The search for dinner on Monday
Posted by Lisa Hill on January 19, 2010
After a day of complete idleness (reading, writing, Sudoku, antipasto lunch on the deck), we set out for dinner at the Millfield General Store. The store has changed hands, and now has a splendid selection of Hunter Valley treats for sale – gourmet cheeses, handmade pickles, beautiful olive oils and an amazing range of seafood and cut meats. There’s also a small bar and you can have a meal there that’s a step up from the usual café fare. Alas, at 5.30 they had closed the bar, café and take-away, so after some Melbourne muttering about inhospitable kitchen hours in the countryside we set off for the rather appealing café we had noticed in Wollembi en route on our first day. That was closed too, and so was the kitchen in the pub. We could barbecue our own steak, suggested one helpful chap, but we were not in the mood for either steak or cooking – so we set off for Cessnock.
Well at least there were plenty of places open. The usual fast food outlets were there but we were most certainly not in the mood for children en masse. Having driven so far (about 10k from Bellbird Cottage and that’s not counting the 15k side trip to Wollembi), we felt we deserved a proper meal and were feeling ambitious. We tried the main street and found an ‘Asian’ café open and a Thai restaurant closed; we checked out the fish-and-chip shop and a greasy Joe’s. There were some pubs too, of the sort that most travellers in Australian country towns have seen. Our ambitions faded, and we adjusted our expectations.
So the Kurrajong Restaurant in the Cessnock Hotel was a surprise. It’s nicely decorated, the service was friendly, the wines-by-the-glass options were good and the ambience was ok. (No children, no drunks, no shrieking 20-something old females). Tim was brave and ordered the kangaroo; I thought they couldn’t cook it as well as he does and chose the seafood paella. Big mistake. His roo was excellent, and my paella was awful. I think they made the stock from tinned tomato soup and the rice was gluggy.
Still starving, I ordered dessert. Tim chose the burnt orange pannacotta which was more than edible. With fond memories of Tina’s New Year’s Eve Summer puddings bursting with berries of all kinds – I chose the Kurrajong’s version of the same. Another big mistake. I sulked over a Baileys and made various belated New Year’s Resolutions regarding eating out in country Australia.