Dining in Australia: Hentley Farm, Barossa Valley

After our camping adventure with simple but tasty food our trip to Australia ended on a gourmet note with a visit to Hentley Farm in the Barossa Valley. Hentley Farm is a winery that showcases its wines in a gourmet restaurant. The restaurant is open for lunch Thursday – Sunday and for dinner Saturday. We had the Discovery menu with paired wines for AUD 210. The menu took us about 4 hours, so it is quite substantial for lunch. There is also a smaller Du Jour menu. All the wines are from Hentley Farm.

01

Oyster with wild fennel and passion fruit, served with dry ice for effect. Nice combination of flavors, although a bit less passion fruit would have given the fennel more opportunity to shine.

02

Raw scallop with chicken liver and pearl onion. My favorite of the series. The chicken liver seemed almost foie gras and paired very well with the scallop.

03

Tapioca with mushroom floss and mustard oil. Very crispy and very nice. It reminded us of pork crackling.

04

Rice crackers with blue eye cod and wild garlic flowers. Again very nice, a small explosion of flavor. 8/10 for the set of amuses, which did not come with a paired wine.

05

No, this is not a bowl of maggots but popped wild rice with tuna, parsnip, and lemon. It paired well with the 2012 riesling, although a lighter riesling might even have worked better. The crispy rice contrasted very nicely with the raw tuna. The parsnip did not taste very strongly of parsnip, but a very nice dish all the same. 8/10

06

Squid in a leek soup with chives, wood sorrel, and linseed. The squid provided more texture than taste, it was almost like eating noodles. The combination with the linseed and leeks worked very well, and the pairing with the 2011 grenache rose was the best of the evening. It was also interesting that the flavor of the dish seemed to change as you ate it. 9/10

07

Ox tongue (cooked sous-vide) with chocolate, rocket, pear, and morels. The 2011 Quintessential shiraz cabernet worked well, although it was perhaps a bit strong for the dish. The ox tongue had great taste and texture and I really liked the combination of flavors and would have given this 9/10 if not for the sand left in the morels. 7/10

08

Broccoli puree with red currants, red cabbage soup, and pea shoots. The acidity of the 2012 Stray Mongrel Grenache-Shiraz-Zinfandel was a bit too high for the red cabbage, but the combination of red cabbage and broccoli worked very well. 8/10

09

Pork (again cooked sous-vide) with swede, sunflower seeds, sherry and béchamel. I personally would have preferred an oaked buttery chardonnay with this, but Hentley doesn’t make such a wine and so they paired it with the 2008 Clos Otto Shiraz, their flagship wine. The wine was a bit too powerful for the dish, but it was still very enjoyable. 8/10

10

The first palate cleanser: blue swimmer crab with sorrel, kimchi and mint. The chef makes his own kimchi and this was very nice indeed.

11

An egg filled with a yogurt and orange mousse and topped with poppy seeds. I liked the presentation in the egg carton.

12

The first dessert was very good: pear with coffee, almonds, and cilantro (called coriander in Australia), adequately paired with a 2012 fortified red. 9/10

13

The second dessert was also very nice: a triple sec and mandarin souffle with jersey cream, paired with a 2011 botrytis riesling. 8/10

14

The first of a series of what the chef calls ‘treats’: fortified marshmallows.

15

Rhubarb, ajwan and milk chocolate popsicles.

17

Dark chocolate and cranberry pops in the shape of the logo of the winery and restaurant. The treats are served with a fresh mint infusion.

16

The lemon and dried grape madeleines were nicely crispy.

This was a very nice meal, with original flavors and textures and adequate wine pairings showcasing the winery’s fine wines. The Discovery menu is a lot of food, especially for lunch, even though (very unusual for this type of restaurant) no bread is served. The chef is certainly talented. For now I’ll rate 8.5/10 for the food and 8/10 for the wine. The service was very friendly, and I thought it a nice touch that the chef serves part of the dishes himself. 8.5/10 for the service.

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12 thoughts on “Dining in Australia: Hentley Farm, Barossa Valley

  1. That was a marathon effort for lunch. There is some amazing food in the wine regions of SA. We visit as often as we can, though it’s the top shelf wines (not Grange) from small wineries that keep us coming back.

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      1. It’s way too expensive to order premium wines in restaurants and pay the enormous mark up, but a bottle purchased $30- $80 is a good investment if you have the space, inclination and patience to cellar for 5+ years. If you think about what you pay per glass then it’s very reasonable and at that end of the market the wine is far more elegant than the fruity in your face cheap drops! Our licensing laws still allow diners to take their own wine. You generally pay about $5 per bottle corkage charge to cover service, glasses etc. so it’s an attractive option. I confess to being totally ignorant of European or US wines, but like to think I know a thing or two about our home grown drops.

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        1. Wines are expensive in restaurants in NL, too. What surprised me is the price of wines in bottle shops in Australia. I can get very good French or Italian wine for less than AUD 20 in bottle shops here. During the first three weeks of our trip we had to make do with BWS and buying wine based on what I read on the labels. We had lots of good Australian wine in our last week, selected by our friends who are Australians and wine lovers, but all of those were quite expensive. I rarely buy anything over AUD 50 at home. European wines are more varied because the producers are on average much smaller than in Australia. Even top wines like Grange are not single vineyard in Australia. Single vineyard doesn’t necessarily mean better quality, but it does mean more variety and character.

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  2. First of all, kudos for surviving the ‘rougher’ [tho’ no dount interesting’] parts of the country! Have not been to SA awhile and this is new to me ~ quite delightful as far as differing dishes from the usual are concerned. The squid in leek soup methinks would have been my favourite. Loved much of the plating, tho’ am not certain of all the ‘twig’ presence 🙂 ! Personally the ‘egg carton’ presentation does not quite jell! Quite a fascinating menu you scored very creditably : thank you 🙂 ! Come back!

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  3. You’re in my home town Stefan!!!!! I love the Barossa Valley and go there often (it’s only a 45 minute drive from home). I’m so glad you enjoyed the food and wine 🙂 It’s been wonderful reading up on your adventures in Australia.

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