East End Hub really is situated in a prime location for a cafe. There’s a bustling hotel on one side, the glorious Newcastle beach on the other and it sits on the edge of a large plaza surrounded by the Royal apartment complex.
Needless to say, it’s a busy place. People are lounging around at the outside tables enjoying the salty sea breeze drifting up from the ocean; parents can relax while the kids play in the protected plaza; and diners can shelter inside to have working lunches, catch-ups and easy breakfasts.
I first visited when it opened back in 2010 and haven’t been back since. Things have changed since my initial experience, and definitely for the better. The kitchen is turning out interesting dishes, but more importantly, the dining room is being handled smoothly and with a sense of control. The usual routine has been conquered: you arrive, are seated, brought menus and water, and within a reasonable amount of time orders are taken, drinks served, followed by the food.
This was not the case during my last visit, but now there is a new team, a new owner and a new energy and they are getting it right.
Open seven days a week from 7am, breakfast can be a breezy affair with muffins, banana bread, fruit loaf, toast, fruit with yoghurt and honey or muesli, or it can be hearty and bold to fuel you for the day.
Thick corn fritters are fluffy and not too oily with sweetness from the corn kernels and a balsamic glaze. Salty bacon, spinach and roast tomato accompanies. Meat eaters will be in heaven with the Meat Man Dreaming: eggs, bacon, speck, chorizo plus a rosti, chilli jam and toast. For more of a balance, try the house baked beans in a vine tomato sugo with pulled pork hock, poached eggs on toasted sourdough. Vegetarians are well catered for – the roast mushrooms with goat’s cheese, basil pesto and poached eggs on toasted sourdough is hearty enough for any carnivore as well.
Lunch can be as casual as a chicken burger, or as prepared as a colourful bowl of hand-rolled gnocchi with duck breast, spinach, beetroot, goat’s cheese and pine nuts.
The hub Caesar salad with chicken is a solid rendition of the classic. A big bowl of cooked chicken sitting on crispy cos, shards of salty bacon and tangy shaved parmesan has just enough dressing to coat the ingredients without drowning them. A poached egg, just hanging onto its gooeyness oozes out across the offering. Crunchy croutons happily are made from real baked bread.
A rump steak sandwich with bacon, caramelised onion, melted cheese and luscious housemade BBQ sauce fills a big hunger, Multigrain toast, perfect cooking, just enough seasoning and a sprinkling of parsley lift it above average. Thin French fries are completely more-ish.
The yakiniku (basically, grilled meat) spiced beef salad is a salad that is truly a meal and overally a great idea for a dish. Soba noodles and peanuts are earthy and textural, but a sticky sauce of soy, chilli and ginger overwhelms the dish.
There’s more on the menu that interests the appetite, and with quality produce and inventive dishes coming out of the kitchen, coupled with proficient service in the dining room and a great spot to boot, I’ll be back to try some more.
- What: East End Hub
- Where: 3/3 King St, Newcastle. 4929 1588. eastendhub.com.au
- Hours: 7 days Breakfast 7-11.30am; Lunch 12-3pm; coffee and cake 3-4pm.
- Chef/owner: Anthony Kocon
- Drinks: Coffee, tea, as well as beer, wine.
- Vegetarian: Plenty.
- Wheelchair access: Yes
- Bottom line: Breakfast $5-23; Lunch $14-31
- Do try: Duck gnocchi.