At EXP. our focus is to create a dining EXP.erience that is delicious, entertaining and interactive.
Food is at the heart of EXP. and the menu is driven by the seasons and produce. The team sources local produce as much as possible, with quality always being the key. With these ingredients the kitchen create dishes that are our EXP.ression of Australian cuisine.
The restaurant is located in Pokolbin, the heart of the Hunter Valley. The dining room is chic and intimate with hand crafted local furniture. Guests can sit along the bar and peer directly into the kitchen while interacting with Chef Frank Fawkner and his team. The restaurant garden sits just beyond the confines of the dining room.
EXP. restaurant is infused in Oakvale Winery, a family owned and operated business that is passionate about all facets of winemaking. They strive to produce minimalist handcrafted wines that are unique, distinct and a true reflection of the Hunter Valley region.
frank fawkner - owner - head chef
Frank began his cooking career at the age of 15 at Mount Broke Wines, a simple cafe in Broke.
He was then a part of the opening team at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley where he worked for 3 years to complete his apprenticeship. With hunger for knowledge and EXP.erience he then moved to London to work for Tom Aikens, climbing to the rank of Sous Chef at "Tom's Kitchen".
Upon returning home to the Hunter, Frank landed a position at renowned Muse Restaurant where he worked alongside owners Troy and Megan Rhoades-Brown, chef and restaurant manager. This was a great platform to develop his career; learning how to run a fine dining restaurant and create his own style of food. Great achievements for Frank was becoming Head Chef in late 2013 and being part of the team when Muse Restaurant reached the coveted "2 Hats" from the SMH Good Food Guide.
2015 marked the beginning of a new EXP.edition for Frank and the team; the opening of EXP. restaurant. Two years on EXP. keeps evolving with a menu that is driven by the seasons.
2017 Frank launched his passion project Fawk Foods the first line of products released is black garlic, more information can be found at www.fawkfoods.com
JOSH GREGORY - Head CHEF
Food was Joshua Gregory’s childhood passion. Raised on a property in the rural Hunter Valley of NSW, his family lived on the produce they grew, foraged or fished. Under his first mentor, chef Troy Rhoades-Brown at Muse, Josh sowed the seeds of his food career philosophy: “Cooking for others is the greatest gift you can give.”
In 2012, Josh won the coveted Brett Graham scholarship through the Hunter Culinary Association. It set him on a worldwide food learning adventure, watching the northern lights at Fäviken, eating fermented clove root at the Nordic food lab, dining with Massimo Bottura in Osteria Francescana and standing in awe of Andoni Luis Aduriz in his kitchen at Mugaritz. It concluded with stint at Brett’s Michelin-starred London restaurant, The Ledbury, working at the highest level of cuisine.
On his return to Australia, Josh joined the award-winning Biota restaurant in the NSW Southern Highlands under another mentor, chef James Viles. He learned a new respect
for regionality, learning to hunt, fish and forage as well as cook with skill and ingenuity. While at Biota, Josh was a national finalist in the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence awards.
Josh returned to the Hunter Valley in 2016 to work at EXP. Restaurant as Sous chef, bringing passion and experience to the team.
The EXP.loration we have set out on could not be achieved without the help from the local community and businesses. EXP. restaurant is here to support the growth of small businesses that strive to make a difference in their selected professions and raise awareness through local networking. These are the people and businesses we work with closely to make EXP. restaurant whole.
Newcastle Greens I Local grown heirloom produce I www.newcastlegreens.com
Shanes Seafood I Seafood I
Oakvale Wines I Wines, cider and the stunning restaurant I www.oakvalewines.com.au
Wyan McAllister and Kyle Roddeny I Crockery I www.claycanoe.com.au
Helen Stronach - Ceramist I Crockery I www.stronacharchitects.com.au/art
Mark Aylward - Sculptor I Restaurant woodwork I www.solidwoodfurniture.com.au
Ebony and Usher Tinkler - Tinklers Wines I Wines I www.tinklers.com.au
Elizabeth Durabin - Pokolbin Purple I Local garlic and produce I www.pokolbinpurple.com.au
Ross Ciavarella - Sprocket Roasters I Local roasted coffee I www.sprocketroasters.com.au
Daintree Estates I Australian chocolate supplier I www.daintreeestates.com/about_us.htm
Bloodwood Botanica I Wall sculptures I www.bloodwoodbotanica.com
Udder Farm I Local milkman I Udder Farm Dairy
Australian Pinnacle Meats I Wagyu beef supplier I