To celebrate Dan’s birthday, we enjoyed a long lunch at Leaves and Fishes in Lovedale, Hunter Valley. This place had been recommended to me a few times and we were not disappointed. The setting here is beautiful, peaceful and we had a great view over the lake.
We were able to get a corner table outside right by the water, as I had said on the booking that we were celebrating a birthday. The menu was presented in a tin case which I loved. We were given an amuse bouche of Thai fish cakes after making our selections.
To start I chose the pulled pork and prawn egg net, with fresh Asian salad and cucumber relish which was absolutely wonderful – although huge! This honestly could almost pass for a main course so I was careful not to fill up on it. It was really tasty though, so this took some restraint!
Dan chose the popcorn calamari, with chili ginger caramel and szechuan spiced salt which had a great spicy tang to it. Again, this was a generous serving for a starter but it actually tasted a lot lighter than other calamari he’s had before and was really fresh.
For the main course I chose the ‘real fish and chips’ which was made with barramundi. This was served with sweet malt and tartare sauce. This was huge! I had 3 bits of medium sized battered fish and enough chips for about three people! But, this is a special occasion, so I gave it a good go! The batter was light and non greasy, and the fish just fell apart and flaked. It was delicious but I have to admit I couldn’t finish all the chips.
In fact we ended up feeding the carp in the lake with some of them. There are also baskets of bread around the tables outside which are meant for the fish and boy do they go crazy for it! It provided much entertainment for us and the table next door.
For his main, Dan chose the grilled duck breast with onion puree, kipfler potatoes, dutch carrot and licorice which was presented so beautifully! There is more food on this plate than it looks, with the meat and potatoes and Dan nearly did finish the lot. The meat was a little overdone but overall still a tasty dish.
After some deliberation – and a bit more bread throwing – we decided to indulge in desserts too. This is when I went back to what I know best – the cheese platter. I had a sheep’s milk selection with cracker bread, sourdough (which I was a little too full for), pecans and slices of apple. Devine! I could barely move afterwards!
Dan chose the affogato which if you’re not familiar, is vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso and a liqueur – Dan chose the orange liqueur. This looked great and I tried a small mouthful. The taste of coffee was strong and as was the theme of the meal, portions were big so there was a lot of liquid going in. He did very well though!
This was such a lovely afternoon, and we ended up spending three hours gently going through each course, sharing a bottle of wine and taking in the views and atmosphere. Definitely one to try if you’re visiting the Hunter.