Central Coast restaurants: Saddles Mt White

Originally published by The Daily Telegraph, 14 August 2019

Aussie favourites such as the vanilla slice, lamington and pie have been given a modern twist at Saddles in Mt White, and the best is yet to come according to the owners.

It was initially designed as a quiet, country style venue where you can go to have a cuppa.

Just over a year since opening, Saddles has become a destination not only for the Central Coast residents, but also the Sydney and Hunter regions.

You can grab a picnic rug, some takeaway pastries and sit on the hill overlooking the dam, or sit inside the stunning, warm restaurant with a wrap around deck.

Pull up a saddle — literally — at the bar overlooking the busy, country style kitchen. The saddles were specially designed and made by local artisan saddler Heath Harris.

Saddle directors Cameron and Hayley Cansdell, who also opened bombini in Avoca five years ago, said the first year had been a whirlwind with the restaurant exceeding not only their expectations but the expectations of John Singleton who had a vision to open the country style venue based on a picture of an old country shack.

“It’s gorgeous, we just love it,” Mrs Cansdell said.

“Even in the chaos you stop and see everyone relaxing and taking it all in.”

Mr Cansdell described the food as Australian, with inspiration stemming from his childhood.

“When I was a kid, we used to visit regional towns around Australia where we would have the best vanilla slice or sausage roll,” he said.

“We want to take those dishes, modernise them and make them great. It’s a history of Australian food.”

My memories relate to the best pies, so we tried the chicken and wild mushroom pie, topped with black truffle. Just unbelievable, from the big chunks of chicken to the thin shavings of truffle and melt in the mouth pastry.

The king prawn san choy bow was packed with flavours of desert oak spice, along with ginger and macadamia — all bringing out the natural flavours of the fresh prawns.

Next we tried the roast cauliflower, served with barbecued onions, quinoa and a smooth beetroot puree which was not only stunning but with gorgeous caramelised flavours.

Pastries are a speciality at Saddles, and we were honoured to try a selection from the vanilla slice with hazelnut crunch — a lovely walk down memory lane — along with the decadent chocolate mousse cake, creme brulee tart and almond and coconut meringue with passionfruit and cream. Just heaven.

The Cansdells said the opportunities at Saddles were endless, with the pair always striving for better.

“The last year has just gone so quick. As far as what we can create here … we haven’t even touched the surface,” Mrs Cansdell said.

Saddles is preparing to welcome swans to the dam, and will also launch a conference room in the coming weeks.

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