EXP Restaurant’s Essential dish: Riverine Blue Cheese Brioche

The gorgeous Warm Blue Cheese Brioche at EXP Restaurant. Image supplied


The Essential Ingredient Newcastle is a proud supplier to some of the finest restaurants and cafes in the Hunter.

One of these is EXP Restaurant, in Pokolbin, established two years ago by chef Frank Fawkner, who earlier worked as sous chef at Troy Rhoades Brown’s hatted Muse Restaurant, and at the award-winning Tom’s Kitchen in London, under Tom Aikins. Fawkner is a local. He began his career with an apprenticeship at the Crowne Plaza when it first opened in the Hunter Valley.

A unique dining experience

When it came time to establish a restaurant of his own, Fawkner knew he wanted it to provide a unique dining concept. It had to be all about quality and treating the senses, not just the tastebuds, paying close attention to detail to provide an experience unlike any other.

And so EXP was born. “It’s all about food and art and all the senses,” he says.

It begins, Fawkner explains, when customers first walk in the door of the restaurant. Everything from the tables, the plates, the decor, has been selected by Fawkner from the finest local artisans to complement the dining event.

“Dining is about the experience and I wanted something that was unique and different to the other restaurants in the area,” he said. “Everything is handcrafted, everything is specially handmade for us to make it a unique experience.”

The crockery was commissioned by local ceramacist Helen Stronach and Clay Canoe, the tables from wood sculptor Mark Aylward of Solid Wood Furniture and wall sculptures by Bloodwood Botanica.

Fabulous food

But food, of course, is the centre of every restaurant. EXP focuses on the best quality ingredients, changing with the seasons to ensure elements are in their prime, and sourced locally where possible.

Instead of offering a typical a la carte menu, EXP guests can choose either a five course EXP.osure tasting menu, or an eight course EXP.erience tasting menu. Guests can opt for a selection of paired wines from Oakvale Wines, or the EXP.erimental beverage pairing, which includes Oakvale and Tinklers Wines, as well as other alcoholic drinks starting with a gin and homemade tonic syrup, and house cider.

Fawkner sources Tasmanian Pyengana Cheddar from The Essential Ingredient Newcastle, which he uses in a cheddar risotto served with celeriac. Fawkner makes a stock and butter from the cheese. Native Australian rice is infused with this, forming the basis of the risotto.

And instead of a standard cheese course, EXP’s version is a blue cheese custard encased brioche, served with local honey and marigold, which Frank makes with Berrys Creek Riverine Blue cheese, sold by The Essential Ingredient.

This award-winning buffalo blue cheese is made in Victoria’s Gippsland region. It is used to make an Anglaise custard, which is then filled inside a brioche bun.

“When it’s cut open, the blue cheese custard oozes everywhere, which is great,” says Frank. “We serve it in between courses, because it’s savoury and sweet at the same time.”

EXP Restaurant is open for lunch from Friday to Sunday, noon to 2.30pm and dinner Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm to 8.30pm at 1596 Broke Road, Pokolbin. To book phone 02 4998 7264

Essential Ingredients for your pantry

The Essential Ingredient Newcastle stocks a huge range of Australian and imported cheese, including Berrys Creek and Pyengana Dairy cheeses. We have more than 200 cheeses on our stock list. The list features exclusive local brands you won’t find in any other shops in the region. Come to our store in The Junction Fair. It is one of the few places  where you are encouraged to taste cheeses before you buy. We want to be sure you’ll love the cheese you choose.

Recommended Articles