Escape to a Scandinavian style hunting lodge at Hunter and Barrel
Opening late last year, Hunter and Barrel is the Cockle Bay, hunting lodge-themed restaurant that celebrates all things grilled, charcoaled, smoked and fired. Filling the space where Chinta Ria used to reside this prime CBD location has been transformed into a light, open plan restaurant with booths, wooden high tables and a small outdoor seating area. Look up and you’ll find a faux indoor garden hanging from the roof while guests have full view into the bustling kitchen. On a warm weekday night the restaurant is filled with suit wearing colleagues catching up over beers and charcuterie boards and small groups of ladies drinking wine and perusing the cocktail list.
We suggest starting with a barrel aged negroni, it’s undergone quite a process. The bar team start by making a negroni with Settlers Gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, then put it in a charred barrel to give it a smokey flavour for a few weeks. They then add some freshly made negroni to balance the flavour, and ta-da you have a very reasonably priced $16 cocktail.
Continuing the smoked and charred theme, the smoked margarita is $28 and served between two. Smashed rosemary, paprika and almond butter are infused with Calle 23 Tequila Blanco, Cointreau and fresh lime. It comes served in a Calle 23 bottle filled with smoke and black salt rimmed glasses. Open the bottle and let the smoke flood out, evoking your senses and adding a vigorous smokey flavour to your tart margarita.
Order with confidence off the cocktail list, a lot of thought has been put into these drinks and being slightly cheaper than the $18 standard Sydney cocktail price means you could probably justify more than one. For beer drinkers you have the choice of many Australian beers in bottles or tinnies. While the wine list has drops from around Australia and overseas.
Tread more carefully with the food menu as dishes can be a little hit and miss. You can’t go wrong with the Hunter’s Platter with assorted cured and smoked meats, egg and pickles. If you go to Hunter and Barrel for a few drinks and this platter alone you’re on to a winner.
Dishes on the ‘From The Coals’ and ‘From The Skewers’ menu come with your choice of any side or salad. We opt for the coal roasted rump and a side of fried potatoes (chips). The chips are golden and crunchy but unfortunately the lamb is more fat than meat and presumptuously served medium.
I was expecting an order off the ‘From The Skewer’ menu meant my salmon would come impaled on a silver spike but instead, three pieces of warmish fish with herb sauce are put before us. Again, we weren’t asked how we’d like it cooked but had it been just a little warmer upon arrival it would have been perfect.
The spicy fried corn with green chilli salt is limp but tasty. The radicchio salad with the parmesan a winner.
Golden syrup dumplings with cream are good but I’d prefer another cocktail to finish my night.
All in all Hunter and Barrel is a fun place with a good post-work atmosphere. The staff are friendly and it’s a nice place to have drinks and a few nibbles. I look forward to taking friends there next time I’m in the area for barrel aged cocktails and cured meats.
Hunter and Barrel
303, Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9264 9888
For further information, visit hunterandbarrel.com