Looking to escape the city for an afternoon? This might be one of the best ways to do it. The Central Coast's newest restaurant boasts fresh flaky pastries, dishes made with local produce and a deck that lets you enjoy the two in a seriously serene bush setting.
Set on the site of a former nursery on a 28-acre Mount White estate, Saddles is a project of John Singleton — known for reinventing Icebergs in the 90s — and Andrew Dickson Architects. From the outset it replicates an Australian homestead setting, particularly with the sprawling deck that sits over the property's glassy dam.
These sensibilities are carried on inside by Michelle Leslie of MLD and some stunning features from local craftsman Heath Harris. He designed the brass-scalloped bar provided his master saddler artistry for the bespoke saddle bar stools — which is where the restaurant gets its name. Other components of the Saddles property include a dining area overlooking a waterfall feature, a sandstone fireplace, a piano bar and indoor Moreton Bay fig plants to green the interior.
The venue is run by chef Cameron Cansdell alongside his business partner and wine Hayley, who together own Avoca's Bombini. Cameron pulls from Saddles' on-site kitchen garden, committing to a "simple and ethical" menu, featuring a reasonably priced menu of things like barbecue sand whiting and Little Hill Farm chicken with pickled cumquats. And when it comes to drinks, the list consists of exclusively Australian wine and spirits.
Saddles is also a bakehouse — so even if you don't want to do a full sit-down lunch, you can stop in for breakfast or a coffee and some fresh sourdough, beef and mushroom pies, pork and fennel sausage rolls, honey cream rolls, custard tarts and lamingtons served with raspberry cream.
In the future, the restaurant hopes to increase its activities for visitors to enjoy, and it plans to open a garden centre by 2018. When everything is in full swing, it'll make for the perfect Sunday activity — especially as it's only about an hour from the city.
Saddles is now open daily from 8am–5pm (and until 8pm on Fridays) at 20 Ashbrookes Road, Mount White. You can book at saddlesmtwhite.com.au.