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HomeFoodFood Review: St Alma Freshwater

Food Review: St Alma Freshwater

When swanky new restaurant St Alma finally opened in Freshwater, there were rumours floating around town that you had to book at least six weeks in advance to secure a table.

I passed it off as clever PR yet it wasn’t until a few friends had vented their frustrations in trying to book a table, that my ears pricked up. What would make a restaurant so special that punters would be willing to wait almost two months to get a table?

I needed to get to the bottom of what made this establishment so darn exclusive, after all the Northern Beaches is teeming with fancy eateries, but not one can claim a six-week waiting list.

Homemade coconut churros, death by deliciousness

So I got myself a booking and took my partner in crime to scour the surroundings and investigate the mystery behind this restaurant’s popularity.

When we arrived, every table was taken yet we were swiftly attended to by a bright and cheery waiter who offered us homemade guac and tortilla chips and a couple of margaritas. St Alma has over six different margaritas on the menu and a plethora of tequilas on offer. Tick.

As we tucked into the creamiest guac and the super crunchy and addictive tortillas, we perused the menu and decided to opt for the “trust the chef” option which for a modest $69 which includes a six-course tasting menu.

St Alma has six different margaritas on their menu including a jalapeno one

After placing the order, we began checking out the surroundings. St Alma has very much a city click vibe and a certain edge to it, that you mostly have to travel over the Spit Bridge for.

The interiors are clean, minimalist, the service fast and slick but with just the right of friendliness and the atmosphere bang on perfect. Another tick.

Soon, but not too soon, our next course arrived which was a melt-in-the-mouth cerviche followed by crispy empanadas, chicken tacos and the piece de resistance, slow-cooked pork belly.

Without exaggeration, the food was a feast for the senses, perfectly spiced, seasoned and cooked. Double ticks.

So who are the masterminds behind this venture?

The famous empanadas, not to be missed

Its success is down to owners Jack Leary and Executive Chef Tim Christensen, two Northern Beaches locals who set up Alma in Avalon in 2017, now a thriving Mexican restaurant with an infectious beach vibe and loyal customer base.

“We knew we’d found the perfect backdrop for creating something different – our own take on Mexican cuisine inspired by our travels to Mexico, while also capturing the spirit of a Northern Beaches village,” explained Leary.

“What people don’t know is we signed a lease in Freshwater back in 2017 before opening Avalon, but unfortunately it fell through. Ever since Freshwater has been on our wish list for a restaurant venue – you can’t beat the location for its beach vibe and sense of community.”

A few years ago, Leary and Christensen went on a fact-finding expedition and taste-tested menus from around 30 eateries on the east coast and southwest of Mexico. Christensen values this experience for being able to fuse magical Mexican flavours reminiscent of traditional street fare with the freshest locally sourced ingredients in creating his menu at Freshwater.

From this trip, the pair forged friendships with several restaurants and venues within Mexico such as Colibri Boutique Hotels and ACRA in Tulum. Collaborating with several talented chefs has helped them to shape the dining experience they offer in Australia, many of whom still work at the Avalon venue today.

Christensen together with Head Chef, Ricardo Lemus says there’s great emphasis on ‘sharing’ plates.

“We wanted to encourage sharing, which is always fun among groups,” said Christensen.  “There will be lots of flavour combinations on offer – the menu’s been designed with a number of dishes ideal for sharing. That way we hope diners can sample even more of our interpretation of modern Mexican food.”

Indeed, they have done well to create an upmarket Mexican experience, one worthy of a six-week wait.

Transparency check: This is a genuine food review; meals and reviewable beverages were provided free for the purposes of review, and we attended by invitation so it was not anonymous. 

St Alma, 20 Albert St, Freshwater.

Email: enquiries@st-alma.com.au

Phone: 0405 901 794

 

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