When a business has a name like Native Kitchen & Bar, it’s more than enough to get my attention. I’d actually only learned about it when some friends mentioned we could try this spanking new eatery and drinkery in their neighbourhood, when we came up for the weekend.
I’m beginning to expect something new every time we head up to Lawson in the mountains for our little city escapes. The latest offerings are PanTree Produce at the historic Lyttleton Stores, a new Thai restaurant and whispers about an upcoming wine bar next door to and by the same folk at Cortado. It’s all happening in Lawson, and it makes me wonder whether the sea changers from Sydney’s inner west – or so I’ve been told – has something to do with part of the flurry of activity up in the mountains.
Native Kitchen & Bar is a stones throw from the Blue Mountain Hotel, occupying a corner in the relatively new retail development along the highway. It’s open, airy, earthy and fits right into the organic community that the Blue Mountains is now known for.
Our first taste was the coffee – beans from Single Origin Roasters in Sydney. It’s lever-extracted from a refurbished 1950’s machine, deftly poured and served in gorgeous handmade stoneware from a Melbourne ceramic artist. The cups can also be purchased, plus a bunch of food items as well as small camphor laurel serving boards. Yep, I got one of those!
The nature of the menu is to serve up tasty, produce driven food with ingredients grown organically and sourced locally. It shows on the plate that nothing has been overly complicated – from the house-made sourdough bread (5) to the irresistible cakes and pastries on the main counter. I was kind of hoping to get a taste of the native pepperberry olive oil the menu said we were getting with the bread, but the house-churned butter that replaced it was enjoyed by all.
Of the eight ‘mains’ available, two of them feature meat; so it looks like vego’s get the upper hand at this point in time. Vegans are looked after as well, might I add. Just let ’em know and they’ll do their best to accommodate.
A few specials are featured each night they’re open – such as this raw zucchini salad served with black olives, herbs and organic olive oil.
From the bar snacks, we swooned over the kangaroo & bush tomato empanadas (11) – impossibly light and flaky pastry, tender meaty innards and a sharp and fruity chutney to smear all over.
The kids in our small group swooped into the rice with raisin & hummus (10) before I could photograph it properly, but the simplicity was what we liked about it. Deliciously coarse hummus, some tomato, pile of sweet raisins and a couple of rice crackers. There isn’t a kids menu per se, but this plate was geared towards the rug rats – and they loved it. Not that they didn’t help themselves to the rest of our plates, especially the crispy spiced chat potatoes (10).
A plate of seared greens (16), or green beans on this particular evening, are so close to being fresh and crunchy that they barely qualify as being seared. It’s exactly how I prefer my beans, so this pile of crunchy greenery doused in pumpkinseed oil and garlic got a tick from us.
Thanks to Native Kitchen having their own fermentation bar, the currently ubiquitous fermented kombucha tea makes it into the slow-cooked lamb. There’s some great flavour going on in there, despite the noticeable dryness of the meat, but all is forgiven when it’s teamed with the pickled daikon and spiced fruit accompaniments.
You don’t often see kangaroo appear on a menu twice, but seeing it did, we ordered both. A juicy pile of seared kangaroo (23) plated with grated raw beetroot as well as cooked, caramelised beetroot. Nice touch with the tiny cucamelons, or Mexican cucumbers, which bring an acidic crunch.
The dessert menu didn’t offer more than a slice of plum tart with ganache (12), but I’m sure you could request one of the small purple carrot loaves or nutty friands, providing they haven’t all been snatched up.