When you think of Port Hedland, which is nestled on the north coast of Western Australia, you probably wouldn’t imagine an upscale beachside oasis that transports you directly to Palm Springs. Somehow, that’s exactly what the Prendiville Group has achieved with its latest restaurant launch: Rays at the Headland Hotel.
I stayed at the hotel with a group of food writers and it’s safe to say the food certainly lived up to our expectations. It’s currently undergoing a multi-million dollar redevelopment, with Rays being the first thing zhuzhed up, serving an array of stunning seafood dishes, authentic wood-fired pizzas, grilled meats, and of course, some decadent desserts.
Stepping onto the property, I was instantly taken by the pops of pastel colours and a laid-back feel. There’s a white stone arch that wouldn’t seem out of place in Italy and the restaurant is situated right by the water. There’s plenty of shade, comfy seating and an abundance of greenery. The hero – apart from the food – is the incredible view: a coastline that seems to stretch for miles. It’s referred to as a desert oasis, which sums it all up perfectly.
After doing some mandatory taste tests from the cocktail menu (for research, of course), we were ushered into the neighbouring pizza kitchen. The Italian chef Joe took us through the process of making our very own pizzas. This particular experience isn’t offered to guests just yet, but once it’s up and running, I’m sure it’ll be a hit with locals and tourists in the area.
I’m far from being a pizza pro after one lesson, but I did feel proud of my tasty creation. It was a bit misshapen – picking up a pizza and launching it into the oven isn’t as easy as it looks – but choosing a combo of artichoke, sundried tomatoes and red onion was pretty damn genius, if I do say so myself.
Rays has a big table shuffleboard table inside, and if you’ve never played the American bar game before, you’re missing out. It can get quite heated, depending on just how competitive you are, so it’s probably best to grab another cocktail while playing. All the drinks are delish, but their frozen strawberry daiquiri is perfect for the desert heat… and it’s fruit, so it’s healthy. Right?
We spent the evening eating our way through the menu, with Rays’ signature seafood tower delighting the whole group. I’m talking prawns, scallops, oysters, octopus, king crab and lobster. If that wasn’t enough, we were also treated to tacos and cauliflower cheese croquettes… when I say I had to roll back to my room, I’m being completely serious.
The Executive Chef Mitch Mezciem, along with Prendeville Group’s Director of Food Russell Blaikie, have developed a menu using sustainably sourced WA seafood, with high-quality produce. In a time where many punters are now looking for ways to live a sustainable life, the care they’ve taken when planning the menu won’t go unnoticed.
My hotel room was a little dated, but I believe the Prendiville Group are planning to give the rooms an overhaul in the future. It was perfectly comfortable and being able to see the sunset from the balcony was a plus. And, in a thoughtful touch, the hotel gifted me a Rays-themed cocktail – an Old Fashioned – along with a t-shirt, drink bottle and a selection of sweets. That’s one way to make sure I won’t be forgetting about this trip in the future.
Feature image: Supplied