Down by Cockle Bay Wharf is a hidden gem called Hunter & Barrel, which showcases firebrand coal roasted meats and barrel-aged cocktails. The wilderness themed decor is quite striking, taking advantage of the gazebo-like shape of the restaurant and high ceilings. There’s a mix of seating options available too, from comfy leather booths to high, long tables for group sittings. The bar also stretches across the whole of the back of the restaurant, which shows you how seriously they take their cocktails.
We started off our meal with a couple of their seafood entrees – first up were the flavoursome Chilli Garlic Prawns that were still sizzling in the cast iron skillet. Large, fresh and succulent – each of them were beautifully infused with the chili garlic marinade. We mopped up the rest of the delicious sauce with the sourdough slices on the side.
Chilli Garlic Prawns, $18
We also tried their Mussels, which had been steamed in a smoked porter in a light, creamy broth. There were quite a few mussels packed into the small pot and topped with chopped tomato and herbs. I found the first few mussels were well-balanced and delicious, however the mussels towards the bottom of the pot tasted more briny as it soaked onto the broth.
For mains we went with the Hunter’s Feast ($38 pp for 2 people), on the recommendation from the staff. The feast for 2 allows you to sample 4 different types of meats and cooking methods, complemented by your choice of 4 generously sized sides or salads. When the meat platter came out, it seemed a little small for the price but we seriously underestimated how filling the whole feast was when you added in all the sides. The Beef Rump Cap was quite impressive and buttery soft, while the Crispy Pork Belly packed a punch with a tasty house-made fermented chilli coated onto the crackling. The Wagyu Sausage was also tasty, while the coal roasted Chicken Thigh was tender, if a bit less flavoursome compared to the other meats on the platter – easily remedied by dunking it in your condiment of choice on the side (seeded or Dijon mustard, their housemade chutney or more of that fermented chilli!)
Hunter’s Feast Meat Platter, $38 pp for 2
We got a good mix of sides and a salad to go with the meat platter – the most interesting side was the Grilled Cauliflower with a creamy garlic sauce, while the healthier Grain Salad (freekeh, barley and chickpeas) balanced out the Cast Iron Button Mushrooms with garlic butter and the indulgent Jacket Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives which we struggled to finish off.
Hunter’s Feast Sides – Grilled Cauliflower, Jacket Potato with Sour Cream and Chives, Cast Iron Button Mushrooms and Grain Salad
For dessert, we shared the Golden Syrup Dumplings which were served with pouring cream for extra decadence. These were chewy nubbins with caramel notes from the golden syrup and are best reserved for those with a serious sweet tooth.
Golden Syrup Dumplings, $10
The “barrel” part of the restaurant’s name is played up with their selection of barrel-aged cocktails. For extra smokiness, I went for The Connoisseur, which showcases Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum which is carefully aged in a barrel with bitters and then served over smoke with freshly pressed green apple juice. The little flagon it came served in actually had a few tendrils of smoke coming out of it which was a nice touch. The boy opted for the Solera Negroni, which was one of the nicest Negronis we’ve ever had – the barrel ageing process really rounds out the flavours of the Negroni, but when it is mixed with a fresh Negroni, it creates a special hybrid cocktail that has all sorts of flavour dimensions we’ve never tasted before in this cocktail.
The Connoisseur and The Solera Negroni, $16 each
For a more refreshing cocktail, you can’t go past the Devoted Squire which showcases their barrel-aged Settlers gin, with delicate notes of orange blossom liqueur, fresh cucumber, apple and lemon juice for a zesty twist.
The Devoted Squire, $16
Hunter & Barrel is a restaurant with a vision and sticks to it through its extensive menu of both food and drinks, which are executed brilliantly. With its unique fitout and stunning decor, it’s a winner of a venue for all types of dining right on the harbour- date nights, business lunches and group gatherings.
Excuse Me Waiter dined as guests of Hunter & Barrel