if it's a long bloody way from home, you’re going to want to at least land a good time at the end of it. Old favourites like the Boathouse and Barrenjoey House remain popular, but you don't want to look past Cranky Fins Holidae Inn, which is owned by the guys behind the Bucket List in Bondi.
The place has a 1950s surf shack vibe – all primary colours, whitewashed floors, cosy booths, hanging buoys and murals of vintage beach bunnies decorating the walls. We visit on a public holiday, so the place is heaving. But it turns out waiting at the bar with a cocktail is more highlight than hindrance. The playlist features Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and the Supremes, and with a deeply refreshing Kool Your Melon cocktail in hand – Hendricks gin, watermelon, grapefruit and lime – it's hard to feel too fussed.
A share plate of guacamole will start you off well. It’s a massive serve topped with sour cream, black bean salsa and hot sauce nestled beside purple corn chips. It’s creamy and filling, if slightly short on spice and seasoning.
From the taco list, we try the beef with pico de gallo and chimichurri and the chipotle fish with guac, cabbage and pineapple salsa. The place is jammed on our visit – it’s a public holiday, after all – and the waitress tells us they’re so busy the kitchen has temporarily stopped taking orders. When the wraps eventually arrive, they’re tepid and tough – as if they’ve just come out of a packet. The beef taco needs more chimichurri sauce, while the batter on the fish taco isn’t crisp and the pineapple salsa is nowhere to be found. As we spy the good-looking buckets of fish and chips doing the rounds, we decide we’ll try that dish next time.
The grass-fed scotch fillet, served with kipfler potatoes and mushrooms tossed in horseradish, arrives over-done but is soon replaced with a far better cooked morsel. The enoki are like little spaghetti, their texture pleasingly chewy against the tender, grass-fed meat. As with the beef taco, the kipflers beg for more chimichurri sauce, but they’re good and waxy even without the extras.
As with so many lobster rolls, the offering here could do with more of its star ingredient, but the celery gives it crunch that’s balanced nicely by the softness of a buttery brioche bun. The hot chips with ‘Cranky Fin’s signature salt’ (spoiler: it’s chicken salt) are plentiful, and feel so right in this sort of setting.
Cranky’s is a good time in the far northern beaches. They do takeaway if you’d rather eat on the beach outside, of if you need to work off those fries they rent surfboards out the front. Though really, the food isn’t the main sell here. It’s the vibe, the tunes and the drinks. In fact, let’s go back to that drinks menu. A seriously good value option nearly sneaks by us until we spot the bottle of Pommery Brut Royal on the menu for just $75. It will be hard to find it sold this cheap on wine lists anywhere else in Sydney, so we suggest taking advantage. You’ve come this far already, haven’t you? Go on, traveller – you’ve earned it.
|Venue name:||Cranky Fins Holidae Inn|
1 Beach Road
|Opening hours:||Wed-Sat noon-11pm; Sun noon-9pm|