subo is a tiny restaurant on Hunter Street in Newcastle that I heard about through Twitter and decided I would have to try out. Beau Vincent and his wife Suzie run the show with Beau on the pans and Suzie managing front of house.
Beau has worked at many Sydney restaurants including Tetsuya’s, Guillaume at Bennelong and Restaurant Assiette, as well as Bistro Guillaume in Melbourne. Suzie also has an impressive resume having worked in the kitchens of Guillaume at Bennelong and Claude’s before moving front of house at The Burlington, followed by a stint at Centonove. Together they make su-bo.
Although we were running a little late we were blessed with a parking spot right out the front. If you didn’t know it was there you could easily miss subo. The door itself is made from timber and quite impressive… once you realise it is actually a door and there is actually a way in to the restaurant (blonde moment!)
We decided on the degustation and I asked my usual “Do you mind if I take photos?” question and proceeded to pull out the camera, only to discover Dylan had forgotten the battery. I almost cried. Steve and Sal thought the whole thing was just hilarious but clearly this was a tragedy. Sad face, we had to rely on the Galaxy SIII for photos.
Five Course Tasting Menu – $78.00 per person.
- Fosterton Farm sourdough, house churned caramelised garlic butter.
- Ceviche of Crystal Bay prawns, sea succulents, sea lettuce, rye, foie gras and ponzu.
- Golden Plains pork shoulder finished in panko, kimchi puree, quick pickled cucumber and house made lobster cracker.
- Cape Grim scotch fillet, barbequed and served medium, charred eggplant and miso puree, buttered daikon and locally
- Peanut butter ice cream, chocolate and stout cake and crumbs, chocolate mousse and puffed rice brittle.
Fosterton Farm sourdough, house churned caramelised garlic butter.
subo source their bread from Fosterton Farm, a biodynamic farm in Dungog north of Newcastle near the Barrington Tops National Park. Fosterton Farm believe in milling their own flour to achieve the best results with their bread. The outcome is a deliciously soft and light sourdough.
Ceviche of Crystal Bay prawns, sea succulents, sea lettuce, rye, foie gras and ponzu.
A striking black plate greeted us for the first course of a ceviche of Crystal Bay prawns; a complex array of ingredients with quite a few locally foraged. The sea lettuce and succulents were both sourced that morning from the waterfront in the harbour, along with the pigface from the foreshore. All were fresh and rather unique making a great combination. Crisp rye crumbs and foie gras mousse were at opposite ends of the textural spectrum yet such a great mixture. However it was the prawns that made the dish come together so well. It was lovely to see translucent prawns, showing the citrus in the ceviche had been added with perfect timing not to ‘overcook’ the generously sized portions of prawn. Everything worked flawlessly and there really isn’t a single negative thing to say. A wonderful dish.
Golden Plains pork shoulder finished in panko, kimchi puree, quick pickled cucumber and house made lobster cracker.
The initial visual and plating were quite simple and had Dylan thinking of fish cakes, though the similarities ended there. What can I say about the pork? Well, pork shoulder finished in panko was the best pork ‘pattie’ you could ever imagine. Panko crumbs are such a wonderful texture and add a suitably crisp finish while the kimchi puree was true to its Korean heritage with an impressive amount of heat. Then you combine the two and they’re just meant to be together. Kimchi and pork are such a classic combination and what I loved about this dish was that it stayed true to this fact while still meddling with your senses. Lightly pickled cucumber added a touch of acidity and the lobster crackers were like prawn crackers on steroids with a huge amount of flavour in a small package. Another winning dish.
Cape Grim scotch fillet, barbequed and served medium, charred eggplant and miso puree, buttered daikon and locally foraged samphire.
Eggplant is such an underused vegetable. I know quite a few people who just don’t like it but I’ve never quite understood why (conversely no one quite understands why I hate vinegar and all things vinegar related). Charring the eggplant to outer space then pureeing it made for, quite simply, a power house of smokiness. Daikon is a large root vegetable, mild in flavour with a slight pepperiness to it (it is radish after all) and I am obsessed with grated radish that usually accompanies sashimi. Buttered and braised the texture of the daikon changed completely to allow the root vegetable to shine.
The hero of the dish was of course the scotch fillet. Blushing slices of scotch fillet were expertly barbequed to medium, promptly winning us all over. Dylan and Steve are quite picky about how their beef is cooked; when told it would be served medium they were a little apprehensive – they of little faith 😉 Even though it was cooked medium it was perfect, succulent and oozing with flavour. The smoky nuances and skill in cooking technique made this the dish of the night for the two boys!
A side salad of baby cos lettuce drizzled with salad cream and a sprinkling of capers was not my thing so I left it for the others to enjoy. We had an amusing time watching the intoxicated Steve drop the entire thing across the table and then try to cover up the mess he had made. Honestly I don’t think you can take that boy anywhere 😉
Pre-desserts are the connector between mains and dessert; they’re generally no more than a palate cleanser. Yet I have a keen interest in pre-desserts and have had some mind blowing ones over the last few years. subo’s take on pre-dessert saw a scoop of mulled wine sorbet paired with buttermilk granita. Yes it was a palate cleanser and refreshing as it should be, but the spice from the mulled wine and tartness of the buttermilk created a sophisticated, delightful pre-dessert.
Peanut butter ice cream, chocolate and stout cake and crumbs, chocolate mousse and puffed rice brittle.
Peanut butter and chocolate. Hello. Sal wasn’t too fussed by the peanut butter ice cream as she’s not too fussed with peanut butter in general. I on the other hand adored it. Salty, sweet ice cream combined with a rich chocolate cake, puffed rice brittle, giving chocolate mousse. Please sir, can I have some more?
With only 24 seats subo can be difficult to get in to however I suggest you persevere. With a great team behind it, subo is a must visit in Newcastle. Beau and Suzie should be extremely proud of their first restaurant and the accolades received to date (all of which they are worthy). Only a year and four months old, I can’t wait to see where they go from here.
551D Hunter St
Newcastle West NSW 2302
(02) 4023 4048