Bacchus, Greek god of the grape and wild parties, is the namesake of this Newcastle restaurant where polished service, a refined, French leaning menu and fantastic cocktails go hand in hand
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The old Central Methodist Mission building had been everything from a church to a performance space for Dame Nelly Melba in 1927, before falling into disrepair in the 1980s. You can almost see the groups of Novocastrians in the dress circle, holding their silk gloves and smoking roll-your-owns while waiting for a dance. Bacchus, however, has taken the enormous room and run with it, keeping the integrity of the original space, as well as adding a bar (blasphemous!) and cocktail lounge. Cocktails, by the by, are properly excellent. The classic, straight-shooting list by bar manager Andrew Clifton-Smith is all about a perfect Manhattan served in a tiny iced coupette. Or a bitter-sweet Martinez. They’ll even do you a frosty, herbaceous Hanky Panky if you ask for it. Chef Timothy Montgomery dishes up an equally polished menu of French-ish, modern Australian dishes like roast duck with roast Jerusalem artichoke and duck oysters (those slippery, dark little medals of meat found just under the thigh). A sticky treacle torte with gingerbread ice cream and poached quince is a perfectly balanced mix of spice and sweetness. And when it turns out the kitchen has run out of the day’s side dish, he very quickly whips out freshly pod green peas with tiny pieces of speck. Nice one. There’s a lot to like at this restaurant. The incredible wine list with a really banging by-the-glass selection (hit the organic petit Chablis chased by a half bottle of red Burgundy, if you’re feeling fancy) is one of the most interesting outside the Sydney city limits. Service is pin-drop perfect and the food is excellent.