Featuring locally distilled spirits and beautifully crafted wines, refined country fare and welcoming eateries, New England High Country is a haven for foodies. Sate your appetite with these 11 must-try cafes, bars and cellar doors.
From Tenterfield to Walcha, encompassing Armidale, Glen Innes, Inverell, Uralla and Guyra, New England High Country is proliferated with dramatic landscapes, charismatic towns and nation-defining history. Its fertile granite and volcanic soils, cool climate and strong pastoral traditions also make the region an incredible food bowl. Tuck into a tour of New England High Country restaurants, cafes and bars with Granite Belt flavours.
Whether you’re into wine and beer, or fancy foods; New England High Country has you covered.
1. Stonefruit, Tenterfield
Minimal and moodily lit, this stylish wine bar and cafe pays homage to the produce of the region through its name, as well as to the wines of New England and the Granite Belt via its curation of elegant drops. Serving local and seasonally relevant fare to complement the wine list, Stonefruit is the place to stop in for peaches and burrata paired with prosecco and to let aperitivo hour slip easily into dinner and a nightcap.
Come for a drink and while away the afternoon until it’s time for dinner.
2. The Barn at Glenrock Gardens, Tenterfield
Enhance a stroll through the stunning Glenrock Gardens and Nursery with brunch or lunch at The Barn (be sure to check the website for opening times). The country-chic restaurant and cafe often hosts public events, such as long table lunches and open mic nights, so plan to dovetail your Tenterfield sojourn with an upcoming event and book into the charming onsite cottage for the night.
Book your next function or attend a dining event at The Barn at Glenrock Gardens.
3. The Welder’s Dog, Armidale
Fermenting hops in the pursuit of happiness, this mates-owned brewery celebrates sharing a well-crafted beer with friends. Using locally sourced barley to bring their paddock-to-pint ethos to the taps, visit The Welder’s Dog in Armidale to sip their creations, such as the Darkwood IPA, Piney Pale and the hard Pea Blossom Lemonade.
Sip on brews made with locally sourced barely.
4. Walcha Taphouse, Walcha
The bar is small and the welcome is warm at this downtown Walcha venue. With a high calibre of beer, wine and spirits on the pour, you can swing into the Walcha Taphouse for anything from a craft ale to French Champagne. There’s also a selection of tipple-friendly food to share, such as chicken and pistachio terrine, pork rillettes, and pâté, as well as heartier plates of loaded fries and Southern-style chicken.
Enjoy the casual atmosphere and tasty drinks.
5. The Artisans Altitude, Tenterfield
Stop at this beautifully curated shop to take home goodies crafted in the Granite Belt and New England region. At The Artisans Altitude you’ll find small-batch, locally-made delights, from preserves and jams to cheeses, truffle oil and honey. Pause your perusal while you enjoy a coffee and freshly made baguette and decide just how many treats you can reasonably take home with you.
Stop for lunch then take home small-batch, locally-made delights.
6. Dobson’s Distillery, Uralla
Creating exquisite gin, whiskey, liqueurs, vodka and rum in-house, the heavily awarded Dobson’s Distillery is a fantastically eclectic operation dealing in the alchemy of alcohol. Slide into the Uralla speakeasy for a taste of Dobson’s goods, as well as jazz and blues, food on the weekends, and the occasional live band or art exhibition.
Soak up the atmosphere and award-winning liquors.
7. Toppers Mountain Wines, Tingha
Leveraging volcanic soils and high elevation on the spine of the Great Dividing Range, Toppers Mountain vineyard produces elegant whites, reds, sparklings and fortifieds. Stop by the cellar door by appointment from Tuesday to Sunday to uncover a new favourite drop, then take in views of the vineyard and state forest that border the property.
Stop by the cellar door for top notch wine and lovely views.
8. The Local, Glen Innes
Owners of The Local, Kerrod and Michelle, champion the producers of the New England and North Coast regions with their easy-going fare and country ambience.
A laidback but careful attention to flavour allows the produce to speak for itself in plates that take you from breakfast through to lunch. On Friday and Saturday nights, the cafe transforms into The Local After Dark, where punters can pair cocktails with pizza, pasta or pulled pork tacos.
Visit The Local for incredible flavours in a laid-back atmosphere.
9. The Goldfish Bowl, Armidale
Follow Google Maps to The Goldfish Bowl and you’ll quickly recognise when you’re in the right place. However, the eponymous mural isn’t the only standout feature of this cafe, as the centrepiece wood-fired oven pumps out fresh, organic loaves on its hot bricks, luring repeat customers who come to indulge in tasty delights and sip the delicious coffee roasted onsite. Friday night is pizza night, so swing by for a warming slice to stave of the New England winter chill.
Smell the fresh bread as you sit down to a hearty breakfast.
10. Glen Gowrie Distillery, Glen Innes
The small-batch, family-run Glen Gowrie Distillery crafts beautifully drinkable gins in a 200-litre still dubbed ‘Cecil’.
The grain-free spirit is handmade using Sebago potatoes, limes, blueberries and molasses, resulting in a high-quality product you can sample at a tasting session at the Glen Innes cellar door. Choose your favourite – or two – from the six gins and selection of liqueurs, including the Bushranger Gin that’s flavoured with peppermint gum.
Sip on these small-batch, family-made creations.
11. The Commercial Boutique Hotel, Tenterfield
Housed in a tenderly restored Art Deco building, The Commercial Boutique Hotel provides a deeply agreeable place to settle in for a long lunch on a cold day. You needn’t be a guest to enjoy the all-day diner that serves rib-sticking fare from the original 1940s-era wood-fired oven, as well as local beer and wines. Bring your brood and your pooch and cosy up in the garden.
Settle in for a long lunch.