With lockdown unlikely to be lifted this week (unfortunately), more and more restaurants are pivoting to a takeaway and home delivery model.
The Criterion at Carrington has ramped up its offering with the new Lockdown Lunacy packs. There's the $99 Cri-Vival Pack (four burgers, four pieces of chicken, fries, mashed potato, gravy, slaw, four Cattleyard lagers); the $55 Singles Bubble Pack (two burgers, two pieces of chicken, fries, mashed potato, gravy, four Cattleyard lagers); and the $55 Criterion Fried Chicken Pack (10 pieces of chicken, fries, mashed potato, gravy, slaw, four Cattleyard lagers).
The Cri's Zach Scholtz goes live on Instagram mid-week for the Lockdown Lowdown - an update on "what's hot" at the Cri that week - and has revived the popular Friday raffles online.
At The Edwards in Newcastle West, which Scholtz also co-owns with Chris Joannou, they have created a pop-up dining experience called Big Joints Food + Booze (available Friday to Sunday). Hungerford Meat Co are supplying large cuts of meat and these are slow-cooked (some with rubs and some charred with the smoke of the wood-fired oven) and served with a bunch of sides and house-made sauces, toppings, dips and pickles.
Then there's the pair's other venture, Flotilla, which is offering Flotilla at Home. Originally the Wickham restaurant was going to stay closed in the hope that the lockdown would be brief, however head chef Shayne Mansfield is not one to be idle - and he likes a challenge. Mansfield took the restaurant's current menu home and played around with it to ensure that it would work as an "at home" dining experience.
"Our offering is what you would get at Flotilla, but there are a couple of steps that you need to do at home to get people a little more involved," he said.
"To make this a culinary experience as immersive as one when you dine in, you will need to fire up the oven and do your bit to make it a Flotilla meal to remember."
The menu changes fortnightly and, to date, each week has been a sell-out by the Monday or Tuesday, so plan ahead and get your orders in quickly.
Dairy bar shut
Oak Dairy Bar at Rutherford closed - for good - last weekend. The owners said they had "tried our best to sustain [it] but because of tough lockdown situations, we could not". They thanked customers for their support.
Cath Antaw and Stewart Smith, who own the Commonwealth Hotel at Cooks Hill, have bought the Great Northern Hotel at Teralba and have been busy giving the main public bar a "mini makeover".
"The Commonwealth Hotel at Cooks Hill has a new sister venue, the Great Northern Hotel at Teralba," Antaw said.
"We are kicking off our brand new pizza menu today and will be open for takeaway pizzas during COVID every day from 5pm to 8.30pm.
"Aaron House and Joel Bird from the Commonwealth Hotel have designed the unique pizza menu."
Check it out at gnhotelteralba.com.au.
READ MORE: New owners overhaul a Cooks Hill institution
Burraduc Farm at Bungwahl got a shout-out from Sir Richard Branson last week, much to the surprise of owners Elena and Andrei Swegen. He was asked by the UK-based Waitrose & Partners group what his favourite restaurant was, and his answer was Icebergs at Bondi: "I always order Burraduc Farm buffalo mozzarella to start, followed by risotto alla zucca and then tiramisu for dessert." High praise indeed.
Friday night feast
The General Roberts Hotel at New Lambton has introduced the Friday Family Smokey Dinner Box. Each box ($80) serves four to six people and includes smoked beef brisket, pulled pork shoulder, flame-grilled corn cobs, tangy slaw, Texan spiced rice, avocado salsa, sour cream, bean salsa and mini wraps. Orders must be in by 5.30pm Tuesday for pick-up on Friday between 4.30pm and 6.30pm. Text 0493 056 068 to order and pre-pay.
Short and sweet
Margan Restaurant at Broke has a new Margan at Home menu and has extended its pick-up points to Maitland, Newcastle, Singleton and Cessnock. Order at shop.margan.com.au.
Don't forget Restaurant Masonat Home, too, if you feel like something special.
Rogue Scholar Brewing at Newcastle West is updating its space during lockdown while hosting virtual gigs on Saturday nights and selling takeaway drinks.
Newcastle restaurant Una Volta has hinted at an "at home" dinner offering called Una Volta a Casa. Keep an eye out.
Bluey's Smokehouse is now serving from the Regal Hotel at Kurri Kurri as well as Cardiff RSL Club (where a new kitchen and restaurant is being set up for them).
The Hunter Events Bar & BBQ Festival at Dalwood Estate is now happening on January 22 and 23 (rather than next month).
Bitches Kitchen at Mayfield is now serving takeaway pizza daily, closed Sunday.
Coal River & Co on Newcastle's Darby Street has introduced a family pack with sourdough, meatballs, carbonara, margarita pizza and a double-sized tiramisu for $90 (takeaway only). Their entire menu is available for takeaway, too, plus they offer delivery via Menulog.
Carrington's Young Street Hotel is selling beer by the one-litre growler this Thursday from noon to 3pm, and The Happy Wombat in Newcastle is doing the same on Friday, noon to 3pm.
Eight Buns at Hamilton has re-opened for dinner from 5pm. Phone 4962 1888 to place your order.
The Deck Cafe Lovedale's next Degustation to your Door is on September 18. Book by Saturday to receive a free bottle of wine.
Krispy Kreme has been busy.
Last week they joined forces with Door Dash to celebrate the food delivery service's second anniversary and yesterday they announced a collaboration with Pokémon. It's Pokémon's 25th anniversary and Krispy Kreme will feature Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle and Poké Ball on a doughnut at selected Krispy Kreme Australia stores over the next few weeks. Each character's doughnut has a different flavour and filling.
"Pokémon is a pop culture mainstay that defies generations, much like our iconic Krispy Kreme doughnuts," Krispy Kreme Australia marketing director Olivia Sutherland said.
"This range brings back fond memories and re-ignites a love of the simple joys in life."