Eating Out – Hunter Valley’s best restaurants and cafes

Eating Out – Hunter Valley's best restaurants and cafes

Amanda’s on the Edge

A cherished local institution, Amanda’s on the Edge has been feeding locals and visitors for over two decades. A family affair that spills into the sumptuous garden in summer and retreats into the cosy dining room with roaring fire in winter, Amanda’s offers refined modern bistro fare with a strong list of local wines. And if lunch ends up being longer than anticipated, you can book one of the three cottages and stay the night as well.

A: 1039 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: (02) 4998 7900
W: amandas.com.au

Bistro Molines

Robert and Sally Molines are Hunter Valley legends. Literally. Such has their contribution been to the Hunter’s gastronomic culture that they were inducted as Hunter Valley Living Legends in 2018. Robert is originally from the South of France but has lived in Australia since 1968, and in the Hunter from 1973. Bistro Molines is one of the Hunter’s most highly regarded restaurants, and it has one of the valley’s most spectacular views across the vines at Tallavera Grove. The food is refined but unfussy, with inspiration from Robert’s homeland and spectacular local produce on equal footing.

A: 749 Mount View Rd, Mount View NSW 2325
Ph: (02) 4990 9553
W: bistromolines.com.au


Located in Spicers Guesthouse, Éremo is Executive Chef Cameron Matthews’ contemporary take on Italian cuisine. The menu is compact, offering seasonal antipasti, hand-made pasta and pizza, with meat and fish from the chargrill. A degustation option will cover most options. The wine list is also of special interest, with depth of both producers and vintages from the Hunter and other key wine regions of Australia and Europe.

A: 57 Ekerts Rd, Pokolbin Hunter Valley NSW 2320
Ph: 1300 590 075
W: spicersretreats.com

Esca Bimbadgen

Bimbadgen winery’s striking 1960s bell tower is one of the Hunter’s most recognisable modern landmarks. Situated on a hill that makes for spectacular views (Bimbadgen is said to mean “place of good view” in the local first nations language) from their acclaimed Esca restaurant, the focus here is on local produce, with a reasonably priced five-course degustation menu, and matching estate wines only costing an extra $30. There is no à la carte option in the dining room, but wood-fired pizzas are available for lunch in the courtyard and hampers can be purchased for a leisurely picnic.

A: 790 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: (02) 4998 4666
W: bimbadgen.com.au


The first solo venture for local chef Frank Fawkner, EXP. was launched in 2015 after he had worked in kitchens from the age of 15, including a stint in London with Michelin starred chef Tom Aikens. Fawkner’s food is very much cutting-edge modern Australian fare, dabbling with fermentation, native ingredients and cross-cultural influences. This is one of the Hunter’s best-loved and most exciting restaurants, and you can even take a perch at the bar and watch all the kitchen action. Next door is Fawkner’s café, Fawk Foods, where you’ll find the same level of care taken with the more everyday offerings, plus a range of excellent sourdough and pastries to take away.

A: 2188 Broke Road, Pokolbin 2320 NSW
Ph: (02) 4998 6585
W: exprestaurant.com.au

Great Northern Trading Post

Laguna is described as the gateway to the Hunter. Well, that’s if you’re coming from Sydney, but it’s also worth a detour if you’re heading down from up north. The Great Northern Trading Post is a legendary café/restaurant/bar/store and has one of the few petrol bowsers for miles (it also has Tesla chargers). The café is open every day and dinner is served on Friday and Saturday nights. While much of the Hunter is about conspicuous glamour, the GNTP is all about rustic charm, and it has charm to spare. The food is some of the best in the region, and there are no formalities in the corrugated iron shack that also hosts live music regularly. If Rod Stewart’s your thing, then it’s off to Roche Estate, but if Casey Chambers or Harry Hook are more your speed, then GNTP is the place to be.

A: 3718 Great North Road, Laguna NSW 2325
Ph: (02) 4998 8244
W: gntp.com.au


Harrigan’s is a sprawling hotel in Pokolbin, with 48 simple but well-appointed rooms. It also houses most other things one may expect from a large country pub, with a sports bar, beer garden and bottle shop. It also offers two food options, the more dining-focused bistro, with a roll call of pub classics, and the burger bar, which serves a wider selection of food than the name suggests. Flights of craft beer are also available for those who can’t choose from the large selection of local brews on offer.

A: 2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: 1800 800 522
W: harriganshuntervalley.com.au

Muse Kitchen & Muse Restaurant

There are two Muse restaurants, Muse Kitchen at Keith Tulloch Winery and Muse Restaurant at Hungerford Hill winery. Muse Kitchen is the less elaborate of the pair, described as a “European bistro style restaurant”, with a set three-course menu, but with à la carte choices and sides and starters as optional extras. Muse Dining ups it to four courses, with oysters and cheese (not together) as optional extras. Fine dining is the order of the day, and the compact wine list of the sister is swapped out for a longer and more broad ranging selection. Local produce drives both menus.

W: musedining.com.au

Restaurant Botanica

Botanica let’s Spicers’ Executive Chef Cameron Matthews flex his fine-dining muscles. While the food at Éremo (at Spicers Guesthouse) talks in a modern Italian accent, Botanica, as the name suggests, is built around produce, and produce that was “picked fresh that morning” no less. The restaurant only seats 25 with a three-course minimum but offers à la carte options for each course. Vegetarian and vegan options are available. While similar in structure, the wine list at Éremo curiously delivers more variety.

A: 2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: 1800 800 522
W: harriganshuntervalley.com.au

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