Now that its the New Year, it’s all about getting back into schedule. On top of the start-of-the-year office scramble after a two week shut-down, I’ve taken on another permanent group dance fitness class during the week and I’m certainly feeling all of the luxurious eating and drinking that happened over the Christmas and New Year period! I had been lucky enough to spend Christmas up on the north coast with Night Owl‘s family, and on our arrival there for our first evening Night Owl’s uncle and aunt took us out to The Edwards, situated in Newcastle’s West End. Unfortunately I’m fairly unfamiliar with Newcastle geography (I had to use phone GPS during my whole couple of days there) so I can’t really tell you how it’s situated in terms of distance from the main city strip.
With classic industrial-chic interiors of high ceilings, sleek and warm wooden furniture and flickering candles it’s nothing new to the casual dining scene, but it’s comfortably familiar and we are enthusiastically greeted by the bar manager who is a family friend. The Edwards focuses on a number of large rustic-style share dishes for dinner, and I was told to “order as I like” being the guest foodie. Drinks-wise, we ladies shared a bottle of white (likely a sauvignon blanc) and both Night Owl and I were astonished to see the inner-west brewery’s Newtowner available as well.
The crowd was a mixture of young families, teenagers and groups of guys and girls in their early 20s and 30s – either simply enjoying the pre-Christmas holidays or avoiding Christmas cooking until the very last minute. With the high ceilings and wooden furnishings the sound did reverberate around the large room and make it a little hard to hear, but when the food arrives you will be concentrating more on eating and not so much on talking after all!
The food arrived with surprising speed, the first few being the side dishes.
The Sauteed Brassica with bacon, cranberry and cashews ($17) had a beautiful amount of crunch and flavour; the broccoli absorbing the flavour of the fat from the bacon pieces and the sweetness of the cranberries lingering on your palate with the subtle buttery nature of the cashews. With the name of the dish, I would guess that maybe The Edwards would interchange the broccoli with brussel sprouts – another member of the brassica family – and brussel sprouts always go deliciously well with bacon.
The Perfect Potato Salad ($15) was quite perfect indeed, with bacon, egg, mounds of crushed peas, gherkin and a generous lather of aioli. I could quite happily eat this on its own – potatoes cooked in any way are my Achilles heel.
The Field Mushrooms ($18) was a popular choice at our table. Cooked with confit garlic, fetta, truffle and porcini crumbs and chilli oil, the mushrooms were deliciously juicy and plump; beautifully garlicky and cheesy – amazingly fragrant.
I had selected two mains for the table, the first being the Honey & Spice Duck ($50) as this gamey poultry is a favourite of Night Owl’s. It came served with pickled cabbage, fig cream, and a wood-roasted blood orange.
I found that the meat leaned slightly on the dry side, which was a shame considering the skin was amazingly crisp and golden. It was quite lovely when combined with the subtle tangy sweetness of the fig cream and the aroma of the blood orange, but I personally found it a little exxy for the portion size that came out.
The 700g lamb shoulder ($49) was more generous with its serving size, the hunk of meat coming out with its bone still embedded, served with chive sour cream, adjvar and hand-rolled flat-bread.
It was when you dug your fork into the shoulder and pulled that you discovered how beautifully the meat shredded away off the bone, yet it was still remarkably tender and flavoursome. Best consumed rolled into the warm, gorgeously soft home-made flat bread, with a slather of chive cream. This was the stand-out favourite of the evening.
As my host family were friends with the manager of the venue, we were lucky enough to be treated to dessert on the house, a massive sharing board of a variety of the items they had on the menu:
Home-made green-apple sorbet, deconstructed lamingtons, and fried doughnuts with a raspberry cream. The texture of the raspberry cream reminded me of a Swiss meringue – amazingly light and very fluffy. The glass of sorbet got passed around and demolished; it was the perfect palate cleanser after a wonderful feast. We had the pleasure of meeting the chef as well – something I wish I could do more often as there is nothing better than witnessing the passion and enthusiasm of a person that loves engaging with all of their senses to provide their interpretation of what good food is.
The food here is what I can only describe as “honest” – a far cry from your degustation dinners; and other foodies will understand what I mean. It’s the complete lack of gimmicks, complex techniques and equipment – just cooking food in a way that’s simple yet which also highlights the natural flavours and good quality of the seasonal produce that’s available. Definitely a new reason to stop by on my next visit up north 🙂
148 Parry Street
Newcastle West NSW 2302
(02) 4965 3845