“Buddy! Here you go! Slip that into you,” our jovial waiter exclaims as he hands over our cocktails.
Drawn from a six-strong list of New York-style margaritas - not quite what I expected to be drinking in Tamworth - The Harlem ($15) and The Soho ($15) are straight-to-the-point cocktails. With no salt rims, ice or garnishes to navigate, they’re big glasses of crudely combined liquor – tequila and triple sec – turned with watermelon juice to represent the northern Manhattan neighbourhood of Harlem; and with ruby red grapefruit juice to reflect the bitter proclivities of trendy Soho fashionistas.
While normally I prefer a bit more elegance, there’s something about a spiked fruit juice that works on a hot day, particularly when you’re sitting in a light-filled glass house set inside the town’s Bicentennial Park.
You’ll find Hopscotch Restaurant & Bar overlooking the whizz-bang $2.2 million Tamworth Regional Playground. While you can order from their outdoor kiosk and hang outside with your kids, I reckon the cutting-edge playground is close enough that you could legitimately parent from an indoor table with a quaffable cocktail in hand.
Owned by business and life partners, Dwone Jones and Jay Lynch, Hopscotch is a daytime affair with a menu more geared towards café-style dishes.
They do make a point of buying local, sourcing the Piallamore beef for their Steak Sandwich ($20) from about fifteen kilometres away on the road to Nundle, and the tomatoes it’s served with, from Guyra, north of Armidale. The Angus eye fillet is teamed with pickled onion, creamy farmhouse Cheddar, mixed leaves and mustard on fairly standard toasted Turkish bread, accompanied by a big helping of skinny fries.
Made with locally cured lightly peppered beef, smoked ham and (sadly unmelted) provolone, rounded out with pickles and remoulade, the lightly toasted Cuban ($16) is a bit more Miami nice than it is Havana spice. I suspect though I might be missing the point. Maybe if I had kids, this family-friendly spot would win me over on proximity to playground and alcohol?
Hopscotch Restaurant & Bar
Tamworth Regional Playground Bicentennial Park
Corner Kable Avenue & Hill Street, Tamworth
Ph: (02) 6766 8422