What: The Landing Bar and Kitchen; 1 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle; 4927 1722; thelanding.com.au.
Chef: Andrew Wickham.
Wines: Mainly Hunter with other Australian and NZ wines.
Hours: Lunch, Friday to Sunday from 12pm – 3pm; Dinner, Wednesday to Monday from 6pm.
Vegetarian: One share plate, one hipster salad, one entree, two pizzas.
Bottom line: Entree, main, dessert for two, about $130 without drinks.
Wheelchair access: Lower level accessible from waterfront.
Do try: Market fish with romesco, confit heirloom tomatoes, gazpacho vinaigrette and basil.
Shared plates, hipster salads, pizzas and burgers; entrees masquerading as starters and mains masquerading as large plates - take your pick at The Landing Bar and Kitchen.
This is one of those places where it's so much more fun if you go with some mates; and the bigger the group, the bigger the choice because chef Andrew Wickham and his kitchen brigade have put together some pretty tasty options in their new autumn menu.
You might start with grilled sourdough ($8), crisply crumbed mushroom and taleggio arancini (five for $15) or a bucket of prawns ($24) to share. Or you might go the traditional route (entree, main, dessert).
Pan-fried calamari and bacon ($18) is an entree you might want to keep to yourself. A tangle of slightly chewy (but not in a bad way) baby calamari and crisp bacon pieces is almost buried by a thatch of baby salad leaves and feathery fennel but then rescued by a chive-speckled lemon cream.
Another entree of ceviche ($17) is prepared Peruvian style; cubes of raw white fish, slightly 'cooked' in lime, with roasted corn salsa spiked with coriander.
Seared scallops ($18) are large, plump and gorgeous, served on a generous smear of smooth parsnip puree and sprinkled with morcilla (blood sausage) crumbs, burnt butter and baby salad leaves.
Large appetites will appreciate the 300 grams butcher's cut of beef ($38 or market price). Tonight it's a thick sirloin, cooked medium rare and well rested, presented simply, with al dente green beans and just enough crispy chat potatoes to soak up every drop of the lip-smacking good bone marrow jus.
While the crackling on the twice-cooked pork belly ($32) could have been a little cracklier, there is nothing wrong with the softly pull-apart meat, its richness cut by a tangy chimichurri, the parsley, garlic, oregano, oil and vinegar sauce from Argentina.
The Latin theme continues, with Spanish inspired romesco sauce providing the perfect foil to a wedge of hapuka ($32 or market price). Moist, white flesh topped by a very crisp skin comes with robust flavoured confit heirloom tomatoes and gazpacho vinaigrette for an extra flavour boost. If you've reached this point you could do worse than pause and take in the advice given by Erma Bombeck: "Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."
This dessert cart's not very large - just three to choose ($15 each) - but what it lacks in size it must make up in calories! There's white chocolate and pumpkin tart with powdered peanut butter, candied bacon and peanut butter ice-cream (just how down home southern United States can you get?) and raspberry cheesecake with raspberries, raspberry gel, biscuit crumb and roasted almonds, to name two. This may be a good time to share.
Glazed chocolate terrine wins out. A rectangular log of dense, dark chocolate gets an added chocolate hit from a glossy dark chocolate glaze; then, more peanuts - a good handful of sugared nuts scattered across the top.
However, the piece de resistance must be the freeze-dried manuka honey - sweet, honey-flavoured powder that just melts in the mouth.
There's so much to choose. Either be prepared for a return visit soon, or muster up some like-minded mates to get as much as you can out of the new menu.