Enjoy Hints of Native Bush Flavours at this Hunter Valley Restaurant
We came across Kawul in our hunt for breakfast locations in the Hunter Valley but as a visit to the recently renovated restaurant revealed - breakfast was just the tip of the iceberg.
Kawul calls Calais Estate, Pokolbin home and occupies the previous location of Verandah Restaurant, but as we sauntered up the stairs for a spot of lunch, we were pleasantly surprised by the change.
They have really created a stylish and inviting restaurant with fresh white walls, warm exposed bricks, wooden floors and Aboriginal artwork adorning the walls.
The Aboriginal artwork is a deliberate step to showcase the work of local Wonnarua people including Binda and Alinga and complement the restaurant’s approach to incorporating local, native and organic produce used by our ancestors. This theme is seen throughout Kawul including in their menu which is inspired by Australian bush flavours. The local Mushrooms with Burnt Fennel Puree, Labna and Saltbush Spring Roll clearly illustrate this approach.
No doubt you will also notice the many plant based items on the menu, which the vegans and vegetarians among us will be happy about. The Dutch Cream potato gnocchi with warrigal greens, oyster mushroom and macadamia cream is something a little different to look forward to.
There is also a good variety of vegan options such as the Potato and Lentil Burger with Avocado, Tomato, Chilli Jam and Bush Tomato Seasoned Chips.
And kids are catered for too with a special kids menu with meals ranging from $8 - $15.
All this scouring the menu had our bellies rumbling so we headed out to the verandah dreaming of our lunch to come.
The verandah space is just as lovely as the inside. The view is the hero! Through the old wrought iron balustrade we enjoyed taking in the green rolling hills of the surrounding vineyards. There were fairy lights twinkling like stars above us, natural eucalypt garnishing the table and light wood furniture which all made for quite a calming and natural vibe.
We were recommended to try the Daintree Barramundi with Lemon Myrtle, Zucchini, Tomato and Charred Fennel Puree which was absolutely divine. The skin was crispy and the softness of the puree complimented it completely.
We also enjoyed the roast lamb rump with kipfler potatoes, miso eggplant, labna and jus. And just reminiscing about our visit has my mouth watering. The lamb was tender and partnered with the jus and labna was deliciously rich.
We opted for the warm green bean salad to balance out our meals and get some extra vegetables in. It came with almonds, marinated tofu and a citrus dressing.
We also had to try a few beverages whilst we were there. We opted for the house made lavender soda which was a refreshing twist on the usual sparkling water. Milly, the Front of House Manager, recommended the Calais Estate Limited Release 2017 Sec Semillon to be paired with my fish. And the last one we had to try was the Cucumber and Apple Martini - perfect to enjoy as both a pre or post drink whilst relaxing in the lounge area.
With a drink in hand, we caught up with Jayden Casinelli the Head Chef and Manager of Kawul. This is one young gun of a chef we are keen to keep an eye on. At just 24, the quality of the food served at Kawul and the interesting take on traditional concepts whilst including indigenous flavours showed a creative flair and skill that was beyond his years. No doubt, his earlier time spent working with the two Chef Hat awarded Chefs, Troy Rhodes-Brown and Mitch Beswick from Muse Restaurant in Pokolbin would have set him up nicely.
When asked about the style of food he creates, Jayden explained,
“My style is quite traditional with influences from Australian contemporary chefs and the changing food scene. My style changes with the seasons and what produce can be sourced locally”.
Jayden Casinelli Manager and Head Chef, Kawul
Kawul seems to be the perfect match for Jayden and with the inspiring menu, great service and picturesque location, this is one restaurant that is worth a visit.
Kawul is open for breakfast and lunch Friday - Monday with an a la carte menu on offer. Dinner is a two or three course set menu at a very reasonable $55 and $70 per person respectively. They are open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights with Thursday soon to be added to the roster.