I can’t remember the last time I visited Singleton. It’s been more of a place I’ve driven through rather than to. But on this occasion I have two very good reasons to visit. One is to do the Singleton Parkrun, as it turns out, on a chilly morning that’s threatening to rain. Not being much of a morning person, we decide to head up after work on Friday to check out the town and so we can roll out of bed at 7am, head to Rose Point Park and do the run. With a Friday night at our leisure, we head for the other reason we’ve come here: The Grainery.
Tucked down a passageway, it's labelled a gastropub by name but this is definitely more bistro by nature. It does however, have five beers on tap, a huge selection of Australian bottled crafts beers and a prolific selection of Australian wines with a sprinkling of interstate and French drops.
It’s a U-shaped space with the kitchen and bar in the centre. There’s also an outdoor deck for the warmer weather. There are chandeliers, bench seating, Bentwood chairs, dark tables and candles. It has the air of a French cafe, save for the Aussie accents.
The menu aims keeps things relaxed – come for a drink and nibble, grab a quick dinner, or settle in for the night. With nowhere else to be on this frosty evening, we order a drink and entrees. A glass of Stomp Vivre sparkling verdelho and a tasting beer paddle warms our cockles.
The kitchen aims to source as much local produce as possible; from the eggs, to the vegetables and meat, even extending to the drink selections. It supports the local growers and producers and reduces the amount of travel time, cost and pollution. Win-win.
In no time (well, enough to order a second round of drinks – a Travertine chardonnay which manages to be creamy and spicy all at once) our starters arrive. Home-made gnocchi with greens and truffle cream is surprisingly good. The gnocchi pillows are light, soft and crispy in the outside. It's mixed with an assortment of mushrooms, lettuce, wilted greens, parmesan and a creamy truffle sauce. There's a sweetness mixed in amongst the savoury. It's a dark, rich dish and perfect for a winter’s night.
Bourbon and paprika chicken comes with a pot of yoghurt dressing. There are three full wings with charring on the edges adding a rough and raw quality. The bird is well cooked and arrives nice and hot. The marinate is deep - it has gone through the skin to the flesh and gives it a sweet, earthy flavour. We get knives and forks, but these are finger licking yum, so it's best to get our hands dirty.
The mains are a hearty affair: choose two sides and a sauce with your choice of meat. The proteins include: chicken leg, pork cheeks, jew fish, lamb shanks, a scotch fillet or a Tomahawk steak. Try them with creamy mashed potato; broccolini and pecorino; or roast pumpkin with carrot, jerusalem artichoke and toasted grains.
The Nolan scotch fillet is asked for medium-rare and is cooked to order. It's tender, not chewy. A seeded mustard goes well with it. As does the creamy mash. It is silky. It is smooth. It is super buttery. And extra creamy. Just perfect. A side of cauliflower with onion and pangratatto is great, but a little more would be better. The lamb shank just melts off the bone. It is so tender and so lamby in flavour. It's all a caramelly, earthy, roasted pleasure.
There’s still room for dessert...just. We opt for a chocolate fondant with a salted caramel sauce. It has the requisite goo, but lacks a little in chocolatey-ness.
We toddle back down John Street in the biting air. Content after a really enjoyable meal and in the knowledge that we’ll be running it off in the morning.