DISHING IT UP: Chef Mel Cunningham says variety and making everything from scratch on the premises were the keys to keeping the Great Northern Hotel bistro's patrons coming back.
DISHING IT UP: Chef Mel Cunningham says variety and making everything from scratch on the premises were the keys to keeping the Great Northern Hotel bistro's patrons coming back.

Home-made pasta a winner for bistro with a difference

HOMEMADE is a philosophy the owners of the Great Northern Hotel bistro, Mel Cunningham and partner Wayne Warburton, take very seriously.

When Mel says "everything is made on the premises", she means just that, right down to their handmade pasta, which is the basis of the massively popular creamy pasta dishes.

"It's 100 grams of flour, an egg and lot of love," said Ms Cunningham.

"When we say we make everything here, that's what we do. We don't use any pre-packaged food on the menu."

And just two weeks shy of their first anniversary in the bistro, the philosophy has been paying off for them.

"The feedback has been very positive," she said. "We get a lot of people coming back, which is what we're looking for."

Ms Cunningham said keeping costs down was also a key part of their bistro's outlook.

"We want people to have a nice meal for less than $20," she said.

"People need to be able to go out and have a good time without it costing them more than $25."

In 20 years in the hospitality industry, Ms Cunningham has learned variety is something patrons enjoy.

"I don't have a single favourite dish, I'm changing the menu all the time," she said.

"We have a blackboard with specials on it and when something becomes available I can just add it in or take something out.

"From week to week the menu would change just about completely."

Ms Cunningham came to Grafton as a girl and apart from five years away working, has spent most of her life in the Clarence Valley.

"I've been in the hospitality industry since I was little," she said. "I came back and raised my children here."

Ms Cunningham said the bistro and the Great Northern Hotel complemented each other.

"The bistro is the real attraction for the hotel," she said.

"There's no pokies or betting. People come to the hotel for the food and a quiet night out."

She said she wanted to create a quirky feel, different to other eateries around the Valley.

"We aim to do things you won't find at other places around here," she said.

"We have homemade food and we like to do promotions, such as our wings, pasta and pizza nights on Thursday, where we convert a poster for the band Wings."

WHERE: The Great Northern Hotel, Spring St, South Grafton.

HOURS: Monday-Saturday 11.30am-2.30pm; Wednesday-Saturday 5.30-8pm.

BOOKINGS: 0481 127 310.