The Cottage Restaurant in Scone, NSW is one of those places that take you by surprise. With service, food and ambience that would be right at home in the capital cities, this restaurant sets the bar for the Upper Hunter Region.
And for you city slickers expecting nothing but hay bails for seats and ute tailgates for tables, here’s what the countryside can really do!
Like so many rural towns and villages in Australia, Scone, NSW has a hidden secret that I wish more people knew about. In fact, this little town has quite a few tricks up its sleeve – but for now, let’s just focus on the food!
Mrs Romance and I were in Scone recently for the Annual Scone Horse Festival. It sounds a bit random until you discover that Scone (pronounced like ‘stone’ never ‘skonn’) is in fact the second biggest horse stud centre in the world!
Apart from seeing this equine extravaganza, we were excited about our visit to Scone’s newest restaurant The Cottage. A quick glance online at the menu told us this was going to be a meat feast and that stretchy pants were to be the call of the day.
We were not wrong.
The end of the meal saw us swaying and staggering down The Cottage’s front garden path hefting our full bellies along with us. But let’s skip back to the beginning of the meal.
Cue a Wayne and Garth flashback… flashback… flashback…
We enter the restaurant and the young staff welcome with the kind of enthusiasm that you only find in the country. Everyone in Scone’s so bloody friendly!
In fact Head Chef and co-owner Colin Selwood comes out to have a chat and to show us the restaurant’s secret weapon: they have their own meat hanging and aging room!
The star of the show on the restaurant’s menu is certainly the beef – pristine and dry-aged right here on site. But the real diva is the wagyu, which is a relatively new addition to the menu here. By the time we’re sat down, my mouth’s watering and my tummy’s gurgling.
With a view to eating as much meat as possible, Mrs R and I vote for a shared entrée.
After that it was every woman and man for themselves!
The Cottage, Scone
From the specials menu, we had the fresh caramelised figs with jamon and parmesan. This was really delicious – though we just wished there’d been more figs. That’s the hazard of sharing an entrée I suppose!
The figs were juicy and the crunch from the caramelisation danced with the soft jamon and the bite from the aged parmesan.
Mrs Romance rolled up her sleeves and got stuck into the 400g Sirloin on the bone with hand cut chips and a café de Paris butter that made me want to launch a raid on the kitchen with a spoon!
The steak was cooked perfectly, and tasty chips were crunchy and soft at the same time.
I just had to have the wagyu brisket from the specials menu – though I think they might be making this one a permanent fixture in the a la carte soon. It’s steamed for 5 hours then finished on a chargrill.
The brisket was so tender a small chunk actually fell off on the way from the kitchen. This meat is eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head delicious. I’d say it’s the best steak I’ve ever had.
The corn polenta, which had pieces of corn through it, was creamy and delicious. And the smoky beetroot puree was a very clever addition. Top marks for this dish!
We also had a side of kale, organic quinoa and red cabbage slaw with caramelised pecan dressing, which managed to be fresh, healthy, indulgent and filling all at once.
Already full but keen to take our server’s recommendations, we delved into the sweets with slightly glazed-eyed gusto.
Mrs Romance was sold on the Pavlova. It didn’t look that big when it arrived, but the sumptuous cream and firm meringue filling did the trick.
I went for the salted caramel ice cream and dark chocolate sorbet bombe. I chose wisely. Gooey, luxuriant, yet chilled and fresh, this was a real delight. I’m not usually a sweet eater, but this was excellent.
In the moments between happy mouthfuls during dinner, we took in our surroundings. The Cottage has been renovated beautifully, yet its traditional 1860s aesthetic has been kept intact.
To be able to stand out on Scone’s main street is no mean feat; the grandeur of the art deco frontages lining the street is most impressive. Even the old Civic Cinema, which has fallen into disuse and dilapidation, retains its old beauty as one of those striking country monuments.
There were so many good points to our meal at the Cottage. The professionalism of the staff, the quality of the food, the lovely atmosphere – there was a big group of people enjoying themselves here, an elderly mother and her grown-up son dining there, a young couple on a date across the way… it was a great mix of patrons and not an unhappy face amongst them.
The Cottage, Scone, NSW
Perfect for: romantic meal for 2, catching up with old friends, a family meal – even if it’s just you and Mum!
Open: Tues-Wed – dinner only. Thurs-Sat – lunch and dinner
196 Kelly St
There are so many factors that make the city and the country such different places – but there’s one thing that will always draw them together. Good food. And if there were ever a perfect reason to move to Scone, NSW, this would be it!
What’s the best steak you’ve ever had? Have you ever visited a place only to discover a dining revelation you weren’t expecting? Tell us in the comments!