An ex-Quay chef is serving up inventive brunches and road trip-worthy pastries in the Kangaroo Valley.
Before setting up Hampden Deli, owners Nick Gardner and Stevie-Lee Bounader spent years in fine dining restaurants. Head Chef Nick trained at Nelson Bay's Zest, before working at some of Sydney's best restaurants, including Quay and Tetsuya's, where he was sous chef.
So when you slip into this cosy deli, cage and cooking school in Kangaroo Valley for brekkie, take high expectations with you. The tight menu — which offers just two or three dishes at one time — features classics transformed into gourmet delights. Among them are an bacon and egg roll, with brown sugar bacon, local eggs, cabbage, fermented chilli and, surprisingly, Kettle chips, and the Eggs Royale: a muffin layered with local eggs, smoked salmon, Avruga 'caviar', maple hollandaise infused with coffee beans and chives.
Cruising by at lunchtime? Linger over a grazing board, loaded with meats, cheeses, breads, croutons and house-made pickles, accompanied by a glass of local wine. Or grab a takeaway snack and keep going — the counter is crowded with sangas, salads, quiches and some very impressive pastries that are made in-house each morning. If you're lucky, you'll time your visit with the deli's cinnamon cream buns or one of its salted caramel cube croissants filled with wattleseed cream.
There's also a busy events schedule, with special dinners, masterclasses and workshops taking place every couple of weeks.
Images: Tammie Seidel, Take Five Photography.