Dining Review: Moor Newcastle East

FLAVOUR: Moor Newcastle East's ricotta gnocchi with confit tomato, peas, almonds, chilli, lemon and herbs. Pictures: Simone De Peak
FLAVOUR: Moor Newcastle East's ricotta gnocchi with confit tomato, peas, almonds, chilli, lemon and herbs. Pictures: Simone De Peak

Moor, 33 Hunter Street, Newcastle East, moornewcastleeast.com, 4023 7096, Tuesday & Wednesday 7am-4pm; Thursday- Saturday 7am-late; Sunday 8am-3pm

The eateries in Newcastle’s east end are an eclectic bunch. If you’re hungry and heading out for a meal you can choose between seafood, modern Australian, pub grub, Mediterranean, fine dining, cheese, burgers and plenty more.  

Since opening in March 2015, Moor has added a North African-Middle Eastern flavour to the mix. There’s some splashes of Spanish in there too for good measure. 

ANYTIME: Moor is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Thursday-Saturday.

ANYTIME: Moor is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Thursday-Saturday.

It’s a big space – plenty of room inside and out, which is great for all walks of life – groups, solos, couples, families, prams and furry friends. It’s also very laid-back; take a seat and when you’re ready, head up to the counter to order. 

Breakfast and lunch are all-day affairs. Enjoy the 100 mile breakfast with locally-sourced poached eggs, avocado, feta and sourdough at 2pm, or start the day with a beautiful bowl of ricotta gnocchi. The coveted coffee is roasted by Marvell Street Coffee in Byron Bay.

GOING STRONG: Graham Sincock co-owns the cafe with Shane Brunt.

GOING STRONG: Graham Sincock co-owns the cafe with Shane Brunt.

As well as bustling through the day, Moor offers up dinner three nights a week. On Thursday it’s tagine and BYO night where you can choose from two freshly made tagines ($15), rice or couscous ($5) and flatbread ($8).

On Fridays and Saturdays it’s an a la carte selection of flavoursome and fun dishes. I say fun because I actually managed to get excited about Brussels sprouts, but more on that later.

At dinner it’s table service and enthusiastically so. The dishes are made to be shared – it’s great – you can try more of the dishes on the menu.

We begin with manchego chips, avocado wedges, fresh lime and aioli. And why wouldn’t you? They’re delicious. There’s no potato in these chips, just gooey wonderful manchego. Crumbed. Fried. Piping hot. The avocado wedge comes fried too. This treatment makes it extra creamy and a sprinkling of Aleppo pepper adds a clean heat. With scoops of garlicky aioli and fresh lime for zest, the chips are gone in no time.  

I always associate lamb with tagine cooking, so the slow cooked lamb with herb and pistachio couscous, roasted heirloom carrots and labna is a no-brainer. After hours in the pot, it truly is melt-in-your-mouth, fall apart, fatty, rich, moist lamb. It sits on the nutty couscous and is hidden under a pyramid of dark, crispy-tailed roasted baby carrots. There’s creamy labna and sprinkles of currants and pistachio crumbs. The whole dish is earthy and grounded. 

To complement our meat, we must get a veg. The scorched Brussels sprouts sound too fascinating to ignore. With endamame bean hummus, mint, chilli and sumac, these scorned vegies of our youth go from reviled to revered. They are caramelised just beyond brown to charred which faces off against the fresh mint and chilli. I never thought I’d like these greens so much. Really tasty.

Dishes are fair in size. Between the two of us, we could have polished off another side, but we head for dessert instead. Four hot crispy churros with rich chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream are light and sugary. A perky tower of citrus pudding is decadent with a poached cinnamon pear, candied orange peel and clotted cream. 

The cafe’s atmosphere and approach all day long is relaxed but knowledgeable and the food is always more-ish. 

QUICK BITE

The essentials

  • What: Moor Newcastle East
  • Where: 33 Hunter Street, Newcastle East. 
  • Contact: moornewcastleeast.com. 4023 7096.
  • Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday 7am-4pm; Thursday- Saturday 7am-late; Sunday 8am-3pm
  • Chefs/ co-owners: Graham Sincock and Shane Brunt
  • Drinks: Cocktails $16; Wines $9-11 glass/ $38-48 bottle; beer. BYO Thursday night only ($6 corkage). 
  • Vegetarian: Plenty.
  • Wheelchair access: Yes, but not to toilet. 
  • Bottom line: Dinner plates $9-36; Breakfast/lunch  $8-22.
  • Do try: Manchego chips.