We were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Newcastle’s newest eatery – The Signal Box- on Wednesday night ahead of its official opening on Friday.
Breathing new life into the iconic Newcastle Signal Box, which was decommissioned on Boxing Day 2014, operators Andrew and Emily MacDonald who also run Little Nel in Nelson Bay have created an intimate dining space that pays due deference to the heritage of the site.
The dining area is constructed entirely of concrete and steel with impressive hydraulic windows creating a breezy, open-air feel, not to mention the steel spiral staircase that accesses a nifty mezzanine area offering views of the city.
When it comes to the food, the menu is created by head chef George Mirosevich (also a part-owner) who was the winner of the 2013 Brett Graham Scholarship and former sous chef at Restaurant Mason and promises to be “familiar and simple, yet clever and done well.” Think modern Australian cuisine with some truly fancy flourishes.
And that promise was more than delivered upon.
The menu that we were presented with on Wednesday was basically an amuse-bouche of what to expect on Friday – a greatest hits of the Signal Box’s lunch and dinner offerings.
Starters of chargrilled sourdough with whipped ricotta and beer honey and salt and vinegar zucchini chips with kasduni mayonnaise were quickly demolished.
Honestly, the zucchini chips alone are worthy of a visit.
The same can be said for the delicate entree of salmon tataki with pesto, ponzo and shiso and a simple-yet-flavourful plate of cured meats with zesty house pickles.
Mains were equally impressive, in particular, a ridiculously melt-in-mouth tender and perfectly seasoned 36-hour slow-cooked beef rib.
The rib, finished over coals, was accompanied by black, brown and green onions and a moreish and piquant blue cheese sauce.
The second main- a Josper flat iron grilled chicken breast with potato salad, cucumbers and roast chicken gravy, was similarly cooked to perfection and a great balance of flavours, but the rib was the clear winner in this humble scribes opinion.
With stomachs fit to burst, I was presented with a delicious dessert of Rum Baba – a French classic consisting of a fluffy cake saturated in a gorgeous and never overpowering rum syrup.
The addition of vanilla bean ice cream AND whipped cream really made this dish sing, while the second dessert, a classic chocolate brownie with a raspberry coulis, honeycomb and chocolate mousse was a chocoholic’s delight.
If this preview is anything to go by, The Signal Box is quickly going to become a favourite of Novo foodies.
The Signal Box is located at 155 Wharf Road, Newcastle and is open to the public this Friday 6 December from 7AM – late.
Head here to secure your booking.
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