Fine fare and oh so friendly
I LOVE a good fancy restaurant. I love getting all dressed up and forking out to chow down on some fabulous fine dining.
But not every time I go out, and certainly not when there are kids in tow.
So, I'm always on the lookout for family-friendly, reasonably priced places to dine.
The bistro at the Alstonville Plateau Bowls and Sports Club ticks all the boxes.
Smaller than many of the local clubs, Alstonville Bowlo (as it is affectionately known) is a simple, no-nonsense place, where the members welcome new visitors with open arms.
The Bistro at The Bowlo offers a selection of traditional bistro fare with a twist.
I chose a Friday night to dine and took my son, eight, and my parents (considerably older than eight!).
With a table of 20 seated just before us, we knew there would be a bit of a wait, which the staff countered with a free bowl of wedges to keep my son from whingeing.
The wait didn't seem so long, thanks to a fun game of trivia and the meat raffles, which proved to be both entertaining and fruitful.
Our meals - steak, fish and chips, salt and pepper calamari and chicken parmigiana (ranging from $12.50 to $18) - were all excellent. Nothing too fancy, just great food. The serving sizes are pretty large, so my father was happy - there is nothing he hates more than nouvelle cuisine serving sizes.
Chef John Finter - who has some pretty impressive local credentials, having run the celebrated Church at Tintenbar and several operations at Byron - says they are steering clear of the buffet style dining and offering classic dishes, featuring local produce where they can, at a reasonable price.
"The feedback we have received so far has been great and we are really excited," John says.
And while the food is undoubtedly excellent, it's the atmosphere of the place that had my whole family deciding we would certainly become regulars. The staff and members obviously love their club and welcome newcomers. It's laid-back and friendly and every age is catered for.
The bistro Alstonville Bowlo
10-14 Deegan Dr, Alstonville
Lunch: Tuesday to Saturday
Dinner: Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm.
You can't beat good old steak and chips, but the salt and pepper calamari served with crisp salad is a winner.
Relaxed, family, friendly
Best nights to go:
Friday night is fun, with trivia and meat raffles.