ORIGINAL ARTICLE SOURCE : NEWCASTLE HERALD : LIZ LOVE EATS OUT
SURPRISINGLY, this place manages to be all things to all people.
Primarily it’s a vibrant bar, which should mean it can’t also be a dining space where you can hear yourself think.
However, the main dining area is below the bar area and on the principle that sounds travel upwards, it is an area where even the not-so-young can enjoy a dinner for two, whether inside or out.
The eclectic menu continues the theme; there are nine pizzas, four steaks, a seafood section, small plates for sharing, salads and three pastas.
There’s even chicken schnitzel and a Wagyu beef burger.
Add a couple of nightly specials and you would have to be very picky to not find something to suit.
The mixed sharing plate lands quickly. This ample serving includes four mozzarella-oozing, crusty arancini draped in drizzles of aioli; four chargrilled slices of bread, a tiny ramekin containing four meat balls in a thick tomato sauce with shaved parmesan on top; a pile of supple, fried squid and a dish of warm marinated olives ($32).
There’s a reason scallops are on almost every menu.
They are always a winner.
Five perfectly grilled, plump beauties sitting on a bed of toasted corn go so well with the caramelised cauliflower puree which adds even more smoky notes ($24).
You can’t go past tonight’s special of pork belly with more cauliflower puree, broccoli and a well flavoured jus.
There’s just enough fat below the crunchy crackling to compliment the meltingly soft meat; verdict – one of the best pork bellies we can remember.
A dish of crisp fries ($8) adds more calories but who cares?
A side of fennel slaw ($8) is much larger than expected.
And the winter mixture of parsley-flecked, finely sliced fennel, red onion and red cabbage would have been far more interesting if it hadn’t been swamped with mayonnaise.
Desserts (all $14) lean to the substantial. Two out of four selections are sweet pizzas: nutella and banana pizza with crushed hazelnuts and honeyed ricotta, and poached pear and almond pizza with vanilla ice-cream.
Other choices are the ubiquitous chocolate fondant with chocolate sauce, salted peanut brittle and vanilla ice-cream or the creme brulee with peanut brittle and fresh strawberries.
Like the scallops, they are ubiquitous because they can be very good if done well.
The creme brulee is textbook perfect with a cracklingly good crust and rich, creamy custard.
There’s also an absolute pile of peanut brittle, which is a bit over the top, but a liberal dose of fragrant sliced strawberries compensates.
It has to be said, in the interests of giving a good idea of what to expect, there are times when I need to have more dining mates than just my long-suffering partner. And tonight is a case in point.
Appetite restrictions make it impossible to even sample one of the pizzas as well as give a good overview of the smaller plates, pastas, fish and meat selections.
I have done my best.
And what’s more, this is a place which will reward another visit.
What: The Landing Bar & Kitchen
Where: 1 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle; 4927 1722; thelanding.com.au.
Hours: Monday to Friday, noon to midnight; Saturday, 11am to midnight; Sunday, 11am to 10pm.
Chef: Will O’Brien.
Wines: Mainly Hunter with other Australian and NZ wines.
Vegetarian: Two breads, one entree, one pasta, cheeses and one pizza.
Bottom line: Two can eat very well for $110 without drinks.
Wheelchair access: Lower level accessible from waterfront.
Do try: Pork belly (if available) with cauliflower puree.