Hunter Gatherer is an exciting new addition to the Sydney’s casual dining scene, sitting atop Greenwood Plaza in North Sydney. Now, I have been working in North Sydney for 17 years and have seen a number of restaurants come and go from this site. The location doesn’t get the foot traffic of other dining establishments within Greenwood Plaza, nor does it face Miller or Blue streets, so you really have to seek out the location. I am here to tell you that Hunter Gatherer needs to be high on your list of new restaurants to come visit. The space is bright and has a modern feel to it. Shared tables towards the back, small tables with tall chairs up front, and relaxed couches outside provide a myriad of options. The psychedelic art installation definitely provides a talking point.
In perusing the menu, there’s an emphasis on the provenance of each of the main ingredients. Think Borrowdale pork, Spring Bay mussels, and Holmbrae chicken. In addition, Hunter Gatherer looks to farms in the Hawkesbury catchment for its produce. If you loved Kitchen by Mike, I think the spirit and approach of that menu lives on in Hunter Gatherer.
For lunch, the concept is simple; choose a Hunted (which is a protein dish) and a Gathered (a vegetable dish), and share it with your buddies. Kicking off the spread of food is spaghettini, zucchini flower tops, Windsor kale, house ricotta, chilli and herb butter. This is the only dish on the Hunted which does not contain meat or seafood, but fear not, it tastes absolutely delicious. Perfectly cooked delicate spaghettini is lightly coated with the butter and ricotta, and is superb. I love the herbs and light touch of chilli. The zucchini flower tops are lightly battered and crispy and a perfect counter to the soft spaghettini. It’s a delightful flavorful start to our meal.
The wow factor is turned up a notch with the following two Hunted dishes. First off, there’s a Borrowdale Farm pork belly, fennel salad, stuffing and cider jus. You’re most probably thinking if it’s pork belly then, by default, it needs crispy, crunchy crackling. At Hunter Gatherer, the emphasis is beautifully tender pork belly, rather than the theatre of crackling. The meat cuts like knife through butter, the fat is rendered nicely. The taste? Out of this world! If there’s a sweeter tasting pork in the city, I want to know where it’s at! The crumb and jus elevates the dish a notch. So good!
When I initially ordered the Spring Bay jumbo mussels, tomato, Rodriguez chorizo and parsley, the waitress acknowledged it with a “good choice” and a knowing smile. Then when it was served, it was the last dish to be presented, kind of like the pièce de résistance. They weren’t kidding as to the size of the mussels, they were massive! Prying open my first mussel in excitement, tomato sauce goes flying everywhere, yet it’s worth the stain removal session I’d have to partake in that evening. The mussel is soft and pillowy, with the most delicate bite and slight briny taste of the ocean. Combine it with the sweet, and delicately spiced, tomato sauce and the smokiness from the chorizo, and you just about have the perfect seafood dish.
Partnering the Hunted are a pair of Gathered dishes. First off, it’s the rocket, pear and blue cheese salad with walnut vinaigrette. The slightly sweet and mellow flavours of pear combine well with peppery rocket, which in turn cuts through the blue cheese. Nutty flavours from the vinaigrette make it out like a modern version of the classic waldorf salad.
Our final Gathered dish is a bowl of roast root vegetables. Hunter Gatherer take a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach with the roast root vegetables. Perfectly proportioned medley of locally sourced vegetables show off the autumnal flavours of this time of year. Vibrant baby carrots, that are easy to carve through, and super sweet caramelised red onions, make perfect partners.
Quite simply, those of us who work and live in the area need a dining venue like this, which draws on seasonal produce and delivers food of the quality and value that Hunter Gatherer does. While we explored the lunch menu, there are breakfast and dinner options, and an extensive drinks list too.