Have you ever arrived somewhere and wished that you could just stay and while away the afternoon with a lovely cold bottle of vino, a lovely grazing platter and some stimulating company? But then you come to your senses, realise you have two small kids with you and neither you or your dining companion (in this case husband) will take ownership of the "designated driver" position?
Well that's what happened recently when we took a little explore over the mountains to Little Hartley. We hadn't really planned on stopping in at Ambermere Rose Inn. We had taken a wee detour off the meticulously planned itinerary that I had prepared (at Mr Munch's persistence) and as we drove past the Inn, I realised that itineraries are really for the anal and banal and we threw caution to the wind and swung off the Great Western Highway into the driveway of the Inn.
This gorgeous Inn is circa 1845 and it has had many lives in its history. It has been a pub, a Cobb & Co staging post, a guest house and also a private residence, but now it is a fabulous cafe/restaurant/wine bar that welcomes both travellers and locals alike. It is the perfect spot to drop by if you are visiting the Jenolan Caves or travelling further west into the never never of NSW.
You enter the Inn from the back (such a country thing to do!). There is a large al fresco area with tables surrounding an old chimney place, that all face the beautiful rural vista. There is a large grassed area for children to run amok on and delightful vintage cars are parked at random spots around the place. Staff greet you immediately and let you choose your own seat in the sunshine.
We had arrived mid morning and were advised that coffee and cake was being served until lunch time. We had just missed breakfast service, which was absolutely fine as we had already had the most delectable breakfast at another old property, Lochiel House.
However, we were in desperate need of decent coffee and Ambermere Rose Inn delivered big time! Their Morgan's coffee was oh so good and it came with a complimentary piece of house made biscotti which the little bulls gobbled up! We also enjoyed the most delectable French Apple Cake ($12) & Scones with Jam and Cream ($10).
Now as I mentioned at the beginning, Ambermere Rose Inn is the sort of place where one could enjoy a very leisurely and very long lunch. We had a squizz of the lunch menu and were kicking ourselves that we hadn't booked a table. The menu sounds delicious and we have most definitely added this little gem to our bucket list of luncheon venues - a local produce platter accompanied by a bottle of chilled NSW semillion, sounds like my idea of a heavenly lunch. The only dilemma is that there isn't a children's menu and most of the items on the menu probably aren't suitable for younger children (unless of course you are raising little foodies!).
Whilst I sat back and enjoyed my coffee, Mr Munch and the little bulls explored the grounds of Ambermere Rose Inn. They discovered all sorts of vintage cars, carts and even an old fire truck which delighted the boys immensely. The little bulls did try to run off down the road at one stage as they had spied the Lolly Bug on the way in - basically it is a very big bright shop selling lollies on the other side of the road. SO be warned you may have to make a detour on the way home!
If you are lucky enough to either be in Little Hartley of an evening than may I suggest you make a reservation for dinner. The interior of the Inn is stunning and the cosy dining room would be an ideal romantic dinner destination. Somehow you would have to ditch the kids as the dining rooms looks very "grown up." There is accommodation down the road at the Hartley Vale Holiday Farm (which Little Stay hopes to review in 2014) or alternately, Blackheath is only a 15 minute drive away and there are loads of accommodation options for families and couples there.
So as you can probably see, I am a wee bit smitten with Ambermere Rose Inn. Obviously it is not the most child friendly of venues as it doesn't tick many of the boxes (hence its 3 lollipops score). But I still would most definitely recommend you stop by next time you find yourself over the other side of the mountains. Now all I need to do is find myself someone willing to babysit two of the most delightful (not necessarily well behaved) little boys and convince Mr Munch to take up the reins of the hyundai and become the designated driver so that I can enjoy that long leisurely lunch x
Cnr Ambermere Rd & Great Western Hwy, Little Hartley NSW 2790
Open Fri, Sat, Sun: 10am - 6pm; Mon: 10am - 4pm
(hours may vary due to season)