Hunter & Barrel Review: Cockle Bay Wharf

Hunter & Barrel has taken up residence at Cockle Bay Wharf in the former home of Chinta Ria and brings with it tasty coal fired meats and barrel aged spirits.

Hunter & Barrel
Hunter & Barrel

Inspired by the hunters way and barrels with craft beverages, the venue by Seagrass Hospitality Group channels a hunters lodge with timbers, solid wooden tables, wine barrels and suspended garden and foliage hanging down from the high ceiling. The semi-circular booths and communal tables give a great view of the action happening in the open kitchen and al fresco dining allows you to take in the views across Darling Harbour.

Hunter & Barrel
Restaurant and Suspended Garden

Barrel ageing is a popular trend in bars and has been for some time so it is interesting to good to see Hunter & Barrel carrying through and creating a marriage between the cocktails and the food. A selection of barrel-aged spirits includes Settlers Gin, a House whisky blend and Spiced Ketel One Vodka. The drinks by Group Beverage manager, Joel Davis are well made, they stand alone and they do pair well with the food.

Hunter & Barrel
The Solera Negroni

The Solera Negroni ($16) is a balance of a barrel aged Negroni  mixed with fresh Negroni that delivers a drink that has a brightness to it with layers of complexity. Negronis are pretty much de rigueur at present but this one is definitely worth a visit.

Hunter & Barrel
The Smoked Margarita

The Smoked Margarita ($28) (serves 2) is fresh and smoky, pairing well with the smokiness of the meats. The Tequila has been infused with smashed rosemary, paprika and almond butter which compliment the flavours of the food. Enjoy the theatrics of a bottle filled with hickory smoke as the Margarita is poured into the rimmed glass with Himalayan salt and cinnamon.

Hunter & Barrel
The Chieftain

The Chieftain ($16), or prosciutto and melon in a cocktail comes with the warning:”Not for vegetarians!!” This is almost an appetiser with a rosemary and prosciutto infused vodka with fresh watermelon and an edible garnish of melon and prosciutto with green watermelon skin. Fresh and to be savoured.

Hunter & Barrel

The Settlers Gin Martini has lovely spice notes coming to the fore from its barrel ageing. This is a perfectly balanced and chilled Martini with the twist bringing out the citrus notes of gin. The night can start here or end here, or maybe both.

A good beer selection with the majority being craft beers, such as the Mountain Goat Summer Ale ($8) features on the menu. To compliment the concise wine list, two Brokenwood Cricket Pitch varietals are available on tap ($10 glass), which at the very least, are equal in quality to what is found in the bottle.

When it comes to the food menu, meat is the hero here, slow-cooked on coal and spit rotisserie to deliver a wonderful char and smoke flavours. The Hunter’s Feast takes the guess work out of choosing and lets you feast on beef rump cap, chicken thigh, pork belly and Wagyu sausage. Then there are rustic dishes such as Goat and Onion Stew and Braised Kangaroo Tail to tempt.

Hunter & Barrel
Hunter’s Platter

Starters feature some great seafood and the Hunter’s Platter ($28) is a generous plate to share while you decide which dishes tempt.  The meats of double smoked ham, salami, Bresaola and Copa are fresh and full of flavour with grain and hot mustards, pickled egg, gherkins, olives and onions as accompaniments them. This assortment of cured and smoked meats varies depending on what is best in season and is a great option to share for up to four.

Hunter & Barrel
Fried Squid

The Fried Squid ($15) is so tender and the light seasoned batter allows the full flavour and texture of the squid to be enjoyed with the spicy bush pepper mayo.

Hunter & Barrel
Chilli Garlic Prawns

Plump Chilli Garlic Prawns ($18) arrive at the table in a cast iron grill with chilli and garlic butter. The chilli delivers just the right amount of heat and does not overpower these tasty prawns.  Do not forget to use the bread to soak up those wonderful juices left in the pan. These really are the best garlic prawns tasted in a long time.

Hunter & Barrel
Grain Salad

This simple Grain Salad ($8) of whole chickpeas, freekeh, barley, lemon, rocket and tahini is fresh and vibrant and makes a wonderful palate cleanser between courses.

Hunter & Barrel
Slow Roasted Beef Rib, Cast Iron Button Mushrooms

No knife needed for the Slow Roasted Beef Rib ($34) as the meat just falls away from the bone. Beautiful in flavour and beautiful in texture, this is a dish to return to again and again. The dish is served with a grilled onion chutney that has whole coriander seed and onion. The Cast Iron Button Mushrooms are full of that rich earthy flavour prepared with a subtle garlic butter.

Hunter & Barrel
Coal Roasted Rump, Coal Roasted Corn

The Coal Roasted Rump ($29) is pink, juicy and tender with the meat sweet in flavour. Chef’s recommendation that it be cooked medium is perfect for this generous 350g rump served with herb and black pepper butter. For serious mains of meat, a weighty Hunter and Barrel knife with solid handle is brought to the table so that you may easily carve.

This sweet Coal Roasted Corn is a must have dish with its light char and flavours from the wonderful caramelised honey and butter. The corn has been already been cut up into pieces. Be aware with this dish, you may not want to share.

Plates ‘From the Coals’ and ‘From the Skewers’ sections of the menu offer the choice of any side or salad. If there are additional sides or salads that tempt, these are available at $8 per dish.

Hunter & Barrel
Chocolate and Marshmallow Roast

Chocolate and Marshmallow Roast ($10) is a take on that campfire treat of the s’mores. Roasted marshmallows cover the sea of molten chocolate which is brought to the surface by digging deep with the biscuits. This is a sweet, warm and very decadent dessert and can be shared among two persons.

Hunter & Barrel delivers on all counts with quality dishes, wonderful charred meats that are fresh and cooked well and very affordable. Service is friendly, be it for a quick meal, an intimate dinner or a fun group and the lodge setting brings it all together. So book a table and watch that sun set in the west.

Hunter & Barrel
Tenancy 303, Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney NSW 2000

About the author

Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke is the Co-Founder of Gourmantic. He was first carried onto a plane at 3 months old. He enjoyed it so much, most of his efforts have been to get back in them to travel. He has lived on 3 continents and in addition to his love of travel and food, he is passionate about wine, chocolate and music.

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