Oysters and cocktails on the water at Soldiers Point
One of Port Stephens’ prime pieces of dining real estate is once again home to a restaurant – introducing Restaurant 2317.
Named after the Soldiers Point postcode, Restaurant 2317 sits pretty at Soldiers Point Marina, overlooking the water from its second-storey vantage point.
It’s a welcome breath of fresh air in the waterfront venue, formerly home to The Point Restaurant, which closed in May this year. In fact, when Dean Purtle, Johanna Wilson, Mick Humphreys, and Louise Humphreys took over the lease in August, it was a literal breath of fresh air – the space had been closed up for three months.
Now, after giving the interior a facelift and crafting a menu full of interesting takes on local seafood, Restaurant 2317 is officially open.
When we first walked into the space, we instantly admired the deep navy paintwork, brass finishes, and beautiful timber island bench. Mick and Johanna were the driving forces behind the renovations, with help from Tim Nolan at Bay & Co, interior designer Tracey Cameron, and Castlepeake Architects.
“Everything’s been painted. There was a lot of building work that covered the pass, so we opened the kitchen right up. We built a big island bench, we put some details on different things. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was a lot of work,” Mick said.
With four hospitality veterans (and friends of 15 years) at the helm of Restaurant 2317, there’s plenty of experience behind this new venture.
The menu doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s plenty of takes on classic dishes, like a version of oysters Kilpatrick with bacon jam; calamari with fennel, a pineapple salad, and chermoula, a herby North African sauce; and lemon posset with blackberry compote and lavender shortbread.
There’s a healthy sprinkling of Asian flavours across the menu – house-made bread rolls are served with miso butter, and the chicken breast comes with nahm jim, a Thai dipping sauce. But Dean says letting the produce and seafood shine is the goal.
“With a lot of our dishes, we want to make sure that say with the fish of the day, that the fish is the star of the meal. Rather than going ‘Okay we’ve got swordfish today, it comes with this, this, this, this and this’ it’s like ‘You know what, the swordfish is the star, everything else will play second fiddle.’ We want to promote that kind of mentality,” Dean said.
The reason the seafood can shine on its own at Restaurant 2317 is because the majority is sourced from right on the restaurant’s doorstep.
“When we look out here and see what we’ve got right in front of us, we really want to capture that.”
“The local fish guys, the local oyster guys – we can go and get bigger companies at cheaper prices, but we really want to support this local area. We’re big on that.”
From Holberts Oyster Supplies to Lemon Tree Passage Distilling, Pasta di Porto to Pirate Coffee, Port Stephens is heavily represented across the food and drink menus.
It means both visitors and locals can gain an appreciation for what the region has to offer when they dine at Restaurant 2317. And not only from the menu – a long weekend lunch that turns into sunset cocktails (right beside Sunset Beach, no less) is what Port Stephens is all about too.