June 17, 2019 / By Rosie Stevens
June is the month of the Hunter Valley Food & Wine Festival. But any time of the year is great to visit Hunter Valley, whether you’re with your partner, family or a gaggle of friends. Whilst wine is the region’s biggest drawcard, you also need some serious sustenance to soak up all of those grapes! So here are my tips on the best restaurants in the Valley. Thank me later!
It’s one of the most well-known and popular spots in the entire valley, and for good reason. Bistro Molines combines the finest food with relaxed friendly service and European-influenced serenity. Focusing on delicious local produce, Bistro Molines’ ever-changing menu creates sophisticated yet rustic dishes that never stray far from the chef’s French roots.
You can expect dishes like fillet mignon, noisettes of venison, fillet of veal and sautéed lamb kidneys to grace the main menu, and of course there’s a glorious selection of cheeses to finish. The wine list is small but premium—offering drops from the Hunter Valley, France and Italy. And if the food wasn’t reason enough to visit— Molines has been awarded a Sydney Morning Herald Good Guide Chefs Hat every year since 2010—the view is beautiful, quintessential wine country that offers the perfect backdrop to a special long lunch.
Where: 749 Mount View Rd, Mount View, When: Lunch: Thursday - Monday (12 pm - 3 pm), Dinner: Friday/Saturday (7 pm - 9 pm)
Baumé (image above)
For a casual, family and friends style dining experience that consists of share plates and tapas-style options, Baumé serves up beautiful flavours that are heavily influenced by the Mediterranean. The perfect place to dine in large groups, you can start with some small tasting plates to tempt the taste buds, then enjoy shared signature dishes; created to be served in the middle of the table accompanied by a range of garden fresh sides and salads.
If you’re after recommendations, you can’t go past the prawn saganaki with wood fired tomatoes marinated goat’s feta, white wine and fresh oregano to start, chased by the linguine with king prawns, cherry tomatoes, basil, fennel and cream sauce or confit local duck leg with a honey, thyme and orange jus. Salivating?
Where: 119 Mcdonalds Road, Pokolbin When: Various, see website for details
Situated in the picturesque courtyard of Keith Tulloch Wines, Muse Kitchen is a regional European bistro-style restaurant that boasts an ever-evolving menu and a passion for local produce and ingredients. There’s a separate vegetarian menu which makes it an ideal destination if you’re dining with a mixture of dietary requirements, and there’s also a ‘Menu du Chef’ available if your entire table wants to go all-in on a 5 or 6 course feast.
The hay butter poached Spanner crab, fermented mango, avocado, fried chicken skin entree is the stuff of dreams, and we’re big fans of the Mandagery Creek venison served with local green tomatoes or the Randall family koshihikari risotto from the vegetarian menu for mains. Either way, this Hunter Valley gem is a must-visit while you’re in the region.
Where: Cnr. Hermitage & Deasys Roads, Pokolbin When: Lunch Wednesdays to Sundays 12 pm to 3pm, Dinner Friday and Saturday evenings, 6 pm to 9 pm
enzo Hunter Valley (image above)
Offering a refreshingly casual dining experience, enzo boasts a gorgeous courtyard location and a mouth-watering breakfast and lunch menu to boot. Usual delights grace the breakkie menu, like an egg and bacon roll or seasonal fruit bowl—plus signature dishes like breakfast boards, potato rosti and a green peas and eggs dish that boasts the mouth-watering flavours of truffle and smoked salmon.
If you’re in the vicinity for lunch, it’s impossible to move past the linguine with tiger prawns, fresh chilli, baby tomatoes, chorizo, lemon butter sauce and shaved parmesan. If you’ve still got room (and let’s face it, there’s always room), the pavlova or flourless chocolate cake make a wonderful finish to any meal. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
Where: Broke Rd & Ekerts Rd, Pokolbin When: 8 am - 4 pm daily
Esca Bimbadgen showcases Bimbadgen wines by matching them with simple, elegant food in an upscale, jaw-dropping setting. A pioneer of fine dining in the Hunter Valley, Esca Bimbadgen uniquely epitomises what it is to be a winery restaurant. The 5 course tasting menu (which you can choose to be accompanied by matching Bimbadgen wines) is a huge drawcard of the restaurant, while the a la carte menu offers interesting dishes like a savoury blue cheese cake as a main course – served with poached fig, toasted hazelnuts and a red wine reduction.
Keen to try something a little different for dessert? Give the curry sorbet—yes, curry sorbet!—a try, served with candy bacon and cashew nuts. On the wine front, the menu is brimming with recommended matches—or if you prefer to create your own match, all Bimbadgen wines are available by the glass. Bottoms up!
Where: 790 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin When: Lunch Monday to Sunday from 12pm, Dinner Friday and Saturdays from 6 pm
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