• WORDS Quentin von Essen

Flotilla - Unexpected Flavour in an Intimate Setting

Wickham has a new and stylish restaurant, and it’s well worth a visit. intouch Magazine was invited to be guest of Flotilla before it was opened to the public and it proved to be everything we expected and more.

The brainchild of Chris Joannou and Zach Scholtz, who in 2014 also opened one of Newcastle's most exciting venues – The Edwards, brought in chef Jess Brooks and bar manager Simon Nicholas from The Edwards to Flotilla to create a menu catering for "from vegans to carnivores" with quality produce sourced locally.

The restaurant itself has a very warm and welcoming feel with seating for just 48 diners inside and serving up a refined and yet casual dining experience.

Once shown to our table, we were presented with a sample menu of what was to be available to the public when it launched later in April, and we were not disappointed.

First up was an entree of Butter Poached King Prawn with sweet corn, cucumber, sunflower and green onion. This dish was truly superb as was the other entrée – Glazed Butternut with fried enoki, chestnut caramel and shitake, which came with an amazing boost of flavour from the miso sauce infusing the butternut.

For the mains, we were served the Wagyu MBS 8+ Sirloin and Little Hill Farm Chicken. Both dishes arrived beautifully presented with the Wagyu Sirloin accompanied by young carrots and burnt celeriac – full of flavour, wonderful texture and cooked to perfection. The Little Farm Chicken was true premium organic chicken from the foothills of the Watagan Mountains in the Hunter Valley. Served nestled in a roast nashi pear puree, steamed leek and roasted grapes, it delivered a delicious combination with an unexpected flavour explosion.

This is simple, honest and high-quality food – prepared and cooked with care and respect for the food and the ingredients.

To round off what could only be described as a true culinary experience, we were then presented with two delicious desserts. The Chocolate Mousse with whipped coconut, rhubarb caramel and cocoa nib was the perfect dessert for the serious chocolate lover. The silky-smooth feel from the coconut together with the melted chocolate delivered that extra-rich flavour which left us wanting more. The second dessert was Burnt Mandarin consisting of juicy mandarins baked in custard and topped with a mandarin scented caramelised cream. A wonderful end to the meal with the dried mandarin and salted caramel providing a wonderful crunchy contrast.

The drinks menu provided a range of beer and cocktail options and a wine list wine consisting of wines mostly originating from Australia with a nice selection from the Hunter Valley. Half of the mostly Australian wines are natural or made with minimal chemical intervention.

What makes Flotilla so different to so many other restaurants is that everything prepared and served from the kitchen is either organically grown, sustainably farmed or ethically sourced from local growers.

Flotilla is the kind of restaurant that breeds an instant following and is a must visit for anyone who loves well- coordinated food and excellent service enjoyed in a chilled and yet refined atmosphere.

Find Flotilla at 9 Albert Street in Wickham, open Wednesday to Sunday from 3pm till late, with plans to offer weekend brunches in the near future.

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Every month intouch magazine captures the unique spirit of our region and grabs the attention of the community. Intouch magazine showcases what’s hot, what’s on and who’s who with a dynamic blend of inspirational articles, lifestyle features, fashion, events, food and travel – it’s the go-to source for people living in (or visiting) Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens and The Hunter Valley. It’s the place to be seen to build your reputation, tell your story, launch a new enterprise and keep the community intouch both in print and online.



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