As you traverse the New England region, you need to keep an eye on the time, because lunch hours are reasonably inflexible. We found this out the hard way, travelling between Walcha’s public art sculptures and Dobson’s Distillery. We arrived just shy of their advertised two o’clock lunch cut-off only to find the chef had already left.
Giving up the idea of lunch and a leisurely gin tasting, we returned to Uralla where a tip from textile artist Helen Evans at Chaucer On Bridge Street (where you’ll also find her son making amazing ceramic art) led us to Top Pub.
Painted matt black, it's actually a pretty cool pub, with some interesting points of difference, including an upstairs boutique. Called Shop 2358 for the town's post code, it contains a well curated collection of neutrally toned clothing, tan bags, jewellery, accessories and homewares to fit the fashion-conscious country lifestyle.
Back in the bar, the locally-minded drinks list affords me the opportunity to try the gin I was keen to sample at the distillery. The only difference is here the bartender is obliged to whisper the word tonic to it, because this pub is apparently not allowed to serve a straight spirit on ice (thank you Liquor & Gaming NSW). The resulting Dobson’s Gin ($8.50) is dry and lemony, a classic style that best would suit a martini. Dobson’s Sweet Pea Gin ($9) plays with the same butterfly pea flowers that Ink Gin uses up the road in the Northern Rivers. Flavoured with mandarin, tangelo and grapefruit, this iteration is a summery citrussy drink that I’d probably prefer as a Gin’n’Juice (using pink grapefruit juice) rather than a G+T.
It'd make the perfect sipper to take in their pet-friendly beer garden that’s dripping with greenery.
As you’d expect,with the brewery right next door, Top Pub are also serving the New England Brewing Company range. This turns out to also be handy because the brewery, which I was also intending upon visiting, isn’t open on a Sunday. I wash off the road dust with their Pale Ale ($8) that is lightly hopped and fruity with hints of mango and passionfruit. I also sample their Thud Footy Ale ($8) that comes in a can and is bigger on hops and lighter on fruit, so a bit less appealing.
With late lunch greed we kick off with a tall pile of Garlic & Rosemary Bread ($8) that eases the hunger pangs but turns out to be superfluous to our needs when we receive our pub-size mains.
The Barker’s Creek Pork Cutlet ($34) made with moisture-infused Aussie pork, is so large, we could have shared it. The kitchen lays down a generous splodge of roasted garlic mash, piles on buttered baby beans, slaps down a cutlet crusted in macadamia, honey and apple, crowns it with caramelised onions and encircles the lot with a sticky balsamic glaze. Three bites in, and I’m already trying to push back our planned dinner so I can really get stuck in.
Thinking I was ordering a more modestly sized dish, I’m stonkered by the sheer amount of chook in the Chicken & Mushroom Crepe ($21). It’s been cooked in creamy white wine and garlic sauce and grilled under a mountain of cheese. Even the fairly standard Greek salad that accompanies it is decent eating. I can see how this pub got its name...
23-27 Bridge Street, Uralla
Ph: (02) 6778 4110