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Relax and Rewind

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Leaves and Fishes restaurant is a hidden gem in the Hunter Valley with amazing, tranquil views and colourful meals that are simply heavenly. 

Surrounded by soothing sounds of trickling water, views of luscious greenery and comfortable, modern, contemporary furnishings the unique features of Leaves and Fishes restaurant are one to experience.  

I cannot begin to describe how serene and relaxing the environment really is. It’s like an escape from reality, like being transported to an exotic island location far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I could have sat their staring off into the calming scenery for hours.

I took a seat at a waterside table after being greeted by some extremely friendly service. I couldn’t wait to see if the food was as incredible as my surroundings. 

The menu offers a range of seafood selections along with some Asian inspired dishes. Paired with some great Hunter Valley wine and some quality company, it’s the perfect location for a tasty lunch or a full-flavoured moonlit dinner.

Following a crisp glass of bercini bolla sparkling Semillon, my beautifully presented entre of fried Cyprian haloumi, pickled Thai eggplant chutney and puffed wild rice arrived. 

The wild flavour of the pickled chutney was absolutely divine. A mouthful of the warm haloumi paired with the blissful taste of the chutney and topped with a crunch of the puffed rice created a celebration of flavour in my mouth. This unique dish was one of my all-time favourite entres.

My main then followed, the Malaysian spiced chicken with coconut cream, candle nuts and kipfler potatoes. Again, the presentation of the dish was gorgeous.

This dish was just as good as my entre, if not better. These little fiery red peppers that topped the dish gave every mouthful a tangy explosion of pleasant, exotic flavour. The chicken was cooked to absolute perfection and I polished off the plate to devour every last bite. 

It was time to loosen my belt as I made room for dessert. I rarely push myself to eat this much, but I couldn’t resist after two courses of delectable goodness.

To finish, I had the tapioca with pandam, caramelised pineapple and roasted coconut. The fresh taste of this dish was the perfect ending to a perfect lunch. After eating so much food, it was great to have a refreshing dessert that felt light and fruity.

The Lovedale restaurant is open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday and dinner Friday and Saturday evenings. If you’re trying to impress your next date or a client or just looking for a memorable dining experience, book a table at Leaves and Fishes. 

For more information, to view the full menu or book a table visit www.leavesandfishes.com.au
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Entertainment

Exquisite Cuisine at Coquun

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Coquun is a modern and elegant café, bar and bistro charmingly situated along the Hunter River in Maitland serving bright and beautiful flavours of the native food bowl.

Not only have they created an absolutely delectable menu of refined, mostly locally sourced cuisine inspired by native flavours; Coquun has also established a unique and welcoming meeting ground for people to come together and enjoy.

Coquun is on Wonnarua country and respectfully acknowledges the ancient history of the land and it’s first people, drawing inspiration from native flavours and customs. Relaxing views of the Hunter River and warm and welcome service from staff makes it the perfect spot for a relaxing breaky or lunch in the sun.

The menu is fresh and modern with a beautiful selection of wines, beer and cocktails to tastefully accompany each dish. My sister joined me on our visit to Coquun on a sunlit Wednesday lunch, and we enjoyed taking in the scenery as we selected our entrée’s, mains and beverages.

Browsing the assortment of cheeses, charcuterie, sausages and smaller plates to start, we decided on the Marinated Olives and the Salt and Vinegar Brussels Sprouts. Never having tried a variation of the traditional brussels sprouts (which my sister and I are not fans of), I was pleasantly surprised to find they were absolutely delicious, with a crispy tang. If you have a fussy kid that refuses to eat healthy foods, this may be a game changer. The olives were also fresh and well marinated; I went through them like popcorn.

We shared the Damper Dip Bowl; we can never seem to go past a damper dip. The toasted damper dipped into a melted, herby cheese was enough to make us both look at each other with our eyes wide with excitement. Needless to say, it was a race to see who got to have the last bite and it was gone within minutes.

On to the Cheese and Bacon Burger with Fries; a classic favourite. Except it was anything but ‘classic’. The beef was a high-end super thick, juicy patty that was absolutely full of flavour. It was the kind of meat that just melted in your mouth. The burger also had a bush tomato type relish that was unique in taste, fresh and a great addition to a beautifully cooked patty. Served with a side of crispy fries, it filled us up quick smart.

We ran out of time for dessert, but we had to mention some of the delicious options. The Dropped White Chocolate Panna Cotta caught my eye with wattle seed and sesame crack, caramelised white chocolate and eucalyptus caramel. And for next time, we have already decided on the Pear, Rum, Ginger Pudding, Caramelised Fig, Honey Macadamia Hunter Valley Gelato.

Our quick Wednesday lunch on our work break turned into a delightful experience that made us wish we could stay for a cocktail or two.

If you’re looking for a lunch or dinner spot this weekend, head to Maitland, take a stroll along the river and make your way to Coquun.

Visit http://www.coquun.com.au to check out their full menu.
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Entertainment

Treated Like Royalty

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With a modern elegance, The Royal Federal Hotel Branxton has created a sophisticated yet classic pub aesthetic that has set the bar high for pubs in the Hunter Valley.

We love a good pub feed here @ The Coalface, and I’ll tell you what…we have done the rounds when it comes to pubs in the Hunter Valley. So, when a pub stands out, we’re not shy about sharing the news.

A stunning, cloudless Friday saw my colleague and I visit The Royal Federal Hotel for an afternoon pub lunch that left us dazed and amazed. Classy, refined and modish, the country pub has skilfully fused a classic pub feel and modernised menu with that of a high-end restaurant.

As you walk through back entrance of the impressive two-story hotel, you’re met with a traditional, classic style bar that encompasses that Aussie pub experience. The beautiful wooden features and exposed brick make it a homely stop for a post work bevvy.

Moving upstairs to the bistro the setting effortlessly shifts towards a more contemporary, quirky and artistic design. Beautiful artworks and private function areas lead you through a quaint little library archway, filled wall to wall with books you can borrow.

We were lucky enough to be seated in one of the available function spaces, a stunning room decorated with empty frames placed artistically along the walls. We sat down at the head of the huge dining table and placed our order.

For starters, we shared the Bruschetta – a toasted sourdough topped with prosciutto, tomato salsa, burrata cheese, pesto and balsamic reduction. Fresh and flavourful, this dish was a delightful way to kick things off.

Then came our entrees and mains. The twice cooked Pork Belly was served with sweet and sour sauce, kumara puree and roast baby vegetables. The meat was tender and succulent, and the puree and vegetables complimented the dish with their vibrant presentation and flavours.

We also had the Seafood Chowder with flathead, clams, squid, prawns, smoked bacon and vegetables served with dinner rolls. The warm soup of fresh seafood and vegetables made for a tasty winter entrée.

Our mains consisted of the Portuguese Chicken, marinated in peri peri sauce with a Caribbean style salad and grilled corn; and the 200g Eye fillet, pan seared with butter, garlic and thyme serviced with potato gratin, greens and red wine jus.

The Eye Fillet was absolutely to die for. The meat was tender and juicy and with every bite I was enchanted. My colleague stole the last few bites and was equally impressed.

The Portuguese Chicken had a peri peri flavoured, spicy kick that was lively and enjoyable. This dish was huge and would be sure to satisfy even the biggest of eaters.

Finally, we shared a Baileys cheesecake. We absolutely LOVED this dessert. The flavours were rich, and the biscuit base was crunchy and delicious. It was the perfect ending to a feast fit for two queens.

The Royal Federal Hotel will be heading into Spring with a fresh, new menu in mid-September 2020 and we can’t wait to see what’s in store.

To make a booking call (02) 4938 1335. To keep up to date with specials and the new Spring Menu visit https://www.royalfederal.com.au/

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Entertainment

Things Really Heated Up at the Blue Flame

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The Blue Flame Modern Indian Restaurant is a hidden gem in the heart of Muswellbrook, introducing a myriad of modern flavours, unique spices and rich aromas.

On top of the delectable range of entrees, mains and desserts, the relaxing ambience as you walk into the stunning Indian restaurant makes it unique and inviting. Located in the restored and repurposed basement of the heritage listed Loxton House, the building is considered to be the oldest remaining building in Muswellbrook.

A former residence built in 1838, the now restaurant features gorgeous stone walls and warm lighting giving off a historic medieval feel, while the furnishing and décor add a modern, sophisticated touch.

The restaurants alluring atmosphere is only the beginning. The friendly staff were timely and attentive from the moment we stepped foot inside and were extremely helpful throughout the night.

Now, onto the food!

My partner and I started with an entrée, the Tandoori Chicken. Available in half and full servings, we of course went for the full serving between just the two of us. When will we learn?

The huge, vibrant dish came out piled with North Indian/Pakistani tandoor roasted chicken prepared with a blend of masala, yoghurt and herbs marinated, also served with mint chutney. The tender, juicy chicken melted in our mouths and the marinated herbs and masala gave it that extra mildly spiced kick. We forced ourselves to save some for tomorrows lunch to allow room for the mountain of food to follow.

Moving onto our mains, we shared the Classic Beef Curry with yoghurt, herbs and aromatic flavours of cumin, garam masala and fresh coriander. The traditionally authentic flavours of this dish were fresh and delicious.

We also dug into the Lamb Korma, a rich, flavourful dish consisting boneless pieces of lamb simmered in delicately mild, spiced cashew cream sauce. My partner absolutely loved this dish and devoured the entire plate leaving me with just one piece to try, but that one creamy, tender piece was enough to see why he loved it.

The lovely staff surprised us with the Chefs Special. The Blue Flame’s Special Lamb Curry was tangy, flavourful and the perfect level of spicy. It’s cooked along with a blend of spices, vegetables, flavours of fresh ginger, garlic and lemon juice. This was my favourite dish of the night, with a unique, zesty flavour that I have never before encountered at any other restaurant. Hard to describe, I suggest you make a booking to try this noteworthy curry.

We paired our curries with a side of rice as usual, and a naan bread that I can only describe as the best naan bread in the Hunter Valley. And trust me, we’ve tried a lot of naan breads. This spinach and cheese naan bread was cooked to perfection with the ideal amount of cheese and spinach filling. We will honestly have dreams about this naan bread until our next trip to Muswellbrook for round two.

The restaurant uses fresh, local produce which really complimented each dish. As a passionate lover of Indian cuisine, the Blue Flame has just moved to the top of my list for favourite Hunter Valley Indian restaurant.

To make a booking, head to their website at http://blueflamemuswellbrook.com.au/ or call 02 6543 2220.

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