It’s been a while since we last drove up to Barossa Valley, and with an approaching special date, we decided to wine and dine… or lunch at the highly acclaimed Hentley Farm Restaurant in Seppeltsfield. I made a reservation well in advance to ensure that we got a table as it often gets booked out months away from when you want to dine, and based on all the great things that we’ve heard about Hentley Farm Restaurant from friends – I wanted to make sure we got a table! First in best dressed right?
We started our day early that Saturday and went to a few cellar doors in the area to taste some wine and bring a few bottles back home for the stranger’s collection. Our final stop was at Hentley Farm and seeing that we were still early for our booking, we proceeded to the cellar door for a taste. There is a small fee to sample the wines at Hentley Farm but if you let staff know that you’ll be dining at the restaurant, the fee is waived and dependent on which menu you’ve chosen to have at the restaurant, you can get special offers with the purchase of wines from the cellar door.
Hentley Farm Restaurant is set in an elegantly restored stable on the picturesque property amongst the vines and hills. They offer two set menu options which are every changing dependent on the season and what produce is in abundance, fresh and available.
The discovery menu is described as “a personal journey of discovery through different flavours, concepts, ingredients, and pairings. This is where the chefs showcase both daily offerings and restaurant staples which reflect what they have been rigorously trialling, tasting and evolving in the kitchen”. The discovery menu food and matching wines is priced at $235pp and $170pp sans the matching wines. If dining on the discovery menu, diners can purchase wine in the cellar for half price! One per person. We opted for the full experience (the stranger with wines, and I without – someone’s gotta be the desi driver!) and had the discovery menu so the stranger ended up purchasing 2 bottles from the cellar door: the “Beauty” and the “Beast” at half price each! 🙂
The other menu, called the du jour menu is a 4 course menu with dishes selected by the chefs, an alternative for people who don’t have the time for a long lunch or just want to get a taste of what Hentley Farm Restaurant has to offer. The du jour menu and matching wines is $140pp and $100pp for food only.
And so our epic four hour lunch began as we were seated on a large timber table with plushy seats and a simple table setting, complete with chilled water and cutlery placed on a piece of tree branch. The rustic and warm restaurant space was open and spacious with tables set far enough that every one was still able to have their own space and privacy.
The very first of our ‘snacks’!
Shallot, wild fennel, quinoa
Quail egg, curry spice, quinoa
Paired wine: 2012 Grenache Rose
Out came two versions of quinoa snacks, both presented on tree stump slices; the dark version was a thin prawn cracker like (without the oiliness) quinoa crisp topped with a sour tangy pickled shallot, wild fennel and a sprig of dill; and the light version had half a quail egg with curry spice and curry leaf (?) on top of a light coloured quinoa cracker. A bite sized mouthful of a combination of textures and flavours, the quinoa crispy was wafer thin and light, in terms of weight and flavour. Both toppings had punches of flavour, the shallot more punchy and sharp from the pickled shallots whilst the quail egg and curry spices cut through the sharp flavours and tempered the palate nicely with a velvet finish of runny yolk. I wish snacks were like this all the time!
Tuna, potato, sour cream
BACON! That was the one thing that I remembered from our second snack. ‘Where’s the bacon?’, you might ask. It certainly wasn’t a part of this snack but that piece of tuna on that metal fork thing you see, was smoked and delicious. It melted away once we had it and tasted just like bacon. Crazy! The smoked tuna slice sat on a dollop of sour cream, potato and all topped with two soursob flowers… yes, those flowers that you more than likely ate/chewed on when you were a kid! 😛 I can’t have been the only one that chewed on them! Haha.
Wild onion, chicken
This was probably our most memorable dish from the discovery menu! The spring onion was foraged that very day, battered and fried in tempura batter and paired with a rich and flavourful chicken gravy. WHY SO TASTY? The tempura batter was light and crispy encasing the most flavourful spring onion we’ve laid our taste buds on. And then that chicken gravy… #mindblown. A whole bowl of this and we would have been extremely happy chaps!
Oh the simple things.
Then things got exciting! Out came a small cauldron with a heap of fresh rosemary and two fresh oysters.
The waiters fast ninja hands in motion… haha
Our waiter poured some water into the cauldron and ta-da!
Paired wine: 2013 Pinot Grigio
So pretty and so much fun!
Dry ice was at the base of the cauldron, and once our waiter poured water into it, magic happened. What a show stopper of a dish and one of Hentley Farm Restaurant’s signature dish too. The scent of rosemary overflowed along with the wispy smoke as the cauldron bubbled away.
Once the smoke had dissapated, two oysters were left behind on the heap of rosemary.
Delicious! Too bad we only got one each… me being the greedy guts wouldn’t have mind a dozen of these fresh and delicious molluscs.
So that was only the start of our lunch, we hadn’t even reached the main courses yet. 😉
Celery, apple, fennel
Our waiter then came out with 2 small jars of juice, a refreshing palate cleanser of celery, apple and fennel juice to prep our taste buds for the dishes ahead.
Mussel, kingfish, buttermilk, wild rice
Paired wine: 2011 Stray Mongrel GSZ
The executive chef, Lachlan Colwill actually came out to put this dish together at our table and to present it. At first it was a bowl of mussel and kingfish, then he poured in the buttermilk and sprinkled the toasted wild rice on top to finish. Splendid! Never had I ever had a mussel that tasted so tender and soft that it melted away. Never. I’ve only ever had them and they’ve been chewy and springy but this was a new revelation! The mussel meat was soft, it had a certain creaminess and richness but still light. The buttermilk soup had a tang that lingered on the palate after every spoonful and the nutty puffed toasted wild rice provided a lovely crunch and hint of char that paired well with all the flavours.
The following dish was again, presented and finished on our table by Lachlan Colwill.
Tuna, chicken liver and egg, sunflower, lettuce
Paired wine: 2011 Quintessential Shiraz Cabernet
A small mound on the plate was finished off by Lachlan with grated egg yolk and a drizzle of dressing before we were left to break into the mound to see what was hidden underneath.
Underneath the crispy ice berg lettuce and yolk shavings was a perfectly seared tuna fillet with crunchy sunflower seeds alongside a huge dollop of creamy velvet like chicken liver paste. Unbelievably good. The textures and the flavours worked harmoniously together and that shell of ice berg lettuce was genius; refreshing and bright – it doubled up as a much needed palate cleanser.
Kangaroo, celery, juniper, garlic
Paired wine: 2013 ‘Quatro’ Fortified Red
A bowl of kangaroo meat cooked medium rare that was so tender and soft, seasoned with oil, salt and pepper and topped with thin slices of shaved celery served complete with chopsticks. So simple, so restrained yet so so delicious.
We were getting rather stuffed and at full capacity at this point so it was a major relief when our following course was in liquid form!
Kohlrabi, wood sorrel, artichoke, almond
The consomme was incredibly clear and refined and held so much flavour in the broth. The dish came accompanied with picked artichokes for some crunch and a palate brightener. Anyone notice the wood sorrel leaves floating on top of the soup? It’s the same as the soursob flowers from the ‘bacon’ snack. 😉
Pork, swede, soursob, lemon thyme
Paired wine: 2009 Beast Shiraz
Our final ‘main’ course before we transitioned into our desserts was of pork, perfectly cooked and super juicy paired with swede puree (similar to turnip), lemon thyme dressing and soursob flowers.
Utterly delicious, and up until this point, the stranger had downed 5 glasses of wine from the lunch alone (and they don’t skimp on the amount of wine either FYI!) along with a few wine tastings prior to lunch so he was super full and a little bit tipsy, so to speak! Therefore he couldn’t finish his dish so I swooped in and had the rest. Haha! So delicious and twice the yum for me.
Like they say, there’s always room for dessert as everyone’s got a hidden dessert stomach somewhere! 😉
‘Egg’, pear, yoghurt, poppy seed
Paired wine: 2014 Riesling
An egg dessert with no egg used except for the egg shell that the dessert was presented in. Pear puree sat at the bottom of the egg shell with yoghurt and poppy seeds dotted on top. The yoghurt was incredibly light and airy yet intensely creamy. Unfortunately for the stranger – being lactose intolerant, this was a no go but I didn’t mind it. We usually don’t bring up that he’s lactose intolerant as he can handle some dairy food and then there’s always the fear of him missing out on the full experience… just like that epic chocolate cake at Tetsuya’s earlier this year!
Almond, fennel, mint, marmalade
Paired wine: 2013 Botrytis Riesling
This was amazingly delicious. A burger looking dessert of marshmallowy meringue with dessicated coconut covering a delightful concoction of almond, fennel, marmalade and mint. Oh that mint that just lifted everything to another level.
There was a combination of hot and cold, sweet and salty, soft and pillowy and crunch in the one dessert. Each mouthful was a different experience, a delightful and yummy experience. FYI, the stranger did not share his dessert with me and I wouldn’t blame him. Haha. So so good.
Orange, sweet potato, condensed milk, carob
This was our least favourite dish from our lunch. A quenelle of sweet potato ice cream (which we didn’t think was very sweet at all), with orange segments with pips still intact – the pastry chef presented this and explained that the pips was part of the eating experience and provided a stronger citrus flavour. The bowl was dusted with carob that stuck to a thin layer of condensed milk on the bottom of the bowl. An interesting dessert, a bit odd for my tastebuds but I did enjoy the bright citrus flavours.
After four snacks and a whopping eight courses later, we neared the end of our lunch journey.
The stranger finished off lunch with a long macchiato with coconut sugar whilst I nursed by full stomach and mentally prepared my stomach for the petit fours to follow. Haha.
Petit fours presented on tree branches
Toasted wine marshmallows, toasty sticky sweet goodness with a hint of vino. No complaints from me!
Two popsicles: salted caramel coated in milk chocolate and peppermint coated in dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate and peppermint popsicle
Rocket, pistachio, jersey cream
Mint and ginger tea
The rocket and pistachio cake with the hot fragrant mint and ginger tea was the perfect finish to a delicious, long and relaxing lunch.
A lovely spot for a special lunch, the food was splendid and presented beautifully, service was professional, friendly, comfortable and attentive. It was really nice to see the executive chef and other chefs personally come out and finish off and present their dishes to us. The overall experience was fun and enjoyable and I’d definitely recommend it. There’s a reason why it won SA Restaurant of the Year in 2013 in The Advertiser’s Food Award and Best Regional Restaurant for 2013, making a back-to-back win this year for Best Regional Restaurant!
At the end of our lunch, we were both handed menus with what we had (saved me from writing down what every dish was… hehe!), customised with a little message complete with our names. A lovely personal touch!
A very happy, stuffed and drunk stranger… rolling down the hill. Hahah
If I had 8 glasses of wine, and then some, I would be rolling down the hill too… haha
Thanks for lunch stranger! <3 😉
Hentley Farm Restaurant
Gerald Roberts Road
Seppeltsfield SA 5355
P 08 8562 8427
Thu bookings from 12pm-2.30pm
Fri-Sat bookings from 12pm-2.30pm, bookings from 7pm-9.30pm
Sun bookings from 12pm-2.30pm