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Hunter Valley Dining: Firestick August 23, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Food, Travel.
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The view from Firestick/ROCK

ROCK Restaurant (don’t blame me for the caps), headed by chef Andrew Clarke, is one of the better known places to dine in the Hunter Valley (with 2 Chefs Hats).  Unfortunately, ROCK is only open for dinner, but its “sister” restaurant, Firestick Cafe, takes its place during the day.

Having arrived at the Hunter Valley around lunch time, we were desperately in search of a place to eat, and Firestick was one of the few places that served lunch and had seats available.  And so we went.

Located at Poole’s Rock Winery Estate, Firestick/ROCK has an exterior that is sleeker and classier than most of the other restaurants in the region.  Inside, the seating area is long and rectangular, with a wide view of the winery and a rare lake (complete with sprinklers) on one side and the bar/kitchen on the other.  It made the place look more commercial than the laid back, family style of the other restaurants we would visit in the next day or two.

Firestick serves a combination of proper fine dining meals and lighter snacks, such as pizza.  The full menu can be found here.  After much deliberation, we went with something light in lieu of the massive dinner we intended to have — a Wagyu burger ($23) and a pork belly and red cabbage pizza ($25).

The food didn’t take too long to come, but the service was not very attentive, even though they were not particularly busy or understaffed.  It took several attempts to catch the attention of the two waiters, and we were constantly needing refills of our water.

The meal started with a free amuse-bouche, a small piece of bread with cream cheese and tomato.  It was not bad — quite refreshing and not as heavy as expected.

The amuse-bouche

Then the mains.  I must admit, they were not as good as I wanted them to be.  The burger, while nice (especially the Wagyu), was tiny and lacking in flavour, though the chips were excellent — hot and crunchy, just the way I like them.

Wagyu beef burger

The pizza, on the other hand, was pretty good — they were certainly not stingy on the toppings and the flavours of the pork belly, cabbage and pear relish complemented each other nicely.  My only complaint is that it looked and felt very oily.

Pork belly, braised red cabbage and pear relish pizza

For dessert, we went with some kind of apple/rhubarb crumble ($14).  Not bad, but not great either.

That is not ice cream. It's just cream!

So that’s that.  Our first meal in the Hunter Valley was pricey ($62 for lunch + drinks) but didn’t quite give us the satisfaction we craved.  Clearly I cannot comment on ROCK because it is a different restaurant (albeit same venue) with a different menu, but Firestick was ultimately a disappointment.

6 out of 10

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