Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Verandah, Hunter Valley

Calais Estate, Palmers Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320 Map

The Hunter Valley is about a two-hour drive north from Sydney, and it was here that we decided to spend our Easter break this year.

We were recommended the Verandah restaurant which is situated upstairs at the Calais Estate winery. It serves what it calls "Australian Tapas" and we chose a selection of dishes that were delivered to the table at various intervals.

The first to arrive were Bruchetta with Truffled Mushrooms, Spinach & Ricotta and Triple Cream King Island Blue Cheese with Pear and Honey & Fried Sage Leaves. The bruchetta was tasty and the mushrooms weren't too truffly. The cheese and pear was divine. The cheese was beautifully creamy and the honey was lovely.

Next to arrive was Battered Eggplant with Saffron Aioli. I couldn't taste saffron in the aili, but the eggplants were great. Accompanying that were Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Potatoes which were nice and crispy and extremely "moreish".

We then had Spicy Broad Bean and Mint Fritters with Couscous and Chickpea Salad. I wasn't sure about this when it was suggested but it was surprisingly good. The fritters were nice and the chickpea salad was really good.

For dessert the creme brulee rule came into play so I had Passionfruit Crème Brulee. It was really good, the passion fruit was spread evenly through the custard and it rates an 8.5 on the chart.

The Verandah is a bit off of the beaten track, but is definitely worth finding. The service was excellent and if you're there at lunchtime, try and get a table on the balcony, as the view over the vineyard is really nice.

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