What do riverside views, fresh Australian produce and a glass of local plonk all have in common?
They are what patrons can expect at Maitland’s newest restaurant COQUUN.
The highly anticipated native cuisine restaurant, located in The Riverlink Building on High Street, will officially open its doors on Friday.
It’s been a homecoming for owner Daniel O’Leary who grew up in the local area and attended the Linuwel School at East Maitland,
Mr O’Leary, who has worked for over 10 years in the hospitality industry, said it had been a long journey to opening night but all the hard work had definitely paid off.
“The space looks so beautiful and the staff are really enthusiastic. We are all really excited to be here,” he said.
“The council have been phenomenal – really progressive and helpful. I feel very lucky to be able to do this.”
Inspired by native Australia, the team will focus on sourcing as much of its produce as possible from within a 200 kilometre radius of Maitland.
“We are sourcing a lot of the offerings from our restaurant from local farmers and winemakers,” Mr O’Leary said.
“We are trying to create a place that people can come and get a taste of the Hunter.”
The restaurant will be open from 8am til late on Wednesday to Monday and closed on Tuesdays.
Mr O’Leary said the restaurant paid tribute to the traditional custodians of the land, with some of the menu in Wonnarua language.
“Coquun is one of the first names for the Hunter River,” he said.
“Through the menu, there are a handful of words that people may or may not recognise but we are Wonnarua country here in Maitland.
“Wonnarua language has been extinct for a very long time, but there is amazing work happening to regenerate it.
“The menu is flavoured really distinctly by the native food bowl so we are playing with wallaby, kangaroo, blood limes and salt bush – all those ingredients that first nation people have an extraordinary history with and understanding of.
“So it’s acknowledging that extraordinary history.”
Sadly, the restaurant is already booked out for its opening night on Friday but its regular hours will begin on Saturday.
“Everyone should come down. The building is a remarkable investment into Maitland, and we need to share it,” Mr O’Leary said.
“Come enjoy a spritz or coffee by the beautiful coquun.”