To many, Andy and Janet Wright need no introduction. They are the husband and wife team that has presided over The Cellar Restaurant in Pokolbin these past 18 years – making it one of the finest restaurants around. Now their new venture The Wood Restaurant is one of the most talked about hot spots in the Hunter.
Born in the UK, Andy grew up fully immersed in the restaurant scene in London, working at various hotels and restaurants as well as being the Head Chef at the House of Lords before deciding to move to Australia in 1996. Once in Australia, Andy took on the Sous Chef role at the Nikko Hotel, Darling Harbour before moving to the Hunter Valley where he worked as the Head Chef at Roberts Restaurant and later Pipette at Cypress Lakes and Seasons Restaurant at Hunter Valley Gardens. He and Janet then became part owners of The Cellar Restaurant, before taking over entirely in 2005.
After almost 18 years, when the opportunity came to sell The Cellar Restaurant and take on The Wood restaurant at Brokenwood Wines new state of the art cellar door facility, the culinary couple jumped at the chance, with Andy as executive chef and Janet managing front-of-house.
Catering for up to 90 guests, the Wood is in a word ‘unique’ with a menu that is focused on contemporary Australian dishes cooked in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven and with local produce where possible.
The refreshingly diverse and well thought out menu provides for nibbles, entrees, mains, salads, sides and desserts, with a strong emphasis on locally sourced seafood and fish. But, there's also a selection of poultry, red meat and vegetarian dishes. Something for everyone.
Menu favourites include the creamy centred, crisp coated salt cod fritters with tarragon mayo – perfect for nibbling on with your favourite glass of wine.
Amongst the choice of entrees is Queensland prawns with preserved lime curd, sumac and pomegranate and the whisky cured salmon, with fresh raw razor back prawns, horseradish yoghurt and pickled shimeji mushrooms.
The tempting selection of mains include a choice of Market fish in an Asian broth flavoured with soy, ginger, garlic and shiitake mushrooms; 250g Wagyu 6+ sirloin with smoked bone marrow with hand-cut chips, café de Paris butter and jus and Andy's signature dish the eight-hour slow-cooked Great Southern lamb shoulder with roast kumara, pickled shallots and grains.
Open for lunch daily and dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings, The Wood is by far one of the most central and most convenient spots in the Hunter to go for a meal and is up there with the best in regional dining.