Crystalbrook Kingsley, the luxury Newcastle hotel that we’ve written about in a separate post, promotes itself as “culture meets art meets culinary delight”. It’s the culinary delight I’m interested in as we take the lift to the Roundhouse restaurant on the top floor, built on top of the former Council Administration Centre during its transformation into a stylish hotel.
Roundhouse, named for the local nickname given to the iconic 1970s building, is reached via the original heritage elevators. Guests step out of the lift to panoramic views from the restaurant and Romberg’s bar (named for the original architect).
It’s a beautiful space, designed to give the impression of dining in an olive grove, with floor to ceiling windows and a glass ceiling allowing abundant natural light, potted olive trees between the tables, transparent olive-coloured drapes, timber floorboards and a carpet of swirling olive and earthy tones. By night you’ll see lights twinkling on the harbour; by day it’s a working port with plenty to see from this eyrie on the ninth floor.
Executive chef Matthew Smith presents a modern cuisine with an emphasis on local and native ingredients. Using local products such as Hunter Valley beef, Pukara Estate lamb and Port Stephens seafood, he draws on European influences and techniques, complemented by ideas picked up during his travels in Japan. My entrée of dry-aged kingfish sashimi with golden beetroot, daikon and ponzu was a great example. It was delicious in its simplicity and a surprisingly generous serve.
Indigenous ingredients such as quandong, wattleseed, finger lime and Davidson plum are highlighted in many of the dishes. My main course of Honey and five spice duck breast was complemented by a delicious quandong and plum sauce. Maurie’s entrée, exquisitely cooked quail with Dutch carrots and hazelnuts, also had a touch of quandong.
The restaurant aims to source 80% of its ingredients from within a few hours’ drive, and it makes a conscious effort to source products that are ethically produced and packaged. This focus on sustainability has led to a partnership with Margan Wines, which pursues a similar ethos at its vineyard and winery in Broke, NSW. We enjoyed Margan’s 2019 ‘Ceres Hill’ Barbera, a bright and elegant medium-bodied wine that went particularly well with the duck.
With the Hunter Valley on Newcastle’s doorstep, it’s not surprising that Hunter Valley wines feature prominently on Roundhouse’s extensive wine list. The restaurant and adjacent Romberg’s bar turn out some amazing cocktails too, many of them created around native ingredients and given names like Yuroongkal, Nikkinba and Garrembee.
Breakfast in Roundhouse was one of the best hotel buffets we’ve had in a long time, with a huge choice of fruit, yoghurt, coconut chia pudding, cereals, cold and hot dishes, all attractively presented. Once again, local ingredients are highlighted, with labels denoting the source, such as Udder Farm full-cream milk.
If you go:
Roundhouse restaurant and Romberg’s bar
Level 9, 282 King Street,
Newcastle NSW 2300
+61 (0)2 4928 8600
With thanks to Crystalbrook Kingsley Newcastle for hosting our dinner in Roundhouse. If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read our separate post about how this classic 1970s building was transformed into a stunning luxury hotel.