The owner’s enthusiasm for the menu is infectious at this Newcastle stalwart
If the host of Paymasters seems more friendly and knowledgeable than your average front-of-house manager then there’s good reason: Randolph Movick is the owner, having opened the restaurant himself in 1994. When Movick isn’t there, his chef-manager of some nine years, Rodney Scales, takes on meet-and-greet duties. And from the cheerful banter to the can-do attitude to split bills, it’s clear these guys aim to please.
Their venue occupies a heritage 1879 building that was once the office of the railway paymaster. It’s in prime position between Customs House (now a hotel) and the old Convict Lumber Yard and the views through the pine trees to the Harbour Foreshore are none too shabby. This is a place where Newcastle’s older, moneyed types come to be watered and spoiled.
Scales has put together a modern Australian menu emphasising locally available produce spanning French, Mediterranean and Asian influences. It’s unpretentious, tasty stuff. Time Out has a saffron-coloured blue swimmer crab bisque in which king prawns bask alongside a dollop of dill mascarpone. A warm house-baked roll helps soak up its subtle flavours.
Tubes of line-caught squid, wings attached, sit like beached airships stuffed with fetta, sun-dried tomato, pine nuts, spinach and mint, and scattered with crisp roast capers. Springy yet tender, it’s a confident punch of Greek flavours.
Chocolate pudding fresh from the oven reveals a perfect gooey centre on piercing, while crunchy choc chips enhance the house-made chocolate ice cream topped with a spring of mint and a brandy snap. This is a well balanced dessert: no death by chocolate to be had here.
Paymasters aren’t out to win any awards for culinary innovation, but good food served with a smile and an anecdote goes an awfully long way. We can easily imagine bringing a group of mates and spending a long lunch here that might well turn into dinner.
18 Bond St
|Opening hours:||Breakfast Sat 9.30am-2pm, Sun 9.30am-4pm; lunch Wed-Sat 11.30am-2pm, Sun 11.30am-4pm; dinner Wed-Mon 6pm-late|