Subo is one of Newcastle's best restaurants. It's a showcase for how the region does fine dining. The two owners and married couple Suzie Vincent (front of house) and Beau Vincent (head chef) who make up the name cut their teeth in Sydney's Tetsuya's, Guillaume at Bennelong and Claude's. At Subo it's fine dining Novacastrian style which means that it isn't stuffy but it's relaxed and contemporary.
I always heed people's first reactions. You know when you visit a place and people ask where you're going. The reactions to Subo are all the same. "Ooh I love that place!" or "It's my favourite!" and when I was doing my visit to find Newcastle's best, I almost didn't go to Subo. The reason why was that it was closed the two nights I was staying there (Monday and Tuesday) but it felt like such a glaring omission that I stayed the extra day to fit in dinner.
It's a warmly lit small dining room and we take a seat in the corner. "Six years ago we didn't know how it would go," says Suzie about the modest space. Service is exceptional here, I wish all wait staff were like this and one darling waiter even offers to hold the light to light the food (a first!).
There is a short wine menu and they are happy to serve wine match to courses. Twice a season the menu changes and we are eating the second Autumn menu this evening that has just debuted. Five courses here are $90. Sheriden tells me that this is often a celebration restaurant for locals for milestones and events.
We start with some bread-slices of Baked Uprising's city loaf with house churned butter with caramelised garlic and nori salt.
Tataki of Hiramasa Kingfish served with Meerea Park Semillon
The hiramasa kingfish is lightly seared and served on a bed of black sesame paste with a refreshing finger lime and yuzu dressing with coriander fronds and dehydrated miso flakes. The rich black sesame paste balances the freshness of the citrus fruits in a gentle interplay.
Berkshire Pork Finished in Panko served with Amisfield Pinot Noir Rose
The Berkshire Pork from Byron Bay is slow cooked 2-3 hours and then it is pulled apart, mixed with sage and ginger, reformed into a croquette and coated in panko crumbs and deep fried. It comes with a kimchi purée togarashi pepper, ginger and apple. There are also pieces of pickled cucumber done with apple vinegar, rice wine and apple juice as well as tapioca crisps sprinkled with togarashi. Berkshire pork is such a luscious pork and this is a great Autumnal dish that warms you up.
Cape Grim Short Rib with 2014 Bozeto de Exopto Rioja
The last savoury dish is Cape Grim Short Rib beef that is braised in chicken stock with star anise, orange peel, kecap manis, fish sauce and soy sauce for six hours. It is then pulled apart and pressed into and fried with fermented garlic puree and served with potato, turnip, preserved lemon, black pepper, mustard and beef jus. This is an intensely flavoured dish where the beef flavour is enhanced by the surrounding flavours. The beef is wonderfully soft and it is accompanied by a bowl of moreish baby carrots roasted in butter cumin and honey.
And then our lovely waiter offers an additional course of cheese. Sheriden and I look at each other and I think we're both thinking the same thing-never say no to cheese! There are three cheeses on the cheese plate with Reypenaer cow's milk cheese from the Netherlands, Venus Blue sheep's cheese from Victoria and Langres cow's milk cheese from Champagne in France. They're great cheeses and the pear jam is a delicious accompaniment as well as the two types of bread crackers.
Mulled Wine Sorbet
There's a little course of spiced mulled wine sorbet with buttermilk granita that gets us smacking our lips and tongues.
Leatherwood Honey Creme Caramel with 2013 Bream Creek Schonburger
The last course is a gorgeous wobbly creme caramel made with Tasmanian leatherwood honey. It is served with crushed pistachios, fresh mandarin and freeze dried mandarin with thin milk crisps. It's funny how dessert affords you an extra stomach and we go for scoop after scoop of this dessert that melts on the tongue like snowflakes from the sky.
So tell me Dear Reader, we can never say no to cheese-what food can you never say no to? How often do you have dessert at home or out?
NQN and Sheriden were guests of Destination NSW but all opinions remain her own.
551D Hunter St, Newcastle West NSW 2302
Phone: (02) 4023 4048
Open Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm