South Coast Bistro and Bar

Seems like someone misunderstood what it means to offer a “sensory” dining experience. Or at least which sense it is that you want diners to focus on. (Clue: It should be taste, not hearing; even if you’re Heston Blumenthal.)

An otherwise passable meal at this semi al-fresco, Aussie spot is utterly ruined by the blaring, goddawful music—on our most recent visit, the Armageddon soundtrack competed with the unedited version of Eamon’s forgotten and unlamented “F*ck It (I Don’t Want You Back)”. At full volume. Given the light and sound shows along the same stretch of waterfront it’s probably churlish to complain about a bit more noise, but The Moluccas Room, and even nearby HY California, prove you don’t have to be as uncaring about atmosphere as the tourists who frequent your venue.

Strip away the music (in other words, come at lunch) and it’s a different story. They never quite pull off the beach diner vibe they’re going for (facing into the LV store doesn’t help), but the modern Med food’s reasonably impressive—in a soundproofed room we’d have really enjoyed the lime-seasoned crispy pork belly ($16), the harissa spiced lamb salad ($25) and simple pizzas like the rich, buffalo-bolstered Roma ($24)—though it is inconsistent; for one thing, you’ll want to forgo the beer battered barramundi ($28)—too little fish, too many fries—in favor of the crispy king prawns ($21). And they do have a decent Antipodean wine list ($46 and up).

But if they want to be a bistro and not just a bar then they’re making all the wrong noises.