Inspired by his adventures around Europe, Luke Tilse aimed to bring a little quirkiness to the modern Australian food scene, opening The Happy Wombat in 2014. Its diverse and unique appeal, combined with a drive to hero Australian food and drink, means that this restaurant and bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxed meal.
Luke has worked within the hospitality industry for more than 13 years. His first venture was Tilse’s Apple Truck Cider, where he used fresh apples from his family’s orchard at the foot of Barrington Tops. This dedication to locally sourced produce continues at The Happy Wombat.
Given Luke’s experience is primarily in front-of-house roles, he paired up with Head Chef, Shane Kirby to create a menu focused on Australian food, beer and spirits. Shane runs a friendly but precise kitchen and has contributed to the ongoing success of The Happy Wombat, having been with the business since day one.
The front-of-house staff are just as warm and easy going, and Luke himself is often seen chatting with the customers. Although The Happy Wombat is laidback and casual, the food is nothing short of extraordinary.
A contemporary Australian menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner is on offer seven days a week. Start the day with a delicious breakfast of house-made granola; Spanish eggs baked with tomato, chilli and chorizo; or a classic eggs
Benedict. Pair any of these with the high quality, ethically sourced Toby Estate espresso blend and settle in for a relaxed morning.
For lunch and dinner, choose from an extensive menu that recreates humble food in a modern way. Choose between the 300g grass-fed Hunter Valley scotch fillet nestled on a bed of mushroom risotto and dressed with red wine jus, or the crispy prawn sliders served with wasabi mayo and coriander. Vegetarians are able to choose from a wide range of dishes, and little ones are well catered for too, with meals like ham and cheese pizza, and fish and chips.
Once the sun goes down, the restaurant’s strong emphasis on Hunter Valley wines and Australian craft beer makes for the perfect place to kick back after a long day.
The relaxed energy of the venue creates an inviting atmosphere for anyone and everyone. The Happy Wombat aims to be a ‘jack of all trades’, excelling in all areas of food, service and ambience, including live music performances on the weekends. From being a place you can unwind, to somewhere special you can hold a celebration, there’s something that will appeal to everyone.
Luke and the team have plans to open a new ‘mini-café’ nearby in Newcastle, championing their passion for coffee. In the meantime, pop in and burrow down for a meal at The Happy Wombat.