This likeable wine bar has been pleasing Novocastrians for a few years now, but things have stepped up in the food department with the arrival of Cory Campbell, a chef fresh from running the kitchen of the three-starred Vue de Monde in Melbourne. He has turned the bar menu on its head, the fried calamari and chips replaced with pickled sardines served sang choi bau-style on lettuce cups with a lemon purée, micro-greens and chilli, as well as a side portion of grilled chorizo in a red wine vinegar and apple glaze, all finger-lickin' good. A simple but sensational bone marrow also wows; Campbell smokes it with applewood, and serves the bone topped with caramelised onion and mushroom dust. Caramel infused with star anise and juniper and topped with white-chocolate crumbs brings a humble-seeming layered apple tart to life. In Campbell's creative hands, Reserve may find itself as valued in Newcastle for the food as for the wine.
Shared plates $9-$35