Quince is in an old house with a very open-plan layout, complete with white pressed-lead ceilings, lime-green walls and a blood orange feature wall, just off the main drag in Scone. Lots of interesting and appropriate art decorates all the walls and the toilets are absolutely first rate. The tables are wooden planks on metal legs, the chairs great and the service is hospitable. Although everything else works, one comes here for the food, which is simply divine. Rarely have I eaten this well in the country! The bread is fantastic, and the dips, olives and olive oil are good. But it is the main courses that really shine. Try the little ‘boat’ pasta and you’ll be blown away and the ‘Miso Soup of Roast Szechuan Beef, Scallops and Buckwheat Soba Noodles’ managed to be the ‘Australian Gourmet Pages’ Dish of the Month for March 2006! No mean feat! This is a fabulous dish where the deep, dark, masterstock-like flavours of the soup and the perfectly rare and spicy beef marry with the wonderfully crisp textures of just cooked greens and the gelatinous, but bitey noodles. Congratulations on a wonderful dish and thank you for some very real, old-fashioned hospitality… oh, and the desserts are pretty bloody good, too!
Chef: Jason Larsen
Owners: Jason Larsen and Anjela Hjorring
Address: 109 Susan Street, Scone NSW 2337
(opposite Railway Station)
Tel.: 02 6545 2286
Jenkins Street Guesthouse
The Jenkins Street Guesthouse is a big house with common guest facilities downstairs and guest rooms upstairs. It used to be an old bank and the kitchen used to be the vault. The building is solid, with lots of brown tones, heavy country furnishings, polished wooden floors, good knick-knacks and some good art. It’s comfortable and relaxing. Try and get one of the two rooms with the lovely wide, old veranda. Beds may only be Queen size but the rooms are tastefully decorated (watch for mosquitoes though). The restaurant downstairs, Cha Cha Cha, alas is less successful. The chef is capable of getting the food out on time, but the dishes are fairly ordinary. I am surprised that the quality of the meat is as pedestrian as it is. I expect better meat in the country. The wine list is equally without any excitement and although the hospitality is good the execution is inept. Coffee names are misspelled on the blackboard menu and the chairs are by far the worst I have ever sat on.
Nevertheless this is a good country place to stay in. It's in a really pretty village, the showers certainly have good water pressure and the rooms have great views; just don’t expect too much from the food.
Score (for the restaurant): 5/10
85 Jenkins Street
Nundle NSW 2340
Tel.: 6769 3239
Roth’s Wine Bar
Are all wine bars dark and slightly seedy? Well this one might be at first, but once you enter the courtyard you are surrounded by light and shaded by a beautiful tree, wooden benches add to the country atmosphere. They serve a dozen or so wines by the glass, more by the bottle and have a good list of beers to boot. An old-fashioned vinyl 60s and 70s DJ on Friday night rounds off the picture and some simple bar food keeps you more or less sober.
Roth’s Wine Bar
30 Market Street
Mudgee NSW 2850
Tel.: 02 6372 1222
Murrurundi is one of the prettiest spots in the Upper Hunter and a perfect spot for a stop. This picture postcard town is also the home of Kristy & Luigi Papagni who run the fabulous Bacco’s Bakery. They specialise in biscuits and crispbreads and they really know their business. Stock up on your way through town!
13 Mayne Street
Murrurundi NSW 2338
Tel.: 02 6546 6822
High Valley Wine & Cheese Co
If you come into town from Cassilis you can’t miss the High Valley Wine & Cheese Co. The vineyards are actually situated at Dunedoo, so it’s opportune to be able to taste them in Mudgee, which is probably much more accessible. John Grant produces very good fresh and aged cows’ and goats’ milk cheeses on the premises! I especially like the various marinated fettas, the inimitable Santa Capra and the fabulous fresh goats’ curd. Stop, try and enjoy.
The High Valley Wine & Cheese Co
137 Cassilis Road
Mudgee NSW 2850
Tel.: 02 6372 1011
Merriwa Cakes & Pastries
The historic town of Merriwa oozes rural charm and it seems that all the people you meet are friendly. Visit the Visitors’ Centre and you can ogle old tractors and a beautiful 1949 Ford Prefect (in working order and registered) or even buy a handcrafted, extra large, black and gorgeous teddy bear called ‘Black Jack’ for your collection. But all this fossicking for treasure can make you hungry, and Merriwa Cakes & Pastries, right across the road, is just the spot to help you out. The pies are great, especially the bacon & cheese, and the coffee is city quality.
Stop and enjoy the sunshine and follow your nose to the pastries!
Merriwa Cakes & Pastries
Tel.: 02 6548 2851
Broombee Organic Orchard & Vineyard
Barrie and Gwen Corner run this organic orchard and vineyard. All their wines are organic, and they produce a Shiraz, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon Blanc. But it’s the Pinot Noir, which, although just a drop in the ocean, is rather terrific. It is concentrated, fruit forward, low-yield but rather hot and quite alcoholic. It’s the savoury notes underpinning the fruit that lift this wine from good to very good. Note: their wines are organic, not just the fruit! Their orchard produces stone fruit but is of course at nature’s mercy; they had no crop at all for sale last year as part of it was destroyed by rain and the rest by heat.
RNB16, Sydney Road
Via Mudgee NSW 2850
Tel.: 02 6373 1314