Nestled 80 minutes outside of Sydney, 8 at Trinity is more than just a restaurant; it’s a haven of indulgence. Boasting a grand dining room with soaring 6.5m ceilings, sun-drenched terraces that overlook the marina, and luxury resort vibes, the restaurant offers a blend of sophistication and approachability and sets the stage for an extraordinary dining experience.
After checking into our three-bedroom townhouse, complete with lavish appointments and SMEG appliances, we decide to head to the restaurant for dinner despite having a lunch booking tomorrow. After all, there’s not much else in the area, and the menu is so extensive it would take us more than a weekend to work our way through it.
As we noted when we drove in, the sleepy suburb of Morisset Park is an unexpected spot for a world-class gastronomic playground and resort-style marina. Yet when we walk in, the 300 seat restaurant is already packed. We’re welcomed warmly by the passionate owner and manager Natalie Johnson, who settles us into our marble table on the deck, sorts the kids out with colouring-in packs and orders me the bougiest Margarita I’ve ever seen (complete with top shelf tequila and gold leafing).
Once she’s helped us order just about everything on the menu, Natalie explains that the pop-up restaurant is only the initial piece in a grand $720 million transformation of the area. Remarkably, the restaurant will all be dismantled in a few years to make way for a planned luxury hotel and retail precinct of epic proportions.
“Most people thought I was crazy,” she admits as she serves us a delicate Kingfish Ceviche that, adorned with flowers, is almost too pretty to eat. “The builders said, ‘good luck with your plans,” she says, laughing.
Clad in a Balmain sweater and Vuitton trainers, it’s clear that Natalie has an eye for luxury. Her career trajectory has her perfectly poised for a project of this magnitude. She started working in property development with her father at 14 then took detours through interior design and beauty therapy before landing on hospitality and opening her first restaurant at 19. As she spreads print outs of the Trinity Point development plans before us it’s obvious that this is her passion project.
Natalie’s husband Keith Johnson owns Johnson Property Group and has already sold most of the land on the the 23-hectare development on the southern end of Lake Macquarie. The couple are intending to create a holistic luxury resort experience, their project will include two expansive 300-seat restaurants, a 220-room hotel, a wellness and day spa, multiple bars, a pool, and 218 waterfront apartments on the marina’s edge. But for now, it’s all about building the dream, starting with this restaurant. Natalie tells me proudly that they serve 1000 people a day- incredible given how remote the location is.
As we work our way through our meal, I can see what all the fuss is about. Not only is it visually spectacular, it’s undeniably delicious. The Kingfish Ceviche is delicate yet zesty while the contrasting textures of the Roasted Watermelon and creamy burrata create a mouthwatering symphony. The stand out for me, though? The Singapore Chilli Prawns. Served with a tomato, chilli, and coriander sauce that fills the air with fragrant allure. We couldn’t resist but take the leftovers home, and ended up eating it with eggs and crusty bread for breakfast.
The rest of the weekend was spent eating (we returned the following day to try the extravagant seafood platter and more cocktails!) Amidst the lavish dining, it was impossible to overlook the surrounding beauty. We hired e-bikes and explored the serene backdrop of Lake Macquarie, and wrapped up our stay on Sunday feeling refreshed, inspired and ceremoniously unbuttoning the top button on our jeans.
The magic of 8 at Trinity extends far beyond the culinary sensations. The dedication and commitment of Natalie and her team shines through. I can’t wait to witness the fulfilment of the Johnsons’ epic plans.