The restaurant has gone through some major changes of late, George. What's the story?
I used to come here as a Californian tourist to see kangaroos, taste wine and eat at Roberts long before Circa 1876, back when Robert Molines was still here. By the time I got the job three-and-a-half years ago, Robert had been gone 11 years, but it was still called Roberts. I wanted to change things up to make it my own.
My goal was to set up a sustainable restaurant. We ripped out some grapevines to put in an organic permaculture garden right next to the restaurant. The agricultural part of the property is about 1.5 hectares now. A lot of that is still grapes, and we have an orchard, beehives, chickens, and mulberry and apple trees.
You're from the US originally; does your Southern background play a big part in what you cook at Circa 1876?
For the first 10 years when I was in Australia, I was trying hard not to be American. Now I've got a Kentucky-fried quail with a honey-pecan glaze on the menu. It's essentially my mum's recipe for fried chicken, double-fried and soaked in our house-made buttermilk.
Any plans for Mother's Day?
I'll probably do a pavlova for dessert, but one big one for each table - and the sloppy-looking mum-style one rather than the fancy pastry-chef kind.
Circa 1876, 64 Halls Rd, Pokolbin, NSW, (02) 4998 4998