After the sobering and somewhat gruesome tour at Maitland Gaol, it was a relief to arrive at the picturesque township of Morpeth, a once-booming river port. It was interesting to discover its rich history that included the birth of famous businesses Soul Pattison Chemists, Brambles and the Arnotts Family. It was also named after the town of Morpeth in England, which is the same distance from the city of Newcastle over there, as it is over here.
We wandered through the Campbell's Store Craft Centre sampling the homemade fudge, traditional ginger beer and assortment of honeys. Over the road was a sign for the award-winning Morpeth Pie Man. Eleven awards at the Great Aussie Meat Pie competition in 2005? How could we refuse?
The menu behind the pie counter is long and varied, but the selection in the pie warmer is rather limited. "I've sent everyone home" says the man behind the counter with the shrug. "It's been quiet this arvo, I don't know where everyone is."
When I order the lambs fry and bacon pie, he pauses, and for a moment there, I prepare to have my heart broken. He looks at me, then leans forward. "That's my favourite," he says, as his eyes crinkle into a knowing smile.
Lambs fry and bacon meat pie $4
The pie is modest in appearance, but inside its hearty with flavour. Real bacon rashers (rind included) have been crisped on the grill, mixed with chunky slices of lambs liver and awash with a thick meaty gravy.
I'd included Morpeth on our Hunter Valley itinerary primarily to visit Morpeth Sourdough, home of the original Arnotts family and maker of the delicious breads sold over much of Sydney. Plans to tour the original bakehouse didn't quite come to fruitition, but we browse the bakery and somehow find ourselves climbing the stairs into the restaurant. There's a grinning last-minute decision to have lunch there (cue twinge of guilt at consumption of meat pie ten minutes prior) and we settle ourselves at a table on the balcony.
Free range chicken BLT $17.50
with smokey bacon, roma tomato and basil aioli
Our meals take some time to arrive - although the waitress indicates it will only be 20 minutes, our food doesn't appear until 40 hungry minutes elapse (pie? what pie?).
The free range chicken BLT is a sight to behold. Spilling its way across the plate, it's a mountain of tender chicken breast, bacon rashers, tomato and lettuce on two doorstops of chargrilled sour dough bread.
Crab, chilli and leek linguini in rich tomato sauce $25.00
The crab, chilli and leek linguini is also generous in portion. Silky ribbons of linguini are swathed in a sweet tomato sauce that is studded with crab meat and surprisingly intense on the chilli scale (about a 9/10 on my fairly heat-friendly chilli palate).
Crostini of grilled sourdough baguette $12.50
with confit garlic, tapenade and dukkah
With my meat pie still being digested in my belly, I'd ordered the crostini of sourdough, a perfect way to appreciate the true star of the restauant: its bread. The chewy crust, toasted surface and dense but fluffy insides is delicious on its own, but it's hard to resist the sideshow of condiments, a dollop of salty olive tapenade, a coarse and nutty dukkah and the sweet mild cloves of roasted garlic.
Campbell's Store Craft Centre
175 Swan Street, Morpeth, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 4933 1407
Thursday to Sunday 10am-5pm
The Morpeth Pie Man
2 Green Street, Morpeth, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 4936 6265
Morpeth Sourdough Arnotts Bakehouse Restaurant
148 Swan Street, Morpeth, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 4934-4148
Wed, Thu and Fri 11am-3pm
Sat and Sun 10am-3pm
Thu, Fri and Sat from 6pm
Related GrabYourFork posts:
Hunter Valley 2008/1: Maitland Gaol tour
Hunter Valley 2008/2: Morpeth Pie Man and Morpeth Sourdough
Hunter Valley 2008/3: Dinner at the Newcastle Travelodge Hotel
Hunter Valley 2008/4: Vineyards and cheese tasting
Hunter Valley 2007/1: Cessnock
Hunter Valley 2007/2: Vineyards, cheeseshops and an olive centre
Hunter Valley 2007/3: Lunch at Harrigan's Irish Pub
Hunter Valley 2007/4: A vineyard, cheeseshop and beer brewery
Hunter Valley 2007/5: Dinner at Chez Pok
3 comments - Add some comment love
9/28/2008 11:32:00 pm