I like the concept of dining at a winery. Vast rolling greens. Hard working vines. Delicious tasting plates for sharing. And the bonus? Wine tasting in between courses.
A two-hour drive from Sydney transports us to the region of Broke Fordwich in the Lower Hunter Valley, where the Margan Restaurant is located. The menu is designed for sharing and consists of a handful of tasting plates ranging between $20 to $28 and portioned for up to three persons. As seasonal produce is used, the menu also changes throughout the year.
We start off with the garden potato gnocchi wih grilled prawns and sage, brown butter ($26). The gnocchis are the heroes of the dish. Light and fluffy, they provide a good textural contrast to the prawns. Gary, George and Matt would have approved. The only complaint? The portion is quite small and the picture above depicts two portions.
All is (temporarily) forgiven when we head out to the adjoining wine tasting room while waiting for the next dish to arrive. I don't remember much about the wines (too busy taking pictures) but The Engineer thinks they are not bad. Yes, not bad. Can't you tell we are no wine connoisseurs?
Back to the food. The next dish is linguini nero with seared squid, piqullo peppers and chilli ink sauce ($24). It is optimal. Plenty of great sauce with a strong chilli kick. The only drawback is that it is difficult to photograph. Who says brown food is ugly? Try black. Shush, Donna Hay. Shush.
While we are wine tasting (again), our lovely French-accented waitress gently alerts us that the next dish has arrived. The quail with roated pumpkin, crispy pancetta and pesto sauce ($28) is on the specials board. Another optimal dish, with good quality ingredients and balanced flavours. Oh, there are some pretty asparagus with toasted pine nuts too.
The last tasting plate is the confit duck leg with buttered leeks, yellow beans and garlic potato puree ($26). The duck leg is juicy and moist. Wish there is more of it. We also order some zucchini flower fritters on the side. They are sub-optimal. I prefer more flowers, less batter.
Time for desserts ($15 each). Lavender panna cotta with toffee apples and almonds. Chocolate mousse with caramel hazelnut cruch and vanilla salt. And lemon and blueberry creme brulee, which is disappointingly runny. When we ask our waitress, we are told that their version won't set completely. Oh well. On the brighter side, we think that the chocolate mousse wins hands down. We all like how the vanilla salt accentuates the flavours of the chocolate mousse.
As we all pat S' back for recommending this restaurant, we decide to celebrate such a good meal with more wine tasting. After all, we are in one of Australia's most famous wine regions.
1238 Milbrodale Road,
Broke NSW 2330
+612 6579 1372
p/s: Sorry about the lack of posts this week. I work in a profession of billable hours and deadlines, and let's just say I have barely survived this week.