A river of hope runs deep within the veins of the Australian dining public as we emerge from lockdowns some never saw coming. Pining for dining and all its accoutrement is a box we long to tick as we tip-toe away from the bittersweet salve of restaurant take-out and dare to dream of returning to restaurants of old or pursue the promise of a new nostalgia.
You see, nostalgia evokes in us a memory or feeling, and has the power to transport us like the way a child sees the world, with wonder, awe and an indelible memory to a place or a time where we know we were loved, where we can be both happy and sad. Some may long for dining rooms far and away, in a bygone era before modern life changed, while others may want for a time machine to rewind them to a place where they yearn to return. Food also has the power to teleport us with memories of exotic rooms and magnificent menus brimming with the familiar flavour of happier or more secure times.
What determines a great regional restaurant, is it location, produce, service or food? At its very core, hospitality is about care and nurture, in fact, it is the primary intent coupled with food, water and to provide a place of comfort and shelter. A successful restaurant is driven by two things – systems and service – and waterfront dining in Australia is potentially anchored in doubt or buoyed with optimism.
So armed with the later, I stepped up to Tweed River House and into a world of charm with an air of familiarity and inhaled a wonderful whiff of a place that is about to prosper. The magnificence of the manor, formerly a reception center, is as glamourous and sophisticated as it is relaxed. The astute attention to detail will thrill you just as much as the breathtaking view of the Tweed River and almighty Wollumnbin in the distance.
“Old world hospitality is our keynote” says Gregory Lording, General Manager and co-owner. “We want guests to feel immersed in the relaxed style of bygone eras – think Singapore’s Raffles and Penang’s E&O dining rooms and cocktails on the terraces of grand old homes in Australia’s tropical north”.
How can we create our future when we are clinging to the memories of the past? Well, comfort is king, nurture is the key, and the prospect of an escape from the four walls of home fills us with hope for change. So when a python passed by heralding transformation, rebirth and healing, the stage was set for the beginning of a new era – and the welcome of a world-class establishment just waiting to be filled with much-needed happy memories.
Beaming with talent, Executive Chef Joseph McGrattan, Irish born (just look at that cheeky face!) with an Australian family succinctly combines his extensive classical European training with his love for native Australian produce that dominates the menu with pride. Regional produce is hand-selected from farm, river and sea and all are delivered with authenticity and thoughtfully executed at the pre-opening five course tasting lunch.
As invited guests, we dined on grilled Australian Bay tiger prawns made all the better for the pop of finger lime and smoky aioli. Australian Bay Lobster followed with a seaweed tuille, smoked lobster and dill mousse, bisque shot, lemon aspen gel complimented the complexity of the dish and balanced the intensity of crustacean.
Drake Creek duck followed with crispy rillette, parfait with a strip of smoked breast, the highlight being the sour riberry pearls and crunchy apple dice to elevate the density of the game. A pink rump puck of McAuley Road beef arrived complete with brisket croquette and locally foraged mushrooms, a contemporary twist on an old classic showcasing a menu bursting with the very best of each season’s produce from the Northern Rivers. Finally, with a nod to nostalgia, the Hot Toddy nurtured and soothed an already satisfied soul with its whimsical platter of lemon aspen and honey cake, local Husk Distilerry Bam Bam infused sorbet, ginger bread crumble and aspen curd.
As the old world resets to a new world normal you can safely bet on the international success of Tweed River House, the shiny new gastronomic jewel in the already glistening crown of the Tweed region. Book for lunch or dinner and dine in the elegant dining room under the pressed tin ceilings amongst hand-selected, local and imported artefacts. Or let the river wash away your worries on the River Terrace with its sweeping views and big comfy chairs, or enjoy drinks and light bites in the Palm Lounge. For a truly elegant experience, book a degustation menu served exclusively in the magnificent chandelier private dining room below.
Tweed River House is just a kilometre downstream from the Tweed Regional Gallery at 131 River Street, Murwillumbah NSW.
Lunch: Thursday to Sunday 12pm – 3.30pm
Dinner: Friday & Saturday 5.30pm – 8.00pm
Lounge: Thursday to Sunday 12pm – 4.00pm
Prix fixe dining experiences:
Two courses $65
Three courses $80
Five course tasting $110
Fully licensed, no BYO
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*Some photos are subject to copyright ©SamanthaGowing2021