MEET pops up on Darby Street and Jamie Thomas leaves The Family

EXCITING: MEET Restaurant at Honeysuckle has joined the pop-up game by opening The Chop Shop at Darby Street Automotive Services. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

EXCITING: MEET Restaurant at Honeysuckle has joined the pop-up game by opening The Chop Shop at Darby Street Automotive Services. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

What do a mechanic and Brazilian street food have in common? Nothing, really – until last Friday, that is, when MEET Restaurant Honeysuckle launched The Chop Shop at Darby Street Automotive Services.

The MEET food truck will serve authentic Brazilian street food at 67-79 Darby Street, Newcastle, on Fridays from 6pm. On Saturdays and Sundays it is open from 9am to 3pm, and 5pm to 9pm.

On the menu? Gourmet toasties – think smoked brisket, jalapeno, cheese and bacon jam and a side of pickles; or BBQ vegetable, cheese and chimichurri – as well as spit-roasted meats.

“We were always fond of the idea of doing different street food and this environment allows us to get a bit more creative with our menu,” MEET co-owner Mitchell Steel said.

“There will be times when we have prior commitments and may not be available every weekend, though, so there may be opportunities for other vendors to jump in and see what this creative space has to offer.”

On the move

Chef Jamie Thomas has moved on from The Family Hotel in Newcastle West and opened Winnie’s Jamaican at Finnegan’s Hotel. He also has his finger in the pie at Town Hall Bistro, where his business partner Luke Smith is serving modern English cuisine to punters who can’t get enough of his lamb’s fry, ox tongue and offal dishes. 

Thomas was executive chef at Drink’n’Dine in Sydney for five years and in charge of all six of their restaurants, including Jamaican joint Queenies. 

“I sold my shares in the Family and it was all amicable. Jamaican is my favourite food to cook and I love the whole vibe. The first week at Winnie’s went really well, especially the lunches, and we got great feedback. But I’m under no real pressure, I’m just taking my time getting it off the ground.”

Changes at Star

The Star Hotel has a new winter menu which is described as “smart casual” and “simple food done well”. Highlights include a choice of five burgers with salads, grazing plates, four pizzas and mains like crispy pork belly and 12-hour braised beef cheeks. Meal deals are still on offer throughout the week as well as an ever-changing $10 lunch menu – this week it’s pumpkin soup; bacon, chilli and spinach fettucine; beef stroganoff; and a Moroccan chicken burger.  

Feeling Lucky?

Time is running out to take advantage of the Lucky Hotel’s school holiday deal – purchase any main meal for lunch between Monday and Wednesday and receive a “Kids Meal” and ice-cream dessert for free. 

Winning wines

Herald wine writer John Lewis says Pokolbin’s winning Brisbane Wine Show wines are now available for sale: McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant 2009 Lovedale Vineyard Hunter Semillon, best mature white and best semillon, $90 at Marrowbone Road winery, mountpleasantwines.com.au and in shops; McWilliam’s Riverina-sourced Hanwood Estate Touriga, $25 at mcwilliamscellar.com.au, in wine stores and at Hanwood Estate cellar door; and Poole’s Rock 2016 Tasmania Pinot Noir, best pinot noir, $45 at poolesrock.com.au, at 576 De Beyers Road and in wine stores.

Family Food Fight

Channel Nine is working on new prime-time cooking competition Family Food Fight, where six food-loving families from across the country will go head-to-head in the kitchen in a quest to find Australia’s top food family. Chef and restaurateur Matt Moran, pastry chef Anna Polyviou and Hayden Quinn will be the judges, with food writer and critic Tom Parker Bowles appearing as a guest judge.

Street food buzz

The Beehive at Honeysuckle has introduced Street Nights by the City’s Lights on Friday and Saturday nights, 5pm until late. Ten international street dishes will be on the menu for $10 a plate. 

Christmas tapas

Fernleigh Cafe is feeling festive. This month they will be serving tapas with a Christmas in July theme – think coconut sugar pork skewers; slow-roasted Kleftico lamb with skordalia; and rum balls with Tasmanian whisky custard and chocolate bark. The cost is $45 per person (BYO, no corkage) and tickets are selling fast. 

Pasta at Sprout

If you haven’t tried Sprout Dining’s $10 pasta menu on a Monday night, you should. Choices include naked squid and scallop fettucini with rocket, garlic and olives dressed with a light tomato cream; chilli, chorizo and pumpkin tagliatelle with Napolitana sauce, confit garlic and Romesco; and pork bolognaise spaghetti with tomato and salsa verde. The children’s menu is free and you can order dessert, too. It’s upstairs at the Crown & Anchor Hotel in Newcastle. 

Cravings returns

The new-look Cravings Restaurant at Hotel Delany is slowly taking shape and owner Anthony Hird couldn’t be happier with the renovations so far: “We needed it – it’s been eight years since we last renovated and everything was brown. And dark. We are trying to change our demographic by making it more of a gastro-pub but we will keep some of the pub classics.”

He hopes the restaurant will be open for business later this month. 

Cheese and wine

De Iuliis Wines will host a special dining event on Saturday, July 29: Carne e Vino. From 11am to 4.30pm there will be live music, a meat and cheese demonstration, charcuterie lunch and cheese and, of course, wine. Tickets cost $120 ($100 DeWine Club members) by phoning Emma on 4993 8000, or emailing sales@dewine.com.au by July 14. Transport is available.