One thing John Tully and Luke Heard (Acre Artarmon and Camperdown, The Greens, The Fernery, Taffy’s) have a knack for is opening casual, contemporary venues with beautifully designed indoor-outdoor dining spaces and menus that celebrate local produce – often much of it grown on-site.
Their latest project is no different, except this one is located in Nowra, two-and-a-half hours south of Sydney, in the Shoalhaven region.
“We felt Nowra lacked a contemporary [dining] offering, and we saw there was an opportunity for the immediate area to have something that also made use of local produce,” Tully tells Broadsheet.
The Growers is a 450-seat eatery and bar that overlooks the greens of the Worrigee golf course. Designed by Pony Design Co (The Fernery, Taffy’s, Alala’s, Acre), the interior is inviting and warm, combining natural timber, greenery, textured stones and eclectic furniture to bring a hint of the South Coast inland. The expansive outdoor space features seating under planted pergolas, a firepit for cooler days and kids’ play areas.
Surrounding the venue are pockets of herb and vegetable gardens growing chillies, tomatoes and finger limes. There are plans to introduce citrus orchards to the grounds, too.
It’s the access to such fresh produce that has American-born head chef Patrick Haney (Opera Bar and Cruise Bar) excited. He’s drawn on local producers such as Eden Smokehouse, Milton Beef and Mountain Side Meats, as well as the on-site gardens, for menu ideas. “It’s really local, fresh and modern,” he says.
Dishes include a vibrant tricolour beetroot gnocchi mixed through with locally made gouda; tender roast chicken served with polenta and asparagus; and a selection of classic woodfired pizzas.
There’s also freshly shucked oysters from Jim Wild’s oyster farm –15 minutes down the road – dressed with a hay-smoked apple and cucumber mignonette, and woodfired Shoalhaven Camembert drizzled with honey and served with sourdough.
A kiosk kitted out for serious barbequing and smoking gives Haney a chance to put his American background to good use. It will open on weekends and offer a limited menu, with dishes such as slow-cooked pulled pork empanadas.
The local ethos extends to the drinks menu, which highlights regional brewers such as Jervis Bay Brewing Co and Canberra’s Bentspoke, and showcases a bunch of nearby wineries, including Cupitt’s in Ulladulla, Berry’s Silos Estate, and Coolangatta Estate in Shoalhaven Heads.
131 Greenwell Point Road, Worrigee
Sun, Wed & Thu 11am–9pm
Fri & Sat 11am–11pm