One of the region’s great restaurants, with a deep exploration of the best of local produce and wine, Charred is built around Lucifer, their custom charcoal stove, and the talents of chef Liam O’Brien and sommelier David Collins. Go immersive for the tasting menu, or perch at the bar to snack and pick through the vast wine list, with around 40 available by the glass.
The nuts & bolts
Orange, a scenic three-hour drive through the Blue Mountains from Sydney, is both a hub for the wine region it centres and a dining destination in its own right. You would be remiss not to stop at Charred Kitchen & Bar when in town. It is not a steak house, as the name might suggest, but a wine-centric dining room dedicated to local growers and winemakers.
Orange-born chef and co-owner Liam O’Brien worked at Sydney hotspots Bentley Restaurant & Bar and Bistro Moncur before returning to his home region to open Charred in 2016. At the heart of his menu is a custom-built charcoal oven that’s aptly named Lucifer. Cowra lamb rump is slathered in honey rosemary marinade before its turn on the flames, and baby zucchinis are charred then topped with goat’s cheese, mint jelly and lemon.
A four-course tasting menu comes in at $100 per head, but those looking for a simpler session are welcome to drop in for a glass of something and a snack in the bar area. Here you’ll also find house-made, barrel-aged negronis on tap. The general vibe is exposed brick, wood panelling and wine racks inside, and a pot-plant-lined courtyard that seats 30 more outside.
Sommelier David Collins oversees a 95-page drinks list laden with local producers and imports, including decanter-friendly reds to complement the kitchen’s smoky flavours. Bordeaux is well represented (divided by Left and Right Banks), as are big-hitting Australian cabernets from the likes of Cullen, Moss Wood and Mount Mary. Of course, it is the Orange-made wines that are truly at home here – perhaps a chardonnay from Hoosegg, a new Philip Shaw label from his pioneering Koomooloo Vineyard, or a Bloodwood shiraz.
There’s also a strong selection of 40-odd wines by the glass. Orange hangs its hat on chardonnay, so look for local labels like Patina and Ross Hill, and sparkling wine is a natural extension – nearby winery Colmar Estate holding its own against the lone pouring Champagne from Bollinger. Keep an ear out for impromptu tastings, too. Collins is inclined to open a bottle or two for visitors who haven’t made it to all the cellar doors on their list.
Now, as you might imagine, all those wines take up a lot of space. Luckily a new dining room centred around wine display and storage is currently in the design stage. Even if you couldn’t possibly try every bottle on the phone-book-sized list, you might at least sit among them.