The Cellar Restaurant
Hunter Valley Gardens Village, Broke Rd
02 4998 7584
Centrally located in the heart of Pokolbin, The Cellar is one of the Hunter Valley’s original restaurants, where excellent food and passion for produce run abundant.
It’s home to a bustling kitchen, which combines seasonality and fantastic flavours to create high quality meals made with love.
In 1996, owners Andrew and Janet Wright moved to the Hunter Valley from the south west of London. Andrew’s journey into cooking began as a young boy, helping his mother in the kitchen. He worked at a local Italian restaurant before completing his apprenticeship in 1983. Moving through several London hotels, he found himself running the kitchens of J Walter Thompson in Mayfair before taking the reins of the dining room at The House of Lords.
“The Cellar was a big move,” he said. “The restaurant has only had two other chefs in its 37 years of operation. Janet and I are now 16 years in and finally we feel part of its heritage.”
Andrew’s food is simple and rustic: “I let the ingredients speak for themselves. I believe the quality of the produce is the most important aspect of any good meal”, he said. “As a child, I spent summer holidays travelling around the Mediterranean with my family. My memories are always of the food first, then the surroundings! They do it so well there – two or three ingredients only, a splash of quality olive oil – it’s all you need”.
The menu at The Cellar is vast yet easy to navigate. Share a smallgoods platter – Spanish cured meats are served with pimentos, fennel and smoked paprika salami, lamb pithiviers with tzatziki, as well as jamon Serrano, terrines and more. For mains, the eight-hour slow braised Milly Hill lamb shoulder is a must, while the pan-fried halloumi served with pumpkin ‘cigars’, beetroot, charred eggplant, sumac, tahini yoghurt, pomegranate and watercress is sure to please vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
There’s also the option to try something from the chargrill to be cooked to your liking, including the organic Tassie hanger steak or the pan-fried barramundi. To go with this, there’s a vast array of sauces to be enjoyed, from a rosemary jus to saffron rouille.
For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a great selection of seasonal desserts. Sample the devilishly delicious black forest gateau ice cream, served with brandy snap ‘cigar’ and chocolate sauce, or the Eton Mess – vanilla pannacotta with meringue, strawberry jellies and sprinkles.
With a focus on locally sourced wine, The Cellar Restaurant is well equipped to help you choose a pairing for your meal. Extensive yet well considered, the wine menu has something for even the toughest wine critic. “My aim is that all the wines featured can be purchased at the local cellar doors” said Janet. “I have also thrown in a few overseas comparisons to keep the locals interested.”
If you’re looking to impress a loved one with a romantic date by the fire, The Cellar Restaurant is the place for you. With Andrew’s dedication to treating local produce with care and respect, and the sophisticated ambience of the restaurant, it’s no wonder The Cellar Restaurant has won so many awards within contemporary Australian food culture.