One Sunday morning Big Bear and I headed to the Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre in Gymea for a leisurely brunch/lunch and a bit of peek around the gallery. Specifically, Big Bear and I wanted to check out the recently released exhibition of the work of Australian artist George Gittoes, which you can read my review on here.
Navigating parking is always a bit of a challenge. I’m fairly sure parking is available on-site, which is confirmed on their website, but I had to do a bit of a weird loop around the gallery and the suburb itself to get to it, so instead chose some free off-street parking which was also available.
When we initially arrived we walked straight into a bit of hustle and bustle working out where we needed to wait to be seated and wondering if we were even going to get a table! Okay…so the website does warn us and say that bookings are recommend. I would advise that needs to be amended to say bookings strongly recommended despite the seating being generous. It was seriously busy that morning. The café is definitely a hot spot in the shire with a mix of eclectic people. After a little wait we managed to snag a two seater in their indoor/outdoor area. To me the seating area seemed split up into three – two exclusively indoor and outdoor areas area and then a space in the middle which allows the sun and breeze to come in. This area was perfect for a leisurely, unseasonably warm 25 degree day for this time of year.
After sitting down we were provided with the regular lunch menu and the autumn specials menu. I had a bit of a dig around the menu online before arriving, but the specials definitely tantalised me further. The menu itself is always changing to keep up with the seasons. So what deliciousness was on the seasonal menu? Sirloin with mash and mushroom sauce, red wine beef pot pie, twice cooked pork belly…I ordered the caramelised beetroot, goats cheese and pine nut tart on dressed rocket leaves and Big Bear ordered the wagyu beef burger with hand cut wedges and chipotle mayonnaise sauce, along with a soy cappuccino and a full cream cappuccino.
Upon sitting down we were advised that it would be about a half hour wait for the food to come out as the kitchen was quite backlogged with breakfast orders. We said that was okay and were happy to mill around and chat (always really helpful to be advised of the wait time so you’re not bugging the staff!) Sitting around we noticed a small pamphlet on our table advising us of High Tea. Yum yum! Ribbon sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries (and crème brulee spoon!!) At $29 per person (a bit extra for champagne) it doesn’t break the bank either. After about 5 minutes into the lunch we were presented with our cappuccinos to sit on whilst we waited for our meals. Cutely coloured coded (red cup for soy), the coffees were a good temperature (not too hot) although the soy was a bit too soy and Big Bear said his coffee was a tad bitter.
Red for soy
True to word, about half an hour later our tart and burger arrived. Initial thoughts – immaculate presentation. Despite the wait time, both dishes were beautifully presented which kind of makes you forgive the kitchen staff a bit more.
Caramelised beetroot, goats cheese and pine nut tart on dressed rocket leaves
The tart was a nice sizeable portion sitting on top of a small bed of rocket and decorated with micro herbs. Beautiful flaky pastry, sweet, caramelised beetroot which wasn’t intensely sweet, overdone or gluggy, soft melt-in-the-mouth goat’s cheese, and a decent portion of rocket but not drowning in rocket. I find it’s often tricky to jazz up rocket but this was just enough. The textures of the dish also worked together very well with the softness of the goat’s cheese and the beetroot melding perfectly with the pastry, which surprisingly didn’t become soggy despite all those moist ingredients. Visually, the stain of pinky purple beetroot on the cheese was gorgeous. Safe to say I was pretty full after the meal and impressed despite the wait.
Wagyu beef burger with hand cut wedges and chipotle mayonnaise sauce
Big Bear’s wagyu beef burger came filled with homemade pickled cucumber, swiss cheese and tomato relish inside a brioche bun, and with a side of hand cut potato wedges lightly salted with sea salt and a chipotle mayonnaise dipping sauce (like a regular mayo with more tang). He noted that overall the presentation was lovely – everything was served on a wooden chopping board and arranged in an appetizing manner. I couldn’t help notice the ooziness of the burger and the cheese well on its way towards a delicious melting state from across the table. Big Bear said that at first he thought the wedges were a little under done as they were still quite hard, however, after a few more bites realised that they were not meant to be like your regular store bought frozen wedges. Instead they were more akin to baked potatoes, and mixed with the chipotle mayonnaise he couldn’t get enough!
The burger did attract a little criticism however. Because of its sheer size he wasn’t too sure at first how to approach eating it. The pattie was quite large and although satisfying maybe half its size would’ve been perfect to avoid overpowering the other elements in the burger. The cheese looked very nice but unfortunately got a little lost in the pattie.
Rhubarb and strawberry frangipani tart with vanilla ice cream and poached champagne rhubarb and strawberries
After all that eating and drinking I still had a tiny bit of room left and couldn’t pass up dessert. There were two autumn dessert specials on offer – rhubarb and strawberry frangipani tart with vanilla ice cream and poached champagne rhubarb and strawberries, and classic sticky date with almond praline, butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. Usually I would indulge in the sticky date, but the description of the tart sounded divine.
An elegant presentation of not-too-dense tart with vanilla ice cream, crumble, oozy soaked strawberries and cinnamon rhubarb. We demolished it fairly quickly. All elements worked beautifully together and filled us up. The only small let down was the tart itself, which I thought could’ve had a richer, more show-off flavour.
After a bit of a look around at what the other guests were sampling, I noticed quite a few of them had ordered wine and was a little let down that we weren’t offered the wine menu as a cool glass would’ve rounded off a lazy Sunday lunch nicely. Oh well, next time.
Once you’ve had a little peek around the gallery itself you can also go outside and enjoy the gallery’s beautiful park area which gets transformed into an exhibition from time-to-time and is home to the more weather durable sculptures and installations.
Art class anyone?
The great outdoors
Seasonal. Filling. Art meets deliciousness.
Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre – Café
782 Kingsway, Gymea, NSW, 2227
High Tea: Saturday’s only from 2.30-4.00pm. Bookings essential.
Closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday
Bookings are strongly recommended on (02) 8536 5755