Bianca: Now maybe this is just in my house but my dad, whenever there is some cleaning to be done, will head outside, seconds later we’ll hear the whining of the leaf blower. These days it’s the equivalent to the pool rod cleaner. Apparently having one also doesn’t fit the bill, we have two in our garage. Leaf blowing is some serious business.
All of this is of course in jest, on this cold windy Friday night the family took our dad out for an early birthday celebration, there were no power tools in sight. The recently refurbished Centennial Hotel headed by Chef Justin North reopened in February this year. With a soft muted white theme throughout the restaurant and open spaces creating a fairly warm dining space, we were quite taken aback by its chic redesign. Large wooden tables with heavyset solid chairs are spaced a reasonable distance from other diners.
We settled in and were greeted by our waitress who brought menus and explained the specials of the night. A round of ‘beverages’ were ordered, with Alex and I sharing the potent ‘Cherine’ – Belvedere, vanilla liqueur, Kahlua and Coffee $18.00. Mum always a fan of sweet desert wines, yes before dinner, went with the ‘Battle of Bosworth – The Clarence, sauvignon Semillon McLaren Vale SA 2010 $9. This one was filed away for a future trip to the bottle-o, it was dangerously easy to drink.
The Centennial offers a wide and varied menu, so the hardest part about dinner, sides all that chewing was to decide what to order. To start, for the table we shared the ‘SA calamari with chilli lime salt’ with tender pieces of calamari, great flavours, but I personally would have liked a little more heat from the chilli. We also got one of the three flatbreads (similar to a pizza) the ‘Fig & Caramelised onion flatbread with goats curd & lemon thyme. $19.00. The flatbread was unanimously one of the standouts of the night, I happen to fall into the camp that loathes goats curd so I would have preferred fetta instead but it was still enjoyable and mum and Alex loved it.
Our older brother John got the ‘Battered local fish & fries with kale, tartare & citrus salt $24. John enjoyed his meal, how do I know? I wasn’t offered any…..feedback from the brother – “The fish was crunchy….” Notably absent was the kale.
The birthday boy opted for the ‘400 day grain fed Rangers Valley pave steak frites with Gascony butter $35. Stealing a bite, the steak was incredibly tender, even after my father butchered it by ordering a ‘medium’.
Madre went with the ‘Roast rump of pork with buttered cabbage, crackling and charcuterie sauce’ $32. Another stand-out, the pork melted in your mouth and then the crown jewel – crispy crackling with virtually every bite. Her only criticism was the amount of salt in the dish.
Alex always a sucker for a chicken schnitzel and with mum making some of the best we’ve eaten, decided to tempt fate and ordered the ‘Holmbrae chicken schnitzel, herb & parmesan crumbs, cauliflower, cucumber & fennel salad’ $27. Alex loved his dish, the chicken was crispy on the outside and moist inside. He didn’t particularly care for his salad, which was great news for me. I picked at it with my meal, I loved it, very zesty and fresh.
And lastly for myself, being the burger fiend I am got the ‘Black label, 8 week dry aged, course ground beef burger with caramelised onions & fontina cheese $24. I won’t lie, I was kind of disappointed. Umami burgers has pretty much killed any other burger I’ve had since, nothing has compared. I felt the patty to bun ratio was slightly off, I could have done with a little less meat and a sharper cheese. In saying that, I may be in the minority to be complaining about a generous patty portion. Served alongside the burger and also with the fish and chips and the steak were a basket serving of crispy delicious fries. These were hard to bypass.
For the table to have with our mains we got a serving of the ‘Cauliflower mac n’ cheese’ $12. This was both hit and miss, I loved the sharpness, of what tasted like a strong mustard but surprisingly with all that cheese needed more salt, it was a little on the bland side. I did like the idea of incorporating quite an underused vegetable like cauliflower into the mix but it didn’t work out that well for me.
Service on the night was great, the only downside to the space was the sheer amount of noise. You really do have to yell to be heard. One to skip for a romantic evening.
Hats off to Justin North for creating a welcoming and memorable menu, I’ll be back for that slow cooked Lamb shoulder.
Photos by Bianca and Alex