Wingham is a little off the beaten track if you’re heading north on the Pacific Highway. Those who do opt to take the twenty-kilometer detour will find a picturesque town set around a town square containing Central Park. In the park you will see a huge log that pays homage to the area's woodcutting period. Facing the park you’ll find a number of historic buildings, running from a 1907 Victorian-style School of the Arts to an 1884 state heritage-listed Post Office. Despite the architectural beauty, Wingham is a sleepy place that seems to have escaped much of the adaptive reuse that often reinvigorates heritage towns.
Despite this there is one food business worth looking at: Bent On Food. It is run by Donna Carrier, who grew up in the region, and is a staunch advocate for locally produced food and wine, as you’ll easily ascertain from her menu and well-stocked shelves.
The product range is a particular standout; with products I’ve rarely seen, like pear and calvados jam, to ones I regularly covet, like Barefoot Farm’s amazing pecans from their farm in Eltham. The shelves and soft rainbow of mismatched chairs give the room a retro general store aesthetic. On the room’s chalkboard, and on the menu itself, Bent On Food, name their local suppliers.
I’m chuffed to see my favourite Germanic butcher, Mentges Master Meats from neighbouring Taree, is supplying the bacon, ham and kranksy. In the Bent on Food Big Breakfast ($19.90), they have morphed this spicy sausage into a breakfast-friendly offering with a clever diamond cut that offers more charred surface area. Rudi’s bacon also impresses - you'll find it buried underneath the pale and fairly flavourless Idlewilde eggs. Mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes round out this packed but not ridiculously proportioned plate.
For a less overwhelming breakfast Free Range Eggs ($12) are presented any way you like them on toasted local sourdough with spinach and Bent On Food’s own tomato relish. You can supplement this dish with your protein (or proteins) of choice, with Mushrooms ($4) catching my dining companion’s eye.
Spicy Corn Fritters ($18) caught my eye. They turned out to be the American-style deep fried versions, rather than the pancakes this dish usually entails.
With fluffy interiors, the crisp sweet corn fritters went quite well against Rudi's bacon, poached egg, sliced avocado and compelling puddles of bush tomato chutney.
Doppio or Nothing coffee from Port Macquarie on the coast scrubbed up all right in a strong Flat White ($4.50) but was fractionally burnt in my Piccolo Latte ($3.50). While I like that it’s local, it’s not a coffee I’d rush out and purchase. The lure of a small onsite farmers market every Tuesday however will probably drag me back to this cafe, which is arguably the best in the Taree/Manning Valley region.
Bent On Food
95 Isabella Street, Wingham
Ph: (02) 6557 0727