What does one do when they are a squillionaire with multiple business ventures, lives in the middle of nowhere, and wants a place for meetings? One buys a 24 acre property and builds a man-made dam that is more lake-sized and adds a restaurant of course, and then throws in a bakery and nursery to complete the project. And so it was for John Singleton, entrepreneur and Mt White residen; he wanted an affordable and unpretentious restaurant near his Central Coast home so he could get a good feed and have a place for lunch meetings. I don’t think he even cared if people attended the venue, he had a place for himself. Instead what has happened is Mt White is now on the culinary map and demands road trips to check out this sublime restaurant, SADDLES.
I had a Spooning the Central Coast week last month and it kicked off at this bush haven. Big thanks to This is the Central Coast and the venue for hosting me for lunch.
SADDLES is a destination venue inspired by its surrounding bush landscape. I felt like I needed Jack Thompson reciting Banjo Patterson while I dined. The 10 hectare (24 acre) property situated in Mt White takes inspiration from the craftsmanship of Heath Harris, an artisan saddler who has worked with John Singleton in crafting saddles for his nearby Strawberry Hills Stud. Harris designed unique saddle chairs for the dining room’s brass-scalloped bar. Said saddle chairs are only about $4k each – so clean your kids before you put them up to pretend they are on one of Singo’s horses.
When you arrive you’ll be seduced by the old meets new elegance and craftsmanship of the venue and surrounds. Linen curtains are recessed into an Ironbark beam and held back by double-jointed brass bits. The brass-scalloped bar is topped with leathered granite. Wall-mounted cast iron bathroom sinks have a stainless steel rim. Gorgeous brass pendant lights that hang from the eight metre-high ceilings are custom and the longhorn chairs come from Singo’s house! Ironbark panelling and bannisters were acid-washed to give the venue an aged distressed appearance.
And let’s not forget the indoor and outdoor sandstone open fireplaces with leather couches for lounging with cocktails or post-meal ports. The indoors are huge with a giant open kitchen. Everywhere you look is something that will impress, even the toilets demand a viewing.
My favourite part of the venue was sitting outside on the monstrous deck, near the fireplace, overlooking the dam. Besides the chatting of other guests it was pure serenity.
SADDLES is opened for both breakfast and lunch, with dinners on Fridays. The restaurant and bakehouse is operated by Cameron and Hayley Cansdell. Together, they own other Central Coast establishments including Bombini Restaurant at Avoca Beach (review coming soon) and Fish Dining at Point Frederick. The menu is modelled on Cameron’s simple and ethical approach to food; ulitising the best local and seasonal produce, along with heirloom varieties cultivated from the onsite kitchen garden at Saddles.
Being a bakery as well as a restaurant has a lot of benefits that will see me returning for more. The menu I would describe as rustic French meets Australian farmhouse fare. Breakfast meals on the list for future visits include Walnut, Chocolate and Cinnamon Brioche and the Cured Ocean Trout with Poached Eggs, Herb Salad, Trout Roe, Sourdough & Crème Fraiche and I really need the Grilled Blood Sausage with Brioche Cheese & Bacon Bun and Fried Eggs. I am literally drooling while writing these dishes!
Lunch consists of Small Plates, Large Plates and Sides – with Desserts later on. One my mum would insist on ordering would be the Crumbed Lambs Brains with Mayonnaise, Celeriac, Globe Artichoke & Capers and one I will have in my life is the Puff Pastry Tart with Caramelized Onion, Roast Fennel, Goat’s Cheese, Basil and Tomato. For the mains again one mum would scream for is the Rabbit Pie with Thyme, Carrot & White Wine and potato puree. A dish they serve for both breakfast and lunch is one I really need – I should have got it takeaway while there – Pork & Fennel Sausage Roll with Salad and House Made Sauce.
But my menu choices I took from my fantastic wait person – these were her faves…..
WHAT I ORDERED:
Lemon Myrtle Spritz – Moore’s Gin, Distillery Botanica Lemon Myrtle Liqueur, Prosecco Palloncino
Saddles Charcuterie – Duck Terrine, House-Made Pork & Fennel Salami, Pickles, Quince Preserve and Cloth-Bound Aged Cheddar
Roast Little Hill Farm Chicken with Eschalot, Peas & Sugar Snaps, Brioche & Almond Crumb (I had this with a 2017 Valentine Riesling from Yarra Valley).
Almond & Coconut Meringue with Passionfruit and Cream
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Firstly the drinks list: It’s impressive, not too big but more than you need. And the wine…..everything is available by the glass! I loved that! If only I wasn’t driving!
The combo of the Lemon Myrtle Spritz with the Charcuterie was heaven. The Charcuterie was small but at only $26- it was perfect for one. Everything on the plate was delicious, the pickled onions, terrine and cheese won for me.
The flavours of the chicken dish were impressive, I would never usually order the chicken at a venue, I am always paranoid about it being dry, and the only thing that disappointed of the entire visit was that the chicken was actually a little dry. It wasn’t like eating sawdust but it lacked an impressive amount of moisture. But thank the sauce for saving the chook, I nearly licked the plate clean, the crumb added a wonderful texture to the sauce. I will try this again because if it wasn’t dry this would have been a 5 Spoon venue.
The desserts at SADDLES are all going to be impressive considering they are a bakery. The pavlova was what you would expect. Light and fluffy with good texture and crunch from the meringue with epic sweetness from the passionfruit. And at only $6!!! for desserts you could nearly order three of them haha. Next visit I will have the Lamington with Daintree Estate Chocolate and/ or Italian Donuts with Spiced Sugar and Custard……and…..drooling again!
Put it this way, if I ever get married before I hit the retirement home, this is the place I will be wed. The venue, the service, the remote location and the food – all big ticks from me. It is less than an hour from Sydney’s CBD, so really, no excuse for a lunch trip but make a booking, it’s the “it” place to go on the Coast at the moment. And checkout my first review trailer below – I hope to be making more of these from now on.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 2/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 1/1 bonus
PH: 02 4370 1152
20 ASHBROOKES ROAD, MT WHITE NSW
PRICING: Very Affordable – the most expensive meals ar $36- for the Ocean Trout or the Chicken Dish in the Review
Daily: 8am – 5pm
Friday: 8am – 8pm
TAKEAWAY: Coffee and items from the bakery I would assume
LOCAL DELIVERY: NO
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Most definitely – but it is quite fancy
For more reviews of Central Coast Restaurants – check them out HERE