Welcome to Norfolk Island, a small island that lies some 1700 kilometres or so off the east coast of mainland Australia, almost midway between New Caledonia and New Zealand. I’ve just spent a week here… Get ready for an interesting island food ride…and some fun foodie facts.
My BFF and travel tag-along (“Lets go here!”… “OK”), Ciaran, was on for the ride and as a bit of a foodie as well, he was up for all of my food elections on Norfolk Island.
Bread is baked daily on the island and costs around AU$5 a loaf. When the local baker imported flour recently, it cost AU$5000 just for the pallet to be delivered – the flour was an additional cost.
Fresh milk is AU$14.80 for 2 litres – Yes, AU$14.80! Long life milk can be bought for around $3. There are a lot of cows on the island but as previously mentioned, these are beef cows…
A lot of the imported foods are brands from New Zealand. With New Zealand being closer it is a lot more cost effective. (Okay, I snuck the Vegemite into the pic, Marmite just isn’t the same, sorry to my Kiwi friends).
Vegetables only grow in season are are often not only shared, but often sold between locals. Placed out the front of the locals house, there is an honour system when purchasing their fresh produce.
Wine at most restaurants or clubs are between AU$28 and AU$34 a bottle. To buy a bottle from the bottle shop starts AU$16. A carton of beer is around AU$95 (at the time of visiting) and they often run out. The bottle shop is open until 1730 on weeknights, until midday on Saturday and closed on Sunday – I do my research…
I also researched where to eat for lunch and dinner. Breakfasts were usually self catered, lunches were generally takeaway to have while driving/touring around the island. Being pub/club type of guys, we tried all three clubs and fancy pants restaurant.
So where, what and what did we think of where we ate?
As mentioned, for breakfast, we usually self catered but we did have a delightful hot breakfast on one occasion at the motel we were staying at. There were choices of a continental breakfast, waffles with poached berries & maple syrup, ham and cheese croissants or a hot cooked breakfast on toast.
A homestyle cooked breakfast is something always welcomed when travelling. While one may think it’s just bacon and eggs, it can be easy to stuff up or overcook and this was perfectly done and a great start to our touring day.
There’s no fast food chains, no Subway but there is a Juddway! I found this place to be wonderful with their takeaway (or eat in) rolls. In fact, so great we went back there twice! Juddway doesn’t have a large scale menu but what it does have is really fresh and exciting rolls made in front of you. You can design your own or go for other interesting rolls like ‘Spicy Italian meatballs’, ‘Roast of the day with gravy and coleslaw’ or the fun named ‘Cluck and squeal – chicken tenders with bacon, cheese and sauce’.
We tried both the pork with crackling and chicken, brie and porpay rolls. What is porpay you ask? Porpay is the Norfolk Islanders name for guava jam. Yum. Both rolls were delicious, I was especially a fan of the pork with little bits of crunchy crackling inside.
The prawn and crab roll was equally delicious. OK, so it wasn’t real crab under those plumpish prawns, it was surima or seafood extender, but it was devoured and delicious nonetheless .
Another of one of our lunch options was take away from the local supermarket where there were different options everyday. The salads, sandwiches, rolls and wraps were depended on what was available for preparation each morning.
All options were very fresh, tasty and budget friendly and perfect for a picnic lunch while touring.
Norfolk Island Bowing Club – Dinner
An easy stroll from our hotel, the Bowling Club was hosting a bowls tournament between Norfolk Island and New Zealand on the day we visited. Norfolk Island won!
The fish of the day was Kingfish and it was delightful, simply done but, done well, fresh and flavourful.
A slight disappointment came over me when I realised it was deep fried frozen seafood but it was ok.
Norfolk Island RSL Club – Dinner
The venue has an old school feel with an open plan setup. The club got very busy but service wasn’t slow, polite yet concise.
The large prawns bathed in a rich creamy sauce was delicious and the crispy prawn crackers were the perfect accompaniment with which to scoop up the gorgeous garlicky creamy sauce.
The pork belly was enjoyable. The skin crispy, just what you want from such a dish, and the fatty parts, gelatinous. The red wine jus was the real star however. Saucy perfection.
Norfolk Island Leagues Club – Dinner
Located on the other side of town near the airport, this was another enjoyable meal that was also very popular with others. I had been informed by a local this was one of their favourites as the chef was really good.
More beef from this cow filled island. While not an authentic way I thought, to cook a Madras curry (although neither is it with beef… – thats a Western thing), it was quite tasty nonetheless.
Finally, I tried the local fish Trumpeter – also known as Sweetlips. Simply cooked, it was packed with flavour and I can see why the locals and visitors alike, love it. Firm yet juicy, not overly a ‘fishy’, it doesn’t really need anything other than a simple grilling.
Bailey’s Restaurant at the Governors Lodge Resort Hotel – Dinner
One night we opted to have dinner at one of the restaurants the locals recommended, but upon checking availability, we found that Bailey’s was the only one available, but again this didn’t disappoint us overall.
One of the entrees we shared was the beef Carpaccio (AU$13). It was quite nice but I’m not one who is a fan of beef.
The second entree was the seared scallops. Yum. Plump and perfectly cooked. There was just enough flavour from the miso dressing to not overpower the scallops but oomph it up just slightly while leaving the scallop moist and with it’s subtle natural flavours.
The salmon was cooked to perfection. the thinly sliced amount of potato went well with the salmon salmon and the olive tapenade’s saltiness lifted the whole flavour profile
The beef… well, unfortunately, after asking for medium-well done for the steak, there was still too much blood for my liking. I’m not much of a beef eater anyway so I scraped all the fish off the previous dish. The salsa verde however was a delightful sauce accompaniment.
Overall, for a small island of only 1800 people, the food was surprisingly good and reasonably priced. Norfolk Island relies on tourism as its main export and like most tourism regions, was hit hard during lockdowns. It is bouncing back so if you get the chance head to this fascinating island.
Matty made his own way (by aeroplane, using points) to Norfolk Island and stayed at his own expense.