Mosman has always been a hive of activity by day as shoppers venture into the boutiques and sip coffee in the cafes, but at night it’s been like a ghost town as residents shift out of the suburb to do their dining elsewhere.
But recently things have been changing in Mosman and only for the better. Places to go for a drink and casual BYO eateries have been popping up resulting in the residents dining locally instead of heading out of the area.
A few weeks ago Mosman’s first wine bar opened, The Hunter, and it has proven to be instantly popular with enthusiastic locals flocking to this fairly small space where they can enjoy a glass of wine and some share plates either indoors or alfresco. What I love about its position is that the entrance is on the fountain square which is an open pedestrian mall so with pedestrian access only, there’s no aggravating traffic noise to contend with.
I walk through the fountain square almost daily and over the last few months I have watched with interest this space that was once part of an indoor child’s play centre be transformed into an inviting and stunning space. I really liked how the interior was being fitted out African-safari style and how the doors open onto the courtyard seemingly doubling the size of the venue as well as allowing for a drink outdoors.
As soon as I saw The Hunter had opened for business I was keen to experience this boutique establishment. It wasn’t long before the opportunity presented itself with Alfie’s class parents organising a social get-together one Thursday evening (minus the children).
On that Thursday afternoon I happened to be walking nearby and, knowing the bar is very small and therefore difficult to photograph when at capacity, I decided to call in and take some photos before the Mosman-ites started arriving for first-drinks. I loved the fit-out with its billowing tent walls and drooping lanterns, ropes covered with vines, plants scattered randomly making you feel like you’re out in the Savannah, cow-hide bar stools and a gamey menu offering wild boar, emu and crocodile.
The proprietor, Steve Hiles has worked with the Merivale Group and the menu has been designed by James McCall who is the head chef for Jones the Grocer. It’s very much a shared plate menu which is an increasingly popular way to dine.
Between arriving home and heading back out again the weather had drastically changed and it was now a very cold evening and blowing a gale. For the first time since The Hunter had opened, I saw the doors to the courtyard had all been closed to avoid everyone and everything blowing away. When I walked in the bar was crowded and noisy.
Drinks and menu items are ordered at the bar and so Blacko headed straight there and came back with a glass of Chardonnay for me and a beer for himself. I’m not sure what he ordered but the cost for the two drinks was $25.00 so you won’t find pub prices here. We sat at the back of the bar in a group of around 20 and ordered a few shared plates between us. Service is fairly swift and all our dishes arrived on the table piping hot so there’s no dithering with your food hovering in the kitchen and cooling down and withering on ‘the pass’.
The first two plates to arrive were the Dukkah crumbed beetroots with lemon mayo and the torn polenta wedges with a tomato chilli jam. The vague waitress put down the dishes and walked away with apparently not noticing we were devoid of plates, cutlery and serviettes. I shot up to the bar and asked if she could bring these things to the table and she said, ‘How many do you want?’ I know we’re eating ‘shared plate’ style but would it be too much to ask for one plate each?
The crumbed beetroot dipped in mayo had lovely contrasting flavours with crunchy dukkah providing a lovely diverse texture to the softness of the beetroot.
I found the polenta to be a little lacking in flavour and perhaps it needed a boost from some seasoning or cheese however when generously dipped in the chilli jam it was tasty.
Next we had the Gatsby board that was chips, rolls, mustard and a tomato chutney. The shoestring fries were fabulous with a wonderful seasoning that I was told was achieved by tossing the fries in butter and salt. The idea is to spread the sauces along the soft rolls then fill with the fries. This did take me back to high school when we would order a buttered roll from the canteen and fill it with either a packet of chips or twisties.
Blacko’s favourite dish of the night was the crispy school prawns with paprika salt and pomegranate honey. You eat the entire prawn, head, shell and tail and when the waitress was taking our order she did explain that this is how they come. ‘No problem to me’, said Blacko, ‘Exactly how I like them’. He couldn’t get enough of these prawns.
I was keen to try the wild boar so we ordered the ‘little dogs’ and they really are miniature hot dogs. They arrived covered in parmesan and were filled with an onion jam and a hot mustard. The little sausages were moist and juicy and the sauces a lovely compliment however they’re not cheap as they’re tiny and you receive two per serve for $16.00.
We shared a salad that came out with large lettuce leaves and generous chunks of sweet potato, and roasted peanuts with a chilli and honey dressing. This was a generous and quite filling salad and I really liked the honey dressing on the roast sweet potato and I felt this was good value for the price.
The Hunter is definitely a very welcome addition to the Mosman food/plonk scene. It’s a fantastic place to catch up with friends and in fact, it’s such a lovely social scene that we were surprised to find we were there for almost four hours. As the weather warms up I can imagine this being an incredibly popular place to be.
Verdict: Fabulous venue for a get-together but don’t forget to line your pockets.
The Hunter: 5 Myahgah Road, Mosman 2088
Ph: 0409 100 339
Mon – Tue : 17:00 – 00:00
Wed – Sat : 12:00 – 00:00
Sun : 12:00 – 22:00
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