Decided to have dinner at Cellar Restaurant for our first night in the Hunter Valley. Since this was meant to be a nice relaxing get away as opposed to a full on trip, visiting every awesome food store and seeing everything possible, I decided to wing it and planned none of our meals or days in advance.
When we first got to Hunter we realised that all the restaurants were really fancy, all fine dinning and etc. It made sense to us after a while, why open up a restaurant in the Hunter Valley, especially near the wineries like in Pokolbin and Lovedale unless you have a passion for food. Regardless of this understanding we were still pretty shocked to see this and hence we went with the most ‘casual’ place that was still highly rated. I say ‘casual’ because its still pretty damn fancy, $30 mains, fancy wine, waiters putting napkins on your lap and etc. The only casual part is that we think we saw a guy in jeans in there.
To start we got a pork, veal and pistachio terrine ($16). This is pretty unusual, I think we were expecting something softer, something more pate like, smooth and fatty. This dish was nice in its own right, just not what we were expecting. The terrine was quite firm, dense while the edges were a little jelly like. Overall it was a little bland, you couldn’t really make out any meat taste (let alone pork and veal flavours) but this went well with the flavoursome condiments. Worked really well when you coupled the terrine with some condiments on the super crispy and lightly oiled bread, pretty sure that’s how the dish it meant to be eaten and it definitely worked when it was done like that.
Yorkshire pudding with braised Wagyu skirt and horseradish crème fraiche morsel ($6.5).This little morsel sounded pretty awesome and enticing from the menu so we grabbed one to try it out. (Our plan was to try out a couple of the other morsels after our mains but like always, we were pretty full).
This was awesome! The filling was super rich and full of flavour while the pastry was light and fluffy. Worked really well together, awesome little bite size, wish we could of tried some of the other morsels or gotten a couple more of these.
To start our mains, we got the venison, mushroom and red wine pie with crushed peas and kipfler potatoes ($29). This was a special for the night (pretty sure it sticks around but it cannot be found on the online menu, so fingers crossed that I remembered the price right). The pie filling was really rich, the red wine was quite strong and unfortunately there wasn’t much of a mushroom flavour, especially because I love mushrooms! The venison was really soft and delicious but it did become a bit too much towards the end, the peas were really nice and fresh but they weren’t enough to change up the flavours of the pie.
For our last dish of the night we got the Crystal Bay prawns with chargrilled asparagus, salt cod Scotch egg and caper aioli ($26). On this particular night they ran out of asparagus and replaced it with some green beans, which I didn’t mind cos I really like green beans! This dish was really cool, I liked the idea of a seafood Scotch egg. I’ve never tried Scotch eggs before, I learnt about them after weaning off meat so this was a nice alternative. The prawns on this dish were really good, they were absolutely massive and they a really nice flavour to them that didn’t seem to come from seasoning or anything, just probably the type of prawns or where they came from. The prawns went really well with the caper aioli and I’m not not a massive caper fan but here it just worked, it gave the aioli a saltness and brought everything together nicely. It was so good I was scraping up all the aioli from the plate.
I really liked Cellar, it was not too fancy but the food was still really nice. It was a really nice way to transition from our casual eats and home food in Canberra to awesome and fresh foods of the Hunter Valley.
Check out some of our other food adventures from the Hunter Valley: