This time we were delighted to find that Taree now has their very own fine-dining restaurant called Y.not. It is run by a couple called James and Lisa Hendry. They've recently moved back to Australia from our neighbour across the Tasman, New Zealand, where they had a waterfront restaurant in Auckland. They felt that this sort of cuisine was lacking in many regional centres, so have brought their expertise to bear on Taree.
The cuisine is eclectic - think European with influences from all over south-east Asia. The chef describes it as "comfort food with flair!" The meat seems largely imported from Sydney (a slight shame, as the neighbouring Gloucester produces lovely black Angus beef) but the seafood seems to all be locally produced.
We started with a Martini ($14) in the small bar area, and then moved over to our table. I had quite a hankering for some local oysters, so three of our party shared the Oysters Y.not Trio ($28.00 / dozen). This was a delightful mix of three types of dressings - a Japanese one with wasabi mayonnaise, an Italian one with salsa verde and a Thai one with nahm jim. The Japanese style were my favourite because they had the perfect balance of enough wasabi to taste (something so often NOT the case in Sydney), but not enough to drown out the flavour of the rather lovely Manning River oysters.
Not being an oyster eater, one of our party had a separate entrée of Salmon and Scallop Parcels ($16.90) which were filled with smoked salmon and seared scallops, and wrapped in a light filo pastry. The underlying mesculun greens were dressed in a mango dressing, and the whole serve was quite substantial.
The mains were all very substantial. The most substantial, and possibly the best main I tried, was the Venison (33.50). There were five large pieces of lovely venison grilled and served (with great height) on a bed of roast chat potatoes and finished with a rich, creamy beef and wild mushroom sauce. The recipient struggled to finish it all, but it was so good, not finishing it made him feel very guilty!
My partner's mother whose taste is generally a little more plain than ours, was very happy with her Italian Lamb Cutlets ($27.50). She received five beautifully cooked lamb cutlets that were crispy on the outside, and super moist inside on a bed of potato gnocchi in a creamy garlic, bacon and mushroom sauce (much more mild than the first sauce). Often the restaurants we choose don't really suit her dining preferences, so it was great to see that this restaurant catered both to our requirements for exotic and tasty food, and hers for simple, recognisable food!
Next up was the Gamekeepers Trio ($25.50) which was three different sausages - one of wild boar with native thyme, one of venison with red wine, and one made of buffalo. They were served on a bed of mash and drizzled with a beef and red wine sauce. These sausages were made from scratch by the chef, and they were quite amazing - in fact the closest I have tried in Sydney are the offerings from Hudson Meats which are currently winning my 'best sausage' award.
My own choice was the night's special of Lobster with Prawns ($29.50), on a lemony bed of paella. When I asked where the lobster was from I was pleased to find it was local, which is what convinced me to order the dish (after all, who wants to eat frozen lobster). Whilst it was nice, it was probably the weakest of the four mains basically because the lobster was slightly overcooked.
When we booked, we told them it was my mother-in-law-to-be's birthday, so they surprised her with a large slab of quite nice Tiramisu ($10.00) complete with candle. If you can make them out in the photo, there are also glittery birthday decorations all over the table - nice touches I thought!
This is the Lime Sorbet ($8.00) - a lovely zingy and fresh sorbet, complete with grated lime zest in it. I couldn't resist sticking my finger in the questioning plate decorations and was shocked to find genuine fresh rasberry coulis - house made. I expected Mynor Strawberry Topping! Unfortunately off the menu on the night we attended was their Margarita Mousse ($10.00) based on the infamous Tequila cocktail. Well I suppose there's a reason to return on our next Taree visit!
We also got a complimentary Irish Cream Mousse ($10.00) which was rich and delightful. Service was warm and well-meaning. Some allowances need to be made for the young staff, as this is Taree's first restaurant of this calibre.
The wine list is mostly Australian and New Zealand wines - I liked the Secret Stone Chardonnay ($8/glass, $40/bottle) and the dessert wine Hardy's Padthaway Noble Riesling ($8/glass, $42/bottle) the best of the wines I tried.
All up, a great experience for dining in Taree, and an evening enjoyed by four people with diverse tastes and dining requirements. I hope they're still there next time we need to drive north to visit the folks!
18B Pulteney Street, Taree NSW
Ph: (02) 6552 4700