Dine on everything from homegrown produce to fresh-from-the-sea fare, locally churned cheese and more on Norfolk Island.
Slow food is more than a movement on Norfolk Island, it’s a way of life – and visitors reap the benefits. With ninety-nine percent of fresh food grown in the island’s rich volcanic soil, a bounty of fresh seafood waiting just offshore and a long list of locally-made meats, cheese, coffee and honey, every meal is a simple but delicious occasion.
Locals have well and truly made the most of what they’ve been given, starting with the bananas; green bananas are fried into crispy fritters or cooked in milk to create ‘mudda’ (dumplings), while overripe bananas are mashed and baked to create pihli or used in a pudding. Nothing is wasted.
There are over 30 restaurants, cafes and takeaway shops to choose from – no small feat for an island roughly eight kilometres long and five kilometres wide. Come November, the island explodes into a celebration of all things food with the annual Taste Norfolk Island Food Festival which also incorporates Thanksgiving Day – a legacy left by American whalers during the 1960s. Here, find a foodie hit list for those with a hearty appetite.
The smell of bacon cooking on the grill and freshly-brewed Campos Coffee lures just about everyone in town to The Olive Café come dawn.
The café is open seven days a week from 6.30am to 3pm for breakfast, brunch, lunch, morning and afternoon tea. The menu is cheap, cheerful and written on a blackboard.
Find hearty staples such breakfast burgers, French toast and fluffy pancakes early in the day, and their signature burgers, salads and sandwiches come lunch. Freshly-baked cakes and pastries are also available.
You don’t need to be a guest at the Paradise Hotel to dine at the Garden Restaurant and Bar on its premises. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail and watch the sunset from the garden rotundas, or opt for a slightly more indulgent experience with a romantic candlelit dinner overlooking the hotel gardens.
The sixty-seater restaurant serves breakfast, all-day coffee and tea-making facilities. The dinner menu features lamb shanks, fish and curries alongside salads and a variety of sides. Visit on Sunday to enjoy live music on the deck between 1 to 4 pm, with bar service and a nibbles menu available.
Australia is world-renowned for the quality of its seafood, and there’s no better place to enjoy it on Norfolk than the humble Fish and Chook shop. Expect good old-fashioned fish and chip fare – just as tasty as you remember it from your youth – enjoyed inside or alfresco, as well as rotisserie chickens, wraps, burgers and much more.
It’s the wood-fuelled Argentinian Perilla grill at the Homestead Restaurant that elevates the dining experience. Cooking over embers intensifies the flavours of the island’s seasonal produce, meat and seafood – and it’s all thanks to the owner’s dad, who engineered it for Kurt and Jill Menghetti.
The pair opened the doors to the contemporary boutique restaurant housed inside a 1930’s island home in October 2019. They have been pairing simple ingredients with the elemental technique of cooking over embers – with mouth-watering results – ever since. Alongside an extensive a-la-carte menu, The Homestead also bakes Norfolk’s only true wood-fired naturally fermented sourdough. It has its own cult following, and remains a staple on the menu.
In the unique Norfolk language, ‘hilli’ can be translated to a drowsy, lazy feeling. A feeling that comes when you’ve eaten your fill of delicious food followed by a dulcet food coma. And that is exactly the kind of satisfaction you can expect from a meal at the Hilli Restaurant and Café.
Order a serve of scones with jam and cream alongside a steaming hot cup of Devonshire tea to be enjoyed overlooking the gardens. Return for dinner to indulge on that famous Norfolk Island seafood. Don’t miss the salt and pepper calamari or the seafood crepe; featuring succulent prawns, calamari and local trumpeter that is bound in a seasoned Mornay sauce then rolled into a delicate French crepe.
The most recent addition to the island dining scene is the Bounty Bar and Grill. The contemporary menu champions local meats and produce with a range of share platters to choose from. A surprising standout is the surf and turf: a juicy steak cooked to your liking served alongside crispy prawns.
The Two Chimneys Winery is the place to get a premium drop on the island. Established by Noelene McAlpine and her husband Rod, find eight grape varieties surrounding the picturesque homestead. The family recently took out the Norfolk Island champion tourism award for their selection of young wines and exquisite local food platters. The secret to the success of the accompanying platters comes down to Noelene’s creativity in the kitchen; her homemade cheese ball goes nicely with local marinated mushrooms, orange and paw paw. A glass of 2010 Semillon rounds out the experience.
If the above list has already invoked a passion for Norfolk Island produce then Baunti Tours have just the ticket to help you take it to the next level. They offer progressive dinners at private island homes, traditional island food and farm tours for hungry tourists.
The Baunti people have strong links with the Bounty mutineers and their Polynesian partners. Their tours elevate your knowledge of the island’s creation and how its inhabitants have transitioned to contemporary life – all with a plenty of eating along the way, of course.
Speaking of food experiences, we couldn’t finish an article about Norfolk Island food without recommending a pit-stop at Mootineer Cheeses. Baunti Tours offer an excellent tour that introduces you to the feta, haloumi, creamy blues, camemberts and cheddars produced on the island by John Christian. Explore this boutique cheesery, meet the small herd of organic cows and try the milking machine. Bliss.