Finding a place that serves cuisine several notches above cafe fare, while retaining an atmosphere casual enough to accommodate canine companions, is the dog-loving diners' holy grail. Enter Hawkes & Crosby at Anstead, delightfully set amid rural homes and horse paddocks, in a Queenslander which previously housed a mower shop. Here you can savour fine dining with your dog in tow. Staff even brought our pooch a welcome bowl of water on arrival.
Focussing on a handful of things done well, the Hawkes & Crosby menu is streamlined but sufficient. For breakfast, think savoury waffles, Mexican omelettes, chorizo baked eggs, or black rice pudding. Lunches run the gamut of market fish of the day (snapper with soba noodles on the day we visited), house made pappardelle with mixed mushrooms and garlic cream, or a Wagyu beef patty served with pickles, sweet onion, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mustard on a black seeded bun.
Smashed avocado gets the Hawkes & Crosby treatment. Author image.
We've now visited twice, and the food has been a standout both times. Great wine list too. Looking for a light lunch one weekday, I chose the avocado, labneh, radish and smoked fennel salt on rye, while my companion opted for the confit pork belly accompanied by baby squid, fennel puree and compressed apple. By comparison, a late and lazy Sunday lunch demanded two-course comfort food - the off-menu pumpkin arancini followed by free range chicken breast served with spinach, soft polenta and a tangle of mushrooms in a creamy sauce.
Service was brisk and attentive during the week. On busier weekends, you'll have more seasonal specials to choose from, but may need to exercise patience between courses, or when it comes to having plates cleared, or dessert and coffee orders taken. Don't tap your fingers, or jiggle your leg, as I am wont to do when waiting. Take your behavioural cue from that dog sprawled at your feet: breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the change of pace, and soak up the country charm.