Visitors to the Hunter are also spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out.
Bistro Molines in Mount View, a quiet corner of the Hunter Valley, is set high in the hills with dramatic vistas of vineyard rolling hills and neighbouring farms. Chef Robbie Molines, a Hunter veteran, serves hearty French-accented food (think maybe a venison pie, or twice-roasted local duckling) and features a temptingly global wine list. www.bistromolines.com.au.
Muse Restaurant (pictured right) at Hungerford Hill is a top-notch winery restaurant where chef Troy Rhoades-Brown offers a stylish dining experience with innovative modern Australian dishes. There are also several wine and food-matching options. Also sample the more casual Muse Kitchen at the Keith Tulloch cellar door. www.musedining.com.au.
Margan Tasting Room and Restaurant offers the chance to dine inside or out, while enjoying dishes where modern Australian cuisine meets the Mediterranean, and many of the vegetables and herbs you’ll eat are grown on site. Check out the Artisan Producers Dinner here at 6.30pm on June 27th, which gives diners the opportunity to sample the Hunter’s best regional produce, meet growers and enjoy a five-course degustation by chef Michael Robinson featuring Pepe Saya butter and Olsson’s salt. Of course, a selection of Margan wines will match each course ($125 per person, bookings essential). www.margan.com.au.
Restaurant Botanica (pictured right) is part of Spicers Vineyard Estate, a laidback resort with just 12 rooms. Botanica is a favourite with in-the-know Hunter locals. It highlights mod Oz cuisine paired with a wine list that highlights local boutique offerings and some enticing imports. www.spicersgroup.com.au.
The Beltree is a well-kept Hunter secret, serving delicious Italian food in a rustic ambience. Think dishes like gnocchi in a duck and porcini ragu. www.beltree.com.au.
RidgeView Restaurant (pictured at top) is home to executive chef Donna Hollis who uses organic seasonal produce for her Mediterranean and Middle Eastern inspired menu. The restaurant will be running Chef’s Plate lunches during Food and Wine month, Thursday through Sunday from 12pm, serving up Cypriot style lamb and chicken souvlaki on a tomato caraway puree with cinnamon sweet potato, tzatziki and Greek salad matched with a glass of wine ($39 per person). www.ridgeview.com.au.
Esca Bimbadgen (pictured right) is a long-time Hunter favourite combining good food, friendly service and terrific views (www.bimbadgen.com.au), while Roberts Circa 1876 is another reliably good option, along with Chez Pok at Peppers Guest House, which has been re-born with executive chef John Edwards using fresh local ingredients with a French accent and wines from traditional and new generation local winemakers.
Villa du Pays restaurant at Leogate Estate serves sophisticated food in elegant surroundings. Owners Bill and Vicki Widin supply the export-quality Black Angus beef direct from their herd in northern New South Wales and have their own dry-aging room on site, while chef Emerson Rodriguez, who has worked at several Hunter restaurants, has also opened his new Emerson’s eatery at Adina winery.
Words: Winsor Dobbin