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Maitland firmly on foodies’ map


May 9, 2019 by admin

Nestled between Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, Maitland is increasingly making its mark on the foodie map. Its first wine bar has opened in recent weeks, adding to the bursting stable of dining and drinking options in the city.

There is the old: The Old George and Dragon in East Maitland has operated on a site that has fed hungry travellers since the early 1830s.

Then there’s the new: Fox Bar opened in recent weeks and is said to be the city’s first small bar.

That’s not to mention the new eatery and function centre to open in October in High Street’s Mansfield House under the direction of 305 Restaurant and Le Fleuve Brasserie’s Dan Kibble and Christine Harrison.

Fox Bar was opened a few weeks ago after well-known hospitality stalwart Will Creedon (of Rustica and many other ventures), Jennifer Nichols, owner of The Old George and Dragon, and designer Stephen Troy teamed up.

At 274 High Street, Maitland, the joint venture fills a gap in the Maitland entertainment scene. The building is owned by interior designer Troy, and has been granted a licence to operate as a small bar.

The front bar has been decorated in an eclectic mix of furniture, while there are cosy nooks that invite friends to get together, as well as an outside courtyard area perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon or meeting place for a work lunch.

The bar specialises in boutique and craft beers, has a wine list focusing on Hunter Valley wines and a boutique spirit offering.

Fox Bar head chef is the enthusiastic Miami Bragg, while the executive chef is industry stalwart Gavin Forman (of The Old George and Dragon).

The hearty menu is available for lunch and dinner, and ploughman’s and cheese platters are available all day.

It includes Creedon’s pick of the menu, the lamb shank pie, which is a hearty lamb shank and winter vegetable casserole served with a flaky crust. It comes in a serve for one ($19) or two ($35).

Creedon told GT he’d had his eye on Maitland for ‘‘quite some time’’.

‘‘I’ve had the very strong feeling in the last two years that Maitland is a great centre and it services a lot of people very well, but it doesn’t necessarily service those who look for the finer things,’’ Creedon explained.

‘‘When I say look for the finer things in design, look for the finer things in garden, the finer things in beverage – be it wine, beer or spirits – and the finer things in food.’’

He said while Maitland looked after young people ‘‘really, really well’’ there was the opportunity for someone to offer something ‘‘a little bit different, a little bit deeper, hence I think the opportunity of … creating a little bar called Fox Bar was a natural thing.

‘‘Maitland over the last year and a half has had a smattering of really good restaurants and eateries open … if you think about Maitland, there’s a little bit of a revolution happening,’’ Creedon said. ‘‘It’s really good to see. I suppose Fox Bar in a way is another part in that process, another stage in that revolution.’’

Creedon said the name was a nod to Maitland’s affinity with the natural environment and agriculture. He admitted to a few nervous moments for the team behind the venture, but said already the Maitland community had embraced the concept.

‘‘People recognise we’re in need of support,’’ he said. ‘‘In the first few weeks of operation there’s no question people have given their support with their marching feet – it’s wonderful to see and they realise it’s for them and it will only be for them as long as they keep coming.’’

Nichols agrees Maitland is making its mark on the map to become a destination for eating and drinking, alongside nearby Morpeth.

‘‘For a long time we haven’t been seen as a dining destination but I think we’re all trying really hard to make that happen,’’ she said. ‘‘We’re all listening to what the public are saying in terms of wanting more experiences and we’re hoping that we’re giving it to them; we’d just really love the public to embrace it.’’

Though Nichols now splits her time between Fox Bar and The Old George and Dragon, she said the fine-dining establishment would continue to serve customers for dinner Wednesday to Saturday.

“While The Old George and Dragon will continue to delight customers with a fine-dining experience, Fox Bar is a more casual format,’’ Nichols said. “We have been offering lunch on a Friday at The George, but due to its long history as a special occasion restaurant, the lunchtime option was pretty hit and miss.

‘‘When the opportunity came up to be part of Fox Bar, it was the perfect complement to what we do at The Old George.”

Fox Bar is open from 11.30am to late Tuesday to Saturday and 11.30am to 6pm Sunday. For more information visit foxbar苏州美甲学校.au.

Also keep an eye on the Mansfield House site at 315 High Street, Maitland, in the coming months.

305 Restaurant and Le Fleuve Brasserie’s Dan Kibble and Christine Harrison have teamed up with Chris and Tom Richards to transform and restore the beautiful heritage building.

Kibble told GT the former bank building would be relaunched in October to include a fine-dining restaurant similar to 305, a function and wedding centre, as well as an oyster bar, upscale wine bar, daytime al fresco dining and more. There are also plans to add a four-star boutique hotel next year.

305 Restaurant will shift to the new site under the name epique, Mansfield House (meaning surpassing the usual or ordinary), and Le Fleuve Brasserie will remain open as is.

Bronte Richards will be at the helm of the wedding and function centre as event and function co-ordinator of Mansfield House Events.

‘‘The building is absolutely stunning,’’ Kibble told GT. ‘‘For us it is a really great opportunity … It’s a really big project for central Maitland, we’re really, really excited about it.

‘‘For Maitland it’s amazing, you don’t see people doing things like this very often and a lot of the time they don’t have a lot of chance at success either.

‘‘This has just been a well thought-out project and the people behind it like myself and Chris and Tom have put a lot of time and effort in to make sure it’s going to be something positive.

‘‘To be sitting right on High Street, the potential is absolutely amazing for promoting Maitland and all the positive things about this area.

‘‘That’s what is fantastic about this, you see the Maitland Mall and all these terrace buildings that have been sitting there for five years … and over the next couple of years hopefully we’ll see an evolution.’’

In the meantime, before epique, Mansfield House, throws open its doors, you can visit 305 Restaurant and Le Fleuve Brasserie.

305 Restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday.

Le Fleuve Brasserie, which offers casual dining with more than 100 wines on the list, is open daily from 11am.

Will Creedon, Miami Bragg and Gavin Forman outside Fox Bar.

Chris, Bronte and Tom Richards, with Dan Kibble and Christine Harrison in the front room of Mansfield House.


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