Eagle Hawk Hotel has been an establishment on the Federal Highway since 1986. We drive past it every time we come back from the coast or Sydney, and if you haven’t already stopped in for a drink or lunch, pop in, it is well worth a visit.
Pub manager Dozer says he came on board during COVID and was given free rein to revitalise what was already a favourite watering hotel with locals.
“We redid the kitchen, put in the sports bar and installed our Italian woodfire oven where we roll our own dough created by our Italian pizza makers. We make a great steak. In fact, in 2022, we were a Finalist in the AHA NSW Awards for ‘Best Steak in NSW’.”
He says transforming their restaurant into a steakhouse and adding wood-fired pizzas has breathed fresh life into Eagle Hawk. Word of mouth is bringing a whole new set of regulars, and the pub is known for its generous plates of tasty food.
I drive out for an early lunch on a Sunday, walk into the cool and spacious interior and slide into a sunny booth. Eagle Hawk’s menu is extensive and double-sided. The steakhouse options and wood-fired pizza range dominate one side.
If you go with a steak, choose your cut of meat, and then decide if you want the chefs to grill it for you, or if you are going to cook it yourself on the stone grill. Next, select your steak toppers, from fried eggs, salt and pepper squid, surf and turf or ‘the lot’. Continue to sauce and sides options. Eagle Hawk’s creamy garlic and Parmesan sauce are special.
Dozer says the Italian wood-fired pizzas hero the ‘less is more approach’ regarding ingredients. The Dozer pizza features hot sopressa, smoked ham, Italian sausage meats and mozzarella. Vegan and gluten-free diners have plenty of options here.
The menu’s other side holds the entrees and pub classics like schnitzel, along with a range of toppings, a weekly pot pie, ribs, fish and chips, and burgers.
Our entrees are the pumpkin arancini balls with herbed mayonnaise and garlic and cheese focaccia.
I like how the salt and tang of the green mayo offsets the sweetness of the pumpkin in the crunchy rice balls. But that focaccia is a slam dunk for the best bread I have had this year. Absolutely incredible. Dozer told us that the focaccias coming out of the wood-fired oven are amazing, and what I am biting into is next level.
The focaccia looks deceptively simple. Perfectly- seasoned, pliable, hot and smoky from the oven that has blistered its crust into crunchy submission with fresh mozzarella and herbs branded into its centre. A drizzle of garlic oil finishes off a perfect plate.
For our main, we go for the crowd pleaser, a hot stone steak – it sounds interactive, a piece of theatre, and it is delicious.
The tray comes out and the hot stone is HOT! Smoke billows up from the already-sizzling steak. Maybe I don’t get out much, but I have never seen a piece of meat cut like this. It is cylindrical and full of gorgeous marbling.
The first five minutes is a flurry of slicing and sizzling. We might have peaked too early, grilling all our slices at once, so we ended up resting them on the chips. Medium-rare melt-in-the-mouth morsels: tick!
Golden fries and a tangy-dressed garden salad flank the steak, with little gravy and garlic butter jugs sitting right on the hot stone.
We dip forkfuls of steak into the garlic butter that has melted deliciously in its little jug on the stone.
We finish with the ice cream stone for dessert.
The Neapolitan trio of scoops are perfect icy spheres cemented onto the cold stone slab by a swirl of caramel. Cone crumble, M&Ms and fairy floss add to the fun. A candied cherry tops off the nostalgic feel of this indulgent dessert.
Yes, kids will love this dessert, but my friend who eats here all the time says she has seen adults choose this dish as their main course.
We end our delicious meal on a high, moving outside to where Chantelle of Neon Honey has just begun to perform. Her rich, mellifluous voice makes me think of rich sweet honey. Eagle Hawk features live acoustic music every Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm.