When Monsieur Poisson and I have holidayed at the Hunter Valley, we don’t go out at night. Partly because we tend to visit early- to mid-week when there’s nothing open at night time, and partly because it’s incredibly dark at night and driving on both sealed and unsealed roads can be rather hazardous. Hence us never having visited Rock Restaurant, the region’s only hatted restaurant and a 2-hat status for three years running at that.
So discovering that Rock Restaurant morphed into the more relaxed Firestick Café during the day meant that we were still able to sample the kitchen’s food. Unfortunately both Rock and Firestick have since closed at the end of May 2011, although the Pooles Rock winery continues to operate, so we will not be able to drop in again on subsequent visits. The quality of the food was great and, seriously, how many cafés serve you an amuse bouche?
The little appetite-teaser of ‘Beetroot Lyonnaise with labne on sourdough’ was definitely an unexpected touch. As we were saving room for scones later in the afternoon, Monsieur Poisson and I ordered a small (most dishes were offered in two sizes) portion of ‘Grilled sirloin with wilted spinach, red wine jus, café de Paris butter and hand cut chips’ to share along with a ‘Pizza of confit pork belly, braised red cabbage and pear relish’.
The steak was cooked well and the red wine jus glossy and rich which we mopped up with the chips. The pizza had a light, crisp base with thin pork belly slices whose fat was perfectly cut by the red cabbage. Monsieur Poisson couldn’t resist ordering the ‘Apple and blueberry crumble’ when he spotted it on the menu (big apple crumble fan here), whilst I defaulted to my usual coffee/dessert combination of an affogato.
Firestick Café had decent prices although I’ve heard Rock was much more upmarket. Regardless of the reasons for which they closed, it will be interesting to see if there is a new venture down the line.
Firestick Café – CLOSED
Pooles Rock Winery, 576 Debeyers Rd (near corner McDonalds Rd), Pokolbin NSW