Whenever I’m thinking about feasting ‘out’ there’s usually a little deliberation involved. My mantra of wholesome, nourishing healthy food, overlaid with treats in moderation, means I tend to limit restaurant dinners to once a week. So when I dine out it’s always carefully planned – which brings me to Hotel Centennial in Woollahra.
After checking out Hotel Centennial I was seduced by the philosophy of “…a fresh take on modern comfort food in a relaxed environment…” and “…using only high quality seasonal produce and making the most of the crackling wood fire oven….”. This really sounded like my kind of food.
Coming from England originally I also have a soft spot for traditional pubs that bring with them a long rich history. This is also where Hotel Centennial comes in – it’s a public house that was originally opened in 1888 to mark the centenary of the founding of Australia. Only recently has the building undergone an extensive and distinctive renovation to bring the interior into the 21st Century. Stepping into the restaurant, with heaps of lamps, leather and antiques you could almost be walking into one of the homes of the Eastern Suburbs well-to-do folk.
Executive Chef Justin North, formerly known for his chefs-hatted Becasse restaurant, heads up the kitchen. A quick glimpse at the menu and you can see why he calls it modern comfort food. The menu follows in the footsteps of many of Sydney’s hottest eateries, with the traditional entrée and mains replaced with everything from snacks, to a selection of wood fired flat breads.
On a busy Saturday night the dining room was busy and buzzing, with couples, families with young kids and groups of friends. Nestled in a very comfortable armchair on a cosy table for two myself and my hubby worked our way through as many dishes as our (relatively large) appetites permitted.
My verdict? Hotel Centennial offers truly ‘upper class’ pub food without a high-end price tag. Every dish is clearly concocted, prepared and plated with lots of love and care. The portions are generous and the setting homely. It really is comfort food through and through. I love that many of the dishes are reinventions of retro classics, like the chicken kiev, which apparently was introduced in Britain in 1976 as Mark’s & Spencer’s first ever ready-made meal. And, guests not looking for a modern twist on their grandparent’s favourite meals still have plenty of truly modern dishes to choose from, like the delicate heirloom tomatoes with creamy oozing burrata.
Hotel Centennial really delivers the kind of hearty food you walk away wishing you could replicate in your own kitchen. Although my opinion here is perhaps no surprise given that I’ve has almost worked my way through every recipe in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Comfort Food’ book. For my next visit I have my eyes on the whole roast suckling pig, provided I can get another hungry seven friends with $100 to spare to join me…….
By Laura (Feast Wisely)
- 88 Oxford Street, Woollahra NSW 2025
- 02 9362 3838
- Open daily from midday to midnight (10pm Sunday)
- Don’t miss: the High Tea and Sunday Roast offerings
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