Port Macquarie, NSW: Best places to eat - chef Pete Cutcliffe's picks

THE EXPERT

Having worked in some of Sydney's top kitchens, Pete Cutcliffe made a sea change back to his hometown of Port Macquarie, for a head chef role at local fish house Bills. He bought the business and is now establishing his concept restaurant, twotriplefour, opening this month. See billsfishhouse.com.au

BREAKFAST

Drury Lane is one of my favourite eateries for wholesome, paddock-to-plate-style food. Their breakfast offering is an absolute standout. My go-to order is the Protein Breakfast: brisket, a fried egg, local greens and chimichurri – made from copious amounts of local herbs. Owner Drury Woolnough is so talented and innovative in the kitchen. There's an inclusive community feel in everything they do – even their plates have been donated by customers. See facebook.com/drurylaneeatery

COFFEE

Like most, I simply wouldn't survive without my daily caffeine hit. I will always grab a double-shot latte (in my Keep Cup) from S3 Expresso. Hands down the best coffee in town. They use Mecca beans which are beautifully high quality and so rich in flavour. S3 are a tight-knit family of experienced baristas and a welcoming ethos resonates at every touchpoint of the business – I love that. See facebook.com/studio3espresso

LUNCH

Local micro brewery Moore Beer is a truly unique venue and unlike anything else the town has to offer. The MB team have partnered with Char Bar for a permanent pop-up on the premises so I tuck into the Southern Fried Chicken Burger (honestly, the best fried chicken I've ever had for its texture and taste) paired with Moore Beer's Little Poppa – a hazy pale ale. See moorebeer.com.au

PRE-DINNER DRINK

Botanic Wine Garden is a lovely boutique wine bar in the heart of town. They have an extensive and interesting premium wine list featuring some brilliant international, biodynamic and orange wines. I'm always partial to a dry white like a gewurztraminer but owner Joel Murdoch is incredibly passionate and well versed in vino so I usually let him select for me. See botanicwinegarden.com.au

DINNER

Even when I'm not in the kitchen, Bills is my first choice for dinner out. We are very lucky to have access to some of the best seafood on the Mid North Coast and the pick of local produce. Our signature dish of BBQ King Prawns is my absolute favourite for the incredible barbecued umami taste. Bills is a really memorable dining experience – I see it as a Sydney restaurant in a coastal town with the best staff in the biz (but sure, I may be a little biased). See billsfishouse.com.au

NIGHTCAP

Forget the fortified wine after dinner, I head straight to Blue Cow Gelato for a roady. I love this small, family-owned business. All their gelato and sorbet offerings are made in-house, by hand. They experiment with ingredients, too, which I can really appreciate although I can't seem to ever get past the pistachio. See bluecowgelato.com.au

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