The Head Chef is Michael Bolam, formerly of the very highly regarded Shakey Tables Restaurant also in Pokolbin, he also worked as Chef de Partie at The Ledbury in London.
We were a bit concerned that dining at 7pm on a Tuesday night might be a bit quite and we could be the only table there. Luckily we weren't, there were 2 other tables of 2, and another of 4.
We went to the restaurant for my birthday last November, in it's former guise of Chez Pok, and since then they have undertaken a fair bit of work, refurbishments, new paint and furniture.
For dinner the options were a 2 course ($55 pp) or 3 course ($75 pp) dinner, or a 7 course degustation dinner ($95 pp or $130 pp with matching wines).
We opted for the 3 courses, our choices were:
House baked bread with Pukara Estate Olive Oil, Balsamic Reduction, Dukkah, the bread was very moreish
Entree - Steamed Scallop & Yabby Lasagne with Shellfish Cappucino, Curried Cauliflower - Mr Mel is a seafood fiend, he adored it, I love yabbies, so I was happy with my taste too, I though the shellfish cappucino would be a bit strong, but it was very understated, lovely
Main - Charred Lamb Loin, Roast Cutlet, Smoked Potato Puree, Minted Pea, Baby Carrots - Not a huge serving, but very tasty, the lamb was a little bit over the medium rare Mr Mel ordered, but not terribly so, you could taste the smoked potatoe puree before you ate it, it filled your mouth with a very rounded smokey taste, and the minted pea was scrummy
Dessert - Ginger & Orange Rice Pudding, Burnt Butter Icecream and Citrus Madeleine - Very nice, a piece of the citrus madeleine on top of spoonfull of the rice pudding & icecream was the perfect mouthful, crunch with soft and creamy
Entree - Roast Breast of Duck, Broccoli & Brussels, Truffle Cream, Muscatels - Melt in your mouth duck, and a good sized portion, the truffle cream & muscatels were lovely
Main - Binnorie Labna filled Courgette Flowers with a 'Risotto' of Butternut Pumpkin - Mr Mel & I shared a plate of Kipfler potatoes, with rosemary and a toffee crunch, which we both found a bit sweet with the lovely potatoes - I love labna, and the courgette flowers were very nice, while not a huge serving, 3 smallish flowers, they were very tasty, I wondered when we ordered if the 'Risotto' was a 'real' risotto, it wasn't a rice dish, it was small cubes, maybe 2 mm by 4 mm in size, of butternut pumpkin, a new texture for me, but with me being a pumpkin freak I adored it
Dessert - Spiced Carrot Cake with Pumpkin Icecream and Housemade Shortbread - I had this dessert for my birthday under the Chez Pok banner, the pumpkin icrecream wasn't as pumpkinny as it was in November, but was still a winner, the carrot cake is lovely
Wine - Margan Verdelho - very nice, one of our favourites, from Margan Wines at Broke
With it being Mr Mel's birthday I took along some candles asked the waitress if they would mind putting them on Mr Mel's dessert. Well of course he orders rice pudding, hard to stick candles in that, so the kitchen sent out a large slice of the carrot cake with sparklers and candles, free of charge. A lovely touch.
Before our entrees were served the chef sent out 2 lots of tastings:
- Cured Trout with Creme Fraishe
- Oysters Beignet with Wasabi
When we asked for the bill we were given another unexpected gem, a cute treasure chest that contained:
- Marco Polo Macaroons with Marco Polo cream - delish, apparently Marco Polo is a tea, will be trying to track some down!
- White Chocolate & Olive Oil Truffles in Bitter Chocolate
- Strawberry Jellies rolled in a citric acid that made your mouth literally water
Have to give special mention to our waitress (is that the PC term?), she was an absolute delight, very approachable, knowedgeable, and attentive, she made a great night all the better.
All in all a terrific night, we left very happy, and very full, after a 3 hour graze. We weren't shocked to read that they won Best Restaurant in a Hotel in the Hunter Valley Region.
9/10 for Restaurant Sanctuary :-)
View the Restaurant Sanctuary Dinner Menu
Or the Restaurant Sanctuary Degustation Menu
Till next time (and Happy Birthday Mr Mel xxx),
Mr Mel & I were paying diners, this post has not been endorsed or sponsored by Peppers or Sanctuary