All posts by Leigh-Anne Wrighter

Kitchen Table for Six at Lagoon Seafood Restaurant

Have you discovered that one restaurant experience that sets the bar above all others?

I most definitely have and the good news is, it’s right here in Wollongong!

Let me introduce you to The Kitchen Table for 6 at The Lagoon Seafood Restaurant.

Table for Six Group

As the locals will tell you, The Lagoon is a bit of an institution in the Illawarra. Diners have travelled far and wide just for the Lagoon experience. I would go so far as to say you haven’t fully experienced Wollongong without a visit.

Having been in business for 30 years, Lagoon knows how to keep things fresh and the Kitchen Table for 6 is certainly no exception.

With a mouth watering 7 course degustation menu with matching wines, complete with a backstage pass to Australia’s favourite restaurant, this is no ordinary experience.

Table for Six 1

Here’s what went down

It all starts when you and 5 of your buddies are seated in the lounge bar. While you are relaxing with glasses of bubbles and fresh oysters, you will be introduced to Executive Chef Emmanuel Efstathiadis and his talented team from the kitchen. Yep that’s right, feeling pretty special now.

From here you move front row and centre to the kitchen pass. This is where the VIP feeling really kicks in. Watch, listen and smell as each yummy dish is prepared and plated before you.

Table for Six 6

Executive Chef Emmanuel and his staff are a super friendly bunch who are only too happy to share their tips and tricks together with a secret or two. I learnt the best way to cook a crab and the art of preparing the perfect scallops…yum yum yum!

Table for Six 3

We even had a visit from local seafood guru Mr Kordakis. Not only was he up for a good laugh but he shared his knowledge on how to pick the best produce and what to look for.  Those trips to the fish market won’t be so scary anymore.

Table for Six 8

The evening comes to a perfect end when you are seated at a table and served a Dessert Tasting Plate accompanied by a glass of Bird or Fire Semillion Botrytis. Absolutely heavenly.

So here’s my advice:

Recruit five of your best buddies, and get ready for a backstage pass to foodie heaven—super yummy food and a fascinating experience.

The Lagoon Kitchen Table for 6 is available Monday to Thursday at $220 per person.

To book call 02 4226 1677.

Visit or follow Lagoon on Facebook

Click here to register to receive Lagoon’s newsletter.

What’s On in Wollongong was a guest of The Lagoon Seafood Restaurant.

Example Menu*

Roasted Occy w horseradish, mayo and pickled fennel
Sydney rock oyster, dill crème fraiche, trout toe
Bruschetta Soup
Accompanied by: Geisweiler Blanc De Blanc

Abalone & scallop w Squid ink puree & chorizo
Accompanied by: Garfish Pinot Gris

Scampi w Ouzo butter
Berkshire Pork w Apple Port Jus
Accompanied by: 2002 Concerto Cabernet Sav

Native Pepper Berry crusted Wagyu
Accompanied by: Forster Shiraz

Dessert Tasting Plate
Accompanied by: Bird or Fire Semillion Botrytis

*Menu is subject to change




Lagoon Experimental Kitchen

There are not too many restaurants that can boast the scenery and water views that our very own Lagoon Seafood Restaurant grants us on arrival.

There is an immediate sense that you are somewhere special. Bringing together a feeling of elegance, calm and tranquillity is certainly no easy feat but somehow they manage to pull it off time and time again.

Having dined at the Lagoon in the past, I was eagerly awaiting my opportunity to experience the unique Lagoon Experimental Kitchen, a foodie’s heaven filled with degustation delights!

What is degustation I hear you ask?

Degustation is a French culinary term which refers to the sampling of an array of small dishes served one after the other. I mean really why decide on just one dish when you can have it all.

I have since had the great fortune to attend not one but two Experimental Kitchens at Lagoon and let me just say, the anticipation was worth it.

Picture this….

Your evening begins with drinks out on the deck overlooking the picturesque Fairy Lagoon. Here you are able to let out a breath and leave any stresses of the week behind you. Now you are ready to enter the opulent surrounds of the dining room where you will awaken your senses to the delights and wonders of what only a highly qualified and knowledgeable chef could create.

Do you get the picture? This could be the most memorable dining experience of your life.

Now if I had to choose between the McGuigan Wine Dinner and Degustation through the Decades, I honestly wouldn’t know which way to point you.

On one hand you have a 5 course degustation coupled with handpicked wines by the king of wines himself, Neil McGuigan. On the other you have a gastronomic journey from the 1920’s right through to 2010.

They both took me on an exquisite culinary adventure that I would only too happily repeat. The Lagoon chefs no doubt take meticulous care in selecting and creating a dining phenomenon and this is what you will receive.

My favourite dishes? Definitely the Gourmet Chicko Roll (yes that’s right, you will never eat a normal one again!) matched with a 2013 Stonefish Sav Blanc and the Iced Vovo Cupcake matched with a Wicked Secrets Pink Moscato.

The good news for you is that The Lagoon Experimental Kitchen will continue throughout 2016. This Illawarra icon will also be turning 30 in 2016 so expect big things.

Upcoming Lagoon Experimental Kitchens:

When: Friday 4th March  7pm (Around the World)

When: Friday 3rd June 7pm (From Farm to Fork)

Enjoy a degustation menu with matching wines. A menu prepared in culinary heaven. Experience cuisine using ALL 6 senses, including IMAGINATION!

$130 for 11 course degustation menu, or $150 with matching wines.

Bookings are essential. This would also make a wonderful Christmas gift. Vouchers are available.

Visit or call (02) 4226 1677.

The Messy Playgroup

Time to have some fun with some messy play!


I think most parents would agree that the words ‘kids’ and ‘messy’  go hand in hand.

As a child there is nothing better than free range play, exploring and getting your hands dirty with no such thing as time frames and procedure.

The Messy Playgroup in Thirroul provides this environment in a super kid friendly facility twice a week. Combine that with several craft activities based on a different theme each week and you have a winner!

On our first visit to The Messy Playgroup the theme was the much loved children’s book Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. It was a magical combination of wonder and delight created with great thought and care.

We were warmly greeted by owner Nancy, who much to my delight immediately engaged my two daughters in conversation, showing them what was on offer and making them feel right at home.

This was a relief for a mother of two girls who can sometimes take a while to warm up to a new environment. They were immediately comfortable with Nancy as they followed her to the craft table to make their very own baubles to hang on the Christmas tree.  All this without hanging off my leg as if they were safety poles.

Filling the baubles with glitter and paint and then shake shake shake…the girls were completely mesmerised.  It all seemed too easy and something I made a note of to do at home. I mean why didn’t I think of this earlier?

From bauble making to ‘green, green, grass‘ (in adult terms this means green spaghetti!), the girls gleefully ran their fingers up and down through the grass, pulling long pieces out. We discussed how funny it would be if our grass was like this and asked ‘how would daddy mow the lawn’?

The sensory rich play experience continued with some mud (i.e. jelly) and snow (i.e. shaving foam) where we could dig our fingers in deep to find if anything was hiding beneath. I mean really, it wouldn’t be a decent bear hunt without mud and snow!

We finished our bear hunt off with some torch play in the soft play area where we continued our search for that naughty bear. We didn’t find him!  They have a pretty amazing set up at Messy Play Thirroul, including a ball pit, soft play area, giant chalk board and even a toy kitchen for imaginative play.

Best of all the play is all ‘free style’.  There is no ‘you have five minutes here, five minutes there’ It is absolutely whatever interests your little one in that very moment.  Oh to live in the moment – what a wonderful feeling.

The kids are relaxed and therefore the parents are relaxed.  I took home two very happy children together with our new handmade baubles and hung them with pride on our Christmas tree for all to see.

The baubles have since been carefully put away for many Christmases to come.

Owner Nancy mentioned to me that The Messy Playgroup was her “labor of love” and this definitely resonates with the preparation, care and dedication she gives to making sure both the children and parents thoroughly enjoy their time at The Messy Playgroup.

Oh and did I mention the best part…you don’t have to clean up and the kids come home clean thanks to the art smocks provided.

The Messy Playgroup is a weekly parent participation class, providing sensory and creative art sessions for children 5 and under, with the objective of developing children’s social, cognitive and fine motor skills.

Children are encouraged to explore and get creative with a variety of messy materials during a 45 minute class.

Classes run on Monday and Thursday mornings from Thirroul or Monday and Friday mornings at Forestville. Each creative session includes an exciting new theme around which the messy play activities are based.

The Messy Playgroup
Phone: 0428 267 198

Follow Messy Playgroup on Facebook


The Hungry Wolf – Crown Street, Wollongong

When you walk into the Hungry Wolf, little brother to Wollongong’s whiskey bar Howlin Wolf, you feel like you’ve discovered the ultimate gem. It is where you would want to go to spend time with good friends.

Maybe it’s the ultra cool and friendly bar staff who ooze knowledge on all things liquid or it’s the chilled out atmosphere that invites good vibe conversation but the one thing that pulls it all together is the food! It will keep you coming back again and again. I mean if I ever go missing – this is where i’ll be.

Serving up a mix of American-style eats and Asian fare, once I set eyes on the the beef brisket and Korean fried chicken, the Howlin Wolf had won me over. Let’s just say my taste buds were having a party and they didn’t want to leave.

I had the chance to ask Chefs Johnny and Angus a couple of questions about themselves and the style of food they bring to the Hungry Wolf.


Tell us a bit about yourself, where you have come from, where you have worked previously, how you come to be at Hungry Wolf.

Johnny: My name is Johnny, I moved to Sydney to do my apprenticeship and when I got qualified I felt like moving back to Wollongong and applying what I learned at places like Fratelli’s Fresh and White Horse in Surrey Hills. I helped to start up a venue in town called The Three Chimneys and recently moved to a bar called Pepe’s at North Beach. That brings me to where I am now.

Angus: I’ve been cooking for a few years now, anyone that knows me can attest to my love for food. I was lucky enough to have a great head chef and role model in Joshua Marks for the duration of my apprenticeship at La Cucina. I learned a lot of my good habits in the kitchen from the time I spent there. I also worked at the Chifley Hotel and The Three Chimneys, which is where I met Johnny.

What was the inspiration behind the Hungry Wolf menu?

Angus: The menu that we’ve written is all about bold flavours that come from Texas style BBQ mixed up with flavour combinations, ingredients and techniques that have come from our combined experiences as chefs and our own food passions.

Johnny: Fast, with a focus on quality and freshness.

How would you describe your style of cooking?

Johnny: Versatile, I’ve worked in a variety of venues which had different demands on me as a chef, which has given me a broad range of experience.

Angus: I like to emphasize the flavours of the ingredients that I’m working with. I have quite a heavy Italian and French influence in my cooking.

Do you have a signature dish?

Angus: For me the ramen is something that I love. It’s hearty and comforting and is perfect for lunch or dinner during winter. I remember during the time I spent in South Korea my host mother would cook us ramen with an egg poached in the broth.

Johnny: Fried Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella (An American play on a caprese salad).

What is your favourite ingredient?

Johnny: Mushrooms

Angus: I have to agree with Johnny here, mushrooms are fantastic, they are so versatile and full of flavor. On top of their versatility they also have such a wide range of flavours and varieties. You can just do so much with them.

What ingredient can you not live without in the Hungry Wolf kitchen?

Johnny: Vinegars, from mayos and dressings to pickling.

Angus: Herbs. We use a variety of herbs in every dish that we cook. They provide so much flavour and help to emphasize the natural flavours of other ingredients.

What would be your last request dish?

Angus: It’s funny, this question seems like it’d be an obvious or easy choice but for me, but having to choose one meal out of so many possibilities is not easy. I don’t even want to face the prospect of having to choose a last meal. To be honest at the moment I’d probably choose a traditional shoyu ramen with hand made noodles but if you ask me in a few months I will have changed my mind, and I’ll be passionate about something else.

Johnny: Beef Stroganoff

What do you love about the bar/café scene in Wollongong?

Johnny: Watching it grow over the last couple of years and the sense of community between the venues.

Angus: I think that the Café/Bar scene in Wollongong has so much potential and since I started working here I have found that the scene has consistently grown and flourished.

What is your idea of happiness?

Johnny: Sunday arvos, Beers, Mates and occasional Waves.

Angus: Spending time with my friends, my girlfriend and my family. Preferably while having a good meal.

How do your meals compliment what’s on offer from Hungry Wolf’s big brother Howlin’ Wolf?

Johnny: The American style food we do complements the aesthetic and the back shelf of the bar.

Angus: The general theme of the food that we do, especially at dinner complements the bars fantastic selection of whiskeys.

The Hungry Wolf

53-61 Crown Street

Wollongong NSW 2500

Telephone: 0417 265 272

Open for lunch 11am-3pm Monday to Saturday, dinner from 5pm-9pm Wednesday to Sunday.

Visit Hungry Wolf on Facebook.