The Hunter River winds through my city. It is a place for the community to come together, especially over food. Maitland’s riverside dining experiences provide picturesque views of this natural treasure. Gather over homemade treats at a picnic, enjoy the cafés and restaurants or the rich feast provided by food trucks at Street Eats. Any way you choose to dine, the Hunter River is the perfect backdrop.
For me visiting The Riverlink at The Levee to enjoy COQUUN is an experience not to be missed. I regularly enjoy a local drop over some delightful bar snacks, the deliciously salty olives are my favourite. I have also enjoyed fine dining at its best for dinner and lunch, alfresco style. COQUUN celebrates local produce and native foods to create carefully crafted dishes that are both visually and delectably stunning. COQUUN itself is the Wonnarua word for ‘clear waters’ which is a traditional name for the Hunter River. Sitting in COQUUN I admire its interior of earthy tones, natural light and timber cladding creating the perfect place to watch the world go by.
Walking through The Levee there’s a myriad of scents from the variety of foodstuffs. When I pop into Lavenders Café tucked behind the Colonial Building, I know I can take a load off and relax. Enjoying my coffee and cake whilst taking in the views, I often come here for breakfast. The alfresco dining area is dotted with generous umbrellas, making for a wonderful spot to sip coffee. On other occasions I have brought my family to enjoy Lavender’s famous melts and sandwiches, which would make the Earl of Sandwich proud.
Further down The Levee is The Orange Tree Café with its generous menu selection and ever changing specials board. This zesty café is licensed so I pair my lunch with a refreshing beer and next time I’ll try a champagne breakfast. Walking through the café, past the staircase I find the outdoor area. Scattered with plants, this intimate space provides a perfect breakfast nook. Walking up another few steps to the enticing bar benches I’m blown away by the view of the river. This is an ideal spot to soak up some rays, admire the tremendous scenery and slay my hunger with a vegetarian wrap. Nearby I see oriental flavours on display at Beud Korean and Japanese Cuisine. Enjoy the scenery and chow down on their sushi. I love choosing from their huge tea selection. I can try a new flavour each time I visit.
If you’re in town on the first or third Thursday of the month check out the Slow Food Earth Market. Marquees and umbrellas line a portion of The Levee with locals selling preserves, honey, flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s a great market for the midweek shop and a wonderful way to support local farmers and celebrate their produce.
Morpeth is loved for its riverside dining by locals and visitors alike. With eateries spreading along the riverbank there’s no shortage of options. The Commercial Hotel is a classic pub with a boutique house brewed beer selection. Savannahs on Swan, or ‘Savannahs’ to locals, resides inside the historic Bond Store overlooking the river. With a feeling of comfort and eclectic interior design, I have delved into their considerable breakfast menu with glee. I recommend the pancakes with a side of Belaroma Coffee or a pot of tea. Strolling to The Common Grounds I encourage you to explore the rear deck view that puts me right on the water. With a seasonal breakfast and brunch menu from meaty delights to vegan dreams, there’s something for everyone. Their banana bread is especially tantalising.
If I can’t decide what to eat Street Eats provides a menu for every palate as well as being a great way to hang out with my friends and family. Queens Wharf, Morpeth and the RH Taylor Reserve, Lorn are the Street Eats riverside settings where food trucks gather together for a feast. With Taiwanese baos, woodfired pizzas, dumplings, American style burgers or loaded fries, it’s hard to stick to just one food truck. I recommend purchasing samples from each vendor to avoid food envy. Bring along a picnic rug or some folding chairs and chow down on your goodies while enjoying the beautiful view.
The Hunter River also has a number of idyllic picnic spots to enjoy all year round. Tables with umbrellas are dotted along The Levee or simply pack the hamper, head out for a stroll along the river’s foreshore and find your ideal picnic spot.
Story by Genevieve Graham