Udaberri – Adelaide, City – Friday 31 July 2015 – Dinner

IMG_4035_2Now living in Melbourne, I get the opportunity to go to Adelaide around once a year. It is a great place to explore new food and wine options, or return to the better places you have found. There is only one place however, that I go to on every single trip.

Stepping into Udaberri Pintxos Y Vino feels like you have set off for Barcelona, or maybe even San Sebastian. It is popular, a mix of people sitting at tables, on the bar, or standing around, most having a drink and many enjoying some tapas. It is quite dark, but for the well lit bar area, with several intimate spaces dispersed up and down stairs.
IMG_4037_2
I always manage to find staff who are having fun, mingling with the customers, and helping improve the experience for the uninitiated. This time when we sit down we notice a great looking drink being made and like a Mexican wave it flows along the bar, simply too good looking to turn down. That drink uses a gin from Margaret River called The Sabre by West Winds, lemon that is reddened in the centre, and rosemary, to create a G+T that is anything but ordinary.

We are still feeling satisfied from our platter and dessert in the Barossa earlier in the day but decide to get a small selection to try. White anchovies, bacalao croquettes, and patatas bravas is all we need with a good helping of fresh crusty bread.
IMG_4036_2
The anchovies are delicious but have a lasting garlicy effect that is hard to shake! The potatoes are perfectly fried and impossible to not finish, and the croquettes are filled with salted cod but have a light exterior and are quite simply excellent.

Every experience at Udaberri is fun, but there is certainly a lot of effort that goes into the final product, whether food or drink, to achieve that experience. It is part of an Adelaide food scene that goes from strength to strength.

Click to add a blog post for Udaberri Pintxos Y Vino on Zomato

Bread & Bone Wood Grill – Adelaide, City – Sunday 2 August 2015 – Dinner

IMG_4084_2After three of the more expensive dinners we’ve had in some time it was time to find a dinner that we could afford with the remaining budget dwindling quickly. Answering our prayers was Bread & Bone Wood Grill, an American style comfort food joint hidden down one of Adelaide’s laneways.

We had come earlier to check if we should reserve a table and were told to come back early evening to be assured of getting a table. Now early on Sunday evening it was fast becoming full with tables large and small. This bar restaurant is modestly adorned with light tanned wood, looking sparse when empty, but now buzzing with noisy conversation.
IMG_4085_2
The menu is full of burgers, hotdogs, fried chicken and many other foods you would like to eat more often. I blame places like Belles and Rockwell back home but fried chicken is addictive so we order Bread & Bone’s version to share. We also are intrigued by the hotdogs so we share the simple version served with only some sauce and sauerkraut.

The hotdog comes in a brioche hotdog bun which is excellent. The sausage is full of flavour and the sauerkraut, as well as the salty fries, are delicious. The fried chicken is a nice servicing, coming with some coleslaw that makes us feel a touch healthier. The chicken is moist and the batter is great, but somehow the highlight was the hotdog.
IMG_4086_2
Having enjoyed the vibe at Bread and Bone we decide to stay a little longer for dessert. The salted peanut brittle softserve, with caramel popcorn is cheap, sweet and different enough to have that hint of interest. We do not regret having tried it one bit!

While Bread & Bone offers a more diverse menu than some other American style places we go to, that doesn’t mean the focus on good food is lessened. In such a big space, it seems the floorstaff are run off their feet, but have a reasonable rhythm to get to tables before your experience is hindered. There’s every chance that we’ll be back on a future trip for a beer and a dog.

Click to add a blog post for Bread & Bone Wood Grill on Zomato

Orana – Adelaide, City – Saturday 1 August 2015 – Dinner

Crab & Yoghurt sorbet, codium & sea purslane

Crab & Yoghurt sorbet, codium & sea purslane

Noma’s Executive Chef, Rene Redzepi, recently contacted his peer at Orana, Jock Zonfrillo, to discuss Jock’s take on “Australian” cuisine. It is fitting that I was reading about this on the way to Adelaide, and our eventual date with Orana. It must be quite an honour considering Orana is undoubtedly taking more than a pinch of inspiration from what Noma is doing with Nordic ingredients.

When I am going to a new restaurant I rarely read any reviews, or even look at the menu, because the less expectation, the better. However, whilst doing preliminary research, and making a booking, there is still a certain amount of information you take in, as well as when speaking to others about your future visits. At one Adelaide Hill’s winery, the owner mentioned that some people try thirty new ingredients when dining at Orana. I found that incredibly exciting.

Alexander palm heart, native honey & green ants

Alexander palm heart, native honey & green ants

Orana is not the only restaurant in Adelaide making huge waves. It is located around the corner from another trendsetter in Africolo, and there are a host of other new names. Upstairs from popular sister eatery, Street ADL, the space is in a word, tiny. Small enough that Catherine and I counted twenty-six chairs, nicely spaced, facing the middle of the room, and the largest table of six. Oddly, everyone facing inwards towards one table seems to work out, especially given there is no decent view outside. The space is simply furnished with some smart fittings that are both stylish and noise reducing. The tables are also simply adorned, making room for some artistic decanters later on.
IMG_4063_2
Once seated we are given an explanation of the tasting menu to come. Amazingly we are told we will start with fifteen “snacks”, before going on to four savoury mains, and then dessert, which again includes several snacks. One thing I did research, but can’t remember being specifically told, is the price of the tasting menu ($175). Equally, when asked about whether we wanted to take the option of matching wines, the price ($120) does not come up. This happened at Vue de Monde too, but I’d prefer to know or at least be given an overview when booking (which was on Dimmi) or when the restaurant confirms. All the same, we are eager to get into the food and with a couple of small requests for change on the wine matching, which the sommerlier agrees to, we decide on the wine matching too.

Potato damper, lamb butter; Emu in background with wild plum & mountain pepper

Potato damper, lamb butter; Emu in background with wild plum & mountain pepper

The snacks are brought out by head chef, Shannon Flemming, in what is a trend for the rest of the evening. I like the chefs having an opportunity to present their dish to you, and explain what ingredients are used, along with any story about the creation of the dish. For the first snack, damper, Shannon asks us to grab the tongs and turn it over in the hot coals that have been placed on the table. In one minute we can grab the damper off the hot coals and dip in the lamb butter to begin an evening of gorgeous combinations of local and Australian ingredients; invention abounding, and discovery similar to the road trip we have enjoyed from Melbourne via Mildura.

Without detailing each and every snack, which could go on for pages, I’d like to focus on a few of the new ingredients we tried, and some of the more inventive, or delicious bites we tried. It’s hard not to first mention the Alexander palm heart with native honey and green ants which I enjoyed two serves of! The ants are clearly sitting atop the delicately chopped palm heart and my curiosity needs to try one on their own. Surprisingly, they taste of fruit, berry like, with a burst of flavour as you crunch into them. The small spoonful of a dish works as a combination, purposely quite sweet to provide balance to the other savoury bites.

Prawn & Davidson plum

Prawn & Davidson plum

The red dust of the Davidson plum on the barely cooked prawns is spicy. The absolutely beautiful emu is gently seared with wild plum inside oozing out in your single bite. The lamb in kohlrabi is bursting in flavour. The macadamia cream drunk from a cup is a pure expression of the impeccable nut from Queensland. Never off the menu to date, the thinly sliced pumpkin again demonstrates the ability of the chefs to harness and accentuate a single ingredient.

Roast beef & pumpkin

Roast beef & pumpkin

One of my favourite snacks was towards then end where the last few were slightly larger. The crab and yoghurt sorbet is creamy and slightly sweet, on a bed of codium and sea purslane, which both are found in or near the sea. Reminiscent of the oyster ice cream at Brae, you will see sorbets and ice creams of seafood more and more, because somehow it just works.

Settling into the main dishes, a spelt dish starts us off. It is soft and generous, but not as exciting as the other mains. Next we have the first of three impeccable savoury courses. The kangaroo is encased in thinly sliced beetroot, along with many other accompanying ingredients including grasses and wild garlic. The roo itself is softly cooked, separated into bite sized tastes, almost pulled, and just tastes amazing. Whether combined with the other ingredients or on its own, it is beautiful, which is not easy to do with kangaroo.

Charred kangaroo, beetroot, grasses & wild garlic

Charred kangaroo, beetroot, grasses & wild garlic

The fish course is one of Catherine’s favourites. Mullet is again lightly touched, showing off its unctuous goodness. It comes with an ingredient we only first tried two nights back at Penfolds Magill Estate where several of the staff here have worked. The ice plant is a succulent used here that you will see more in mainstream restaurants in years to come because it has an inviting but unique flavour.

Coorong mullet, lentils, walnut & ice plant

Coorong mullet, lentils, walnut & ice plant

My favourite dish of the night is the Angus beef, served aside ox tongue. When combined with the caramelised leaks, and soft smoked potato, it has nothing of the flavour you would expect from what is often just another meat dish at the end of a tasting to make sure you are full and satisfied. This is a very adult version. Strong flavours in balance, to be eaten in small bites and not devoured.

Coorong Angus beef, smoked potato & leek

Coorong Angus beef, smoked potato & leek

Each dish was well explained by the chefs or floor staff who were serving us, and service was the highest quality, balancing attentiveness with absence for conversation. The sommelier did a terrific job too. We had started with a versatile blanc de blancs from Champagne producer Jose Dhondt (topped up without our beckoning by the sommelier to see us through the fifteen snacks), and went on to a 2012 Chablis by Patrick Piuze (as requested) with the spelt. The kangaroo was theatrically presented inside a large bowled Riedel glass which was full of smoke. Once lifted and wafted in your direction, the glass is filled with a local South Australian Amber Ale beer by Robe Town. Not a huge beer fan, Catherine requested a wine to be matched instead and got to try a great red from producer “Head”.

Pocky sticks!

Pocky sticks!

With the oily Mullet fish, we tried an equally inventive wine. Oddly Cabernet Sauvignon from the Adelaide Hills is combined with Sauvignon Blanc and Petit Verdot from the same block in an experimental vineyard. While the team at Domaine Lucci understand there is more Cab Sav in the blend, the actual proportions are not known as all the grapes are combined in the winemaking process. The result is offputtingly delicious for a traditionalist like myself, and the combination with the fish is superb. More traditional but equally delicious, the SOS 2014 Sangiovese from the Yarra Valley finished our savoury courses off, combining gracefully with the beef.

Bunya tubers & Davidson plum molases

Bunya tubers & Davidson plum molases

Going into our dessert snacks the Australian theme did not subside at all. We tried marshmallows tasting of bush lemon and dusted with mountain berries. Cinnamon jam doughnuts featured too, only the jam was made from riberry bush berries, and pocky sticks came in flavours of dark chocolate with local porcini mushrooms, white chocolate with quandong, and Spruce pine. To match we had a glass of Joseph Riesling Traminer by Primo Estate which is a Botrytis dessert wine that I’ve liked for many years.

The first of our main desserts is Davidson plum molasses over Bunya tubers in the form of ice cream. It is the sweeter of the two desserts and is followed by the only other dish besides the pumpkin that has stayed the distance on the menu (though I did suggest they might want to think about keeping the beef on!) It is not overly sweet, and is one of those dishes that works far better in combination than tasting the ingredients separately. Set buttermilk is surrounded by a strawberry juice with eucalyptus oils dispersed. It seems simple but it isn’t.

Set buttermilk, strawberry & eucalyptus

Set buttermilk, strawberry & eucalyptus

Even the petit four with our tea and coffee was imaginative, looking like a normal chocolate truffle, but tasting just like your classic chocolate crackle from the local bake stall at the fete!

We had an extraordinary time at Orana. With ingredients coming from far and wide, across our beautiful country, many of them indigenous to Australia, it was a journey. The floorstaff and chefs guided us with care and humour through the experience, and I can see why Rene Redzepi is taking lessons from Jock on his venture into what is Australian. Orana is Adelaide’s dining Fringe Festival, and it promises to be just as successful.

Click to add a blog post for Orana on Zomato

Grand Trailer Park Taverna – Melbourne, City – Saturday 25 July 2015 – Lunch

KSA and Mac and Cheese Croquette

KSA and Mac and Cheese Croquette

Hype is a wonderful thing. It does not come out of nowhere and is a sign of something worth trying, but it does set expectations higher.

At Grand Trailer Park Taverna you can smell the hype. In one of the most random refurbished upstairs locations in the city there is now a sanctuary for burger lovers overlooking the intersection of Exhibition and Bourke Streets.

I’m not sure how they got the trailers up there but it is a great look. The strong crowd is not a surprise but gladly the space, whether in caravan booths, on more usual tables, or benches with stools, is nice and comfortable. Here you order at the counter so after a quick assessment of the menu I decide on the Ivan Drago, Catherine on the KSA, and we also share some chips and a mac and cheese croquette.

The Ivan Drago and Hand Cut Chips

The Ivan Drago and Hand Cut Chips

My Ivan Drago has an Aussie beef pattie, cheddar cheese, black Russian tomato, streaky bacon, beetroot, McDowell sauce and comes in a brioche bun. The classic Aussie inclusion of beetroot is great and I’m guessing its name comes as a result of the Russian tomato. Everything works and the pattie is high on flavour. Catherine’s KSA has the same beef and cheese in a brioche bun, with normal tomato and butter lettuce, special burger sauce and American mustard. Again it is a delicious burger and a good option if you don’t want too many flavours in each bite.

The mac and cheese croquette is just indulgent comfort in a perfect little package. It is huge so the decision to share one with Catherine works for us. The chips are terrific but that is to be expected.

With a good selection of drinks available, there is plenty to quench your thirst and offset all that grease. It is not out of the question to see out an afternoon over a few courses and a few drinks but today we have Melbourne’s Open House to get involved in. The pie of the day will have to wait until next time.

Click to add a blog post for The Grand Trailer Park Taverna on Zomato

40’s Cafe – Angaston, Barossa – Thursday 30 July 2015 – Lunch

IMG_4630My geography in South Australia generally is not great. On our way into Adelaide from Mildura I did not actually realise we were in the Barossa, but it was a pleasant surprise!

Still over an hour out from the CBD and quite hungry, we got out Zomato and had a look. Not far away in Angaston were several attractive options. We chose 40’s Café which specialises in Pizza, both traditional, and non-traditional.

We had a glass of Outlaw Shiraz which was one of several Outlaw wines offered at a very reasonable price. One thing that was obvious was the high alcohol content in the wine with all that prune-y goodness; when in Rome.

Unusually, we decided to try one of the non-traditional pizzas and the Publican Special jumped out given our appetite. Shultz’s bacon, salami, and pepperoni all feature heavily, along with plenty of chopped capsicum, olive, mushroom, and jalapenos, covered by plenty of cheese with a generous helping of anchovies scattered too. The result was actually really tasty, showing that there was no need for hesitation, and the accolades shown around the café are well earned. The jalapenos were not strikingly hot, but did build up. If adverse to too much build up of heat it is worth holding the chilli because it is difficult to remove being finely chopped.

The pizza was finished easily, washed down by the big Barossa shiraz. A satisfying meal to help with the onward journey.

Click to add a blog post for 40's Cafe on Zomato

Penfolds Magill Estate – Magill – Thursday 30 July 2015 – Dinner

Kingfish, Ponzu, Radishes & Turnips

Kingfish, Ponzu, Radishes & Turnips

Penfolds conjures up some of the most enduring images of my romance with wine. When I think of the Barossa, I think of Penfolds, and then I think of Grange, and then I think of the Barossa. They are intertwined in a way that is unique.

Magill Estate is where it all started in 1844. However, Magill Estate is not in the Barossa and is only about twenty minutes from the Adelaide CBD. A pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. As you enter the drive you feel a long way out of the city, driving by softly lit vines, and the original homestead of Dr Penfold.

The bread was amazing!

The bread was amazing!

The heritage feel provides the initial impact. Entering the Penfolds Magill Estate restaurant you return to modern times with slick furnishings, well spaced tables, and a view over the vines that is breathtaking. On the table is a thick vine cutting that is like a toy to a wine enthusiast. The wine focus is obvious; judging on the interior the food is likely to be modern and pretty. Touches like the bag stool are the rule rather than the exception.

We are given a menu and explained the wine matching options. There is an exceptional, but expensive, premium matching, but I opt for the “Sommelier’s Choice” which still has great Penfolds wine offered, a little more cheaply. Catherine is driving tonight so after some advice from the sommelier, she asks to begin with a chardonnay and end with a shiraz. And what a shiraz it was!
IMG_4001_2
While this is not only an oasis for wine lovers, it does help having a keen interest. The sommelier is extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic, enhancing the experience. On the other side, the rest of the floor, and especially the maitre’d, are not just experienced and professional, they are astute. There is a rhythm between them, and when a beat is skipped, the maitre’d pivots with poise. A performance worthy of a standing ovation.

Some amazing wines

Some amazing wines

The structure of the tasting menu is modern with a selection of small dishes to start, several small to medium entrée sized dishes, and a couple of desserts, before petit fours to finish. A glass of 2006 Seppelt Salinger starts us off with snacks including King Brown mushroom and wagyu tartare sided by a crisp wafer, cute jam doughnut looking puffs that are filled with goats curd with beetroot in place of jam, and pork tail. It was a nice start without an overwhelming dish, but that may have been because from the moment we entered the restaurant everything had been amazing.

Marron, Cultured Buttermilk and Horseradish, Ice Plant

Marron, Cultured Buttermilk and Horseradish, Ice Plant

One of the prettiest dishes I’ve seen came next and was served with the herbaceous 2012 Cellar Reserve Semillon. Kingfish sashimi is nothing new to fine dining, so it has to be incredible to stand out. One of my favourite fishes, the kingfish is delightfully fresh, and generously cut. Covered by radishes and turnips that are not just beautifully prepared, but excellent accompaniments, all this dish needs is a great dressing to bring it together and that is where the deep flavoured ponzu comes in. This is a wonderful dish; immaculately plated.

Salt baked Celeriac, Spit roast Chicken essence & Black Truffle

Salt baked Celeriac, Spit roast Chicken essence & Black Truffle

While the first couple of wines were both top quality, the 2010 Cellar Reserve Chardonnay steps it up a notch and we are starting to enter new territory. It is well made, and has aged well as a result, developing restrained honey notes that pair nicely with the marron. While the kingfish was superb, in line with the wine, the marron stepped up, whether on its own due to perfect technique, or with the beautiful buttermilk and horseradish sauce. The ice plant, which is new to me, but incidentally was on the menu a couple of nights later at Orana, is crisp but juicy, with a flavour of its own. It is a succulent that is named after the icy frost look that forms on its skin, and naturally is good with seafood given it grows in close proximity to the water.

When I think about my favourite pinot noir, I think about earthiness and the 2002 Cellar Reserve from the Adelaide Hills has that in balance with good fruit and elegant aged tannins. Excitement from the wine turns to intrigue with the disk of black truffle topping thinly sliced and baked celeriac, and gorgeous spit roast chicken, the broth providing a hit of decadence.

Mayura Wagyu, Pine nut & Macadamia emulsion, Chicory

Mayura Wagyu, Pine nut & Macadamia emulsion, Chicory

Drapped Mayura wagyu is chopped into finely formed bite sized pieces with pinenuts, macadamias and chicory that when combined together have a great impact. Not to be overshadowed, the second oldest wine we tried for the night was the 1995 Old Vine Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache which is a Southern Rhone style that is full of fruit, but naturally soft through the aging process. At this stage Catherine gets the opportunity to try a 1987 St Henri which I sneak a sip of and it is even better.

Venison, Hay smoked Beetroots & Red elk

Venison, Hay smoked Beetroots & Red elk

Venison does not get any tenderer than what is dished up for our final savoury course. When served with a natural accompaniment in beetroot, this dish accentuates and builds on a classic with impeccable technique. I was a little overwhelmed when firstly being poured the 2008 RWT Shiraz, and then offered a complimentary (and generous) taste of 2009 Grange to compare it to. Both wines are magnificent. Although very young, the Grange has all the layers you would hope for in such a highly regarded wine. It doesn’t eclipse the RWT though, with its different makings, the RWT would be some tasters favoured wine. I was in heaven.

Baked Cheesecake, Pickled Apple & Muntries

Baked Cheesecake, Pickled Apple & Muntries

Lemon curd, Jersey cream and meringue starts our entry into dessert. It is delicious; the meringue’s sweetness easily balanced by the soft cream and curd. A pear cider accompanies the first dessert, which refreshes you for the next instalment. Beautifully presented, a long slice of baked cheesecake ice cream, comes with a good amount of pickled Granny Smith apple, and muntries. A native berry, the muntries add a burst of sourness complimenting the other ingredients, and painstakingly sliced walnut provides the final touch to a dessert both incredible to eat, and look at. The sticky Viognier is a nice match.
IMG_4019_2
Not to be finished with, the petit fours are a dish in themselves. We ate every single one as we reflected on a brilliant display of food and wine, served with professionalism and flair. This is a restaurant that feels at the top of its game. Outside of its proximity to internationally important wine regions, it is yet another reason to travel to Adelaide.

Click to add a blog post for Penfolds Magill Estate on Zomato

Stefano’s – Mildura – Tuesday 28 July 2015 – Dinner

Roasted goat with potatoes

Roasted goat with potatoes

For many, many years, I heard and read about Stefano Di Pieri and his eponymous restaurant. While there have been changes in recent years it did not dampen my interest in making Stefano’s a destination.

Funnily enough, the main change to have Jim McDougall become Executive Chef, with Stefano himself taking a back seat, lasted only a relatively short time for a restaurant that has been around since 1991. I have no idea about the circumstances, but I do find it intriguing given The Age awarded Stefano’s the Regional Restaurant of the Year, most recently while Jim was at the helm.

Back to its original form with Stefano back at the helm meant also a return to the ever changing five course menu instead of Jim’s six or eight course tasting menu. Housed in the cellar of Mildura’s Grand Hotel, the main dining room is a long and tight space mainly suited for tables of two. In adjoining rooms there is more space for groups or private dining.

Parma prosciutto and house made bread

Parma prosciutto and house made bread

Tonight, Catherine and I did something we have not ever done before. We asked to move tables. Coming down into the cellar with only a couple of tables already seated we were taken to a table close to the kitchen, but right outside the bar and drinks service area. Having looked around we couldn’t work out why we were not seated in the more intimate part of the cellar and gladly our waitperson accommodated us. While it is a bit cringe-worthy to change tables, restaurants need to be mindful of giving customers their best tables if they have booked early, and are amongst the first to be seated. As we left we noted the tables further down the cellar like ours had not been offered, and others were seated in the less intimate spots near the kitchen and bar.

That is where any criticisms end. We start with a glass of arneis from Mornington which is one of the few options by the glass on a list focussed on bottles. First course is simply beautiful prosciutto from Parma, and house made bread with fruity extra virgin olive oil. The arneis is a beautiful expression of a lesser known Italian grape that is growing in popularity.

Cheese soufflé

Cheese soufflé

Next comes one of the highlight dishes from recent meals. The cheese soufflé is something that has to be incredible to set itself apart from the many I’ve tasted over many years of dining out. This one has that perfect softness under a quickly grilled exterior, not to mention a nice disk of black truffle adorning the top. Using a modern touch, nettles are distributed through the soufflé which has several cheeses including Parmesan, and a loving béchamel sauce. Over a week on and I still want another bite.

Pork sausage and lentils

Pork sausage and lentils

We get serious with a bottle of 2011 Langhe Nebbiolo from Paolo Conterno. Nebbiolo is one of my favourite versatile food friendly wines from the North of Italy. It is relatively light, but has a good amount of fruit balanced with savouriness, which needs food to bring out its best. Our next course is pork sausage nestled in lentils with preserved mandarin, pickled radishes, and horse radish. The combination is great, with the preserved mandarin lifting each taste, and nicely seasoned lentils perhaps cooked in a deeply flavoured stock, provide more than a filler.

For our pasta course, we have a generous serve of chicken and beef ravioli with a tomato sauce and plenty of Parmesan. The pasta is perfectly al dente with great bite to it, but even better is the filling which has been slow cooked, giving that meaty richness that is at another level than the usual. In fact, it brought back memories of some of the ragus that my friends Nonna’s had cooked for tasting in our Italian class during high school. At that time it was explained that the meat would be cooked for many hours and I can remember being intrigued by why anyone would go to that much trouble but the taste had me. We are in the cellar of one of the amazing Ambassadors of Victoria’s slow cooking movement and it shows.

Ravioli of chicken and beef with tomato

Ravioli of chicken and beef with tomato

Next comes yet another dish that I want to taste again right now. Simply presented, but incredibly beautiful, the goat is dished with fat roasted potatoes and garlic, and a side of crunchy green beans with parsley. This is as good as goat can get; a meat that I search for but rarely find on restaurant menus. The tenderness and deep flavour laced with fat but not dominating the taste is an expression of goat that I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying. And the Nebbiolo shines alongside.

Walnut tart

Walnut tart

Having learned a lot about Stefano’s leanings towards no fuss, highly flavoursome food, simply presented, we were not surprised that dessert was no different. The walnut tart is very similar to a pecan pie, with caramel and perfectly formed pastry combining to provide a deliciously simple dessert. This is the type of dessert course that is not seen enough. No deconstruction or pizazz; just a great sweet ending to the evening.

It’s not cheap, but the bill isn’t unreasonable for the quality of food being dished out, and is far less than when Jim was Executive Chef. Service is reasonable without being at the difficult to reach heights of Stefano’s food. After many years of wanting to try Stefano’s it will probably be a couple of years of wanting to come back. One thing is for sure, there will be no trip to Mildura and surrounds, without a journey down to the cellar.