Sydney Road Trip: Margan, Hunter Valley
So, this blog post means I have to admit (again) how far behind I am on my reviews. For my birthday back in August, Boyfriend surprised me with a trip away to the Hunter Valley. We had the most wonderful weekend relaxing and exploring the area, and I felt very lucky indeed.
It’s tradition for each of our birthdays to take the other to a restaurant for dinner, kept a secret until the last minute. (Which, doesn’t always happen that way. Especially if I’m the one that’s meant to be keeping the secret.) Last year, Boyfriend took me to Chiswick and I took him to 4Fourteen.
This year my surprise birthday trip meant that my birthday dinner with Boyfriend took place in the Hunter Valley. Boyfriend researched long and hard and finally chose Margan Restaurant in Broke. Margan Restaurant is part of the family-owned Margan winery and has won multiple awards.
I’m glad Boyfriend chose this restaurant because Margan was not only an absolutely beautiful venue, but we had one of the best dinners we’ve had – I’m going to go ahead and say ever – at Margan Restaurant.
It was a long drive from where we were staying in Pokolbin to Margan, through the country roads. Being winter it was dark when we arrived and hard to make out what our surroundings (which included the vineyards) looked like. But from what we could see, I have no doubt that in daylight, it’s beautiful.
It was definitely stunning inside, the building made from rammed earth and filled with wine barrels and tables covered in simple white table cloths. There was also a fire glowing in the corner.
The menu is designed to incorporate local, seasonal produce. It also uses as much from the Margan Kitchen Garden as possible, which means that the menu changes regularly. Some items, such as the sides, change every day.
This seasonal menu offers a five course degustation menu for $95.00 per person, or a tasting menu of three courses for $65.00 per person. You can either allocate dessert to one of these three courses or purchase it separately for $16.00. Sides are also separate and cost $8.00 each.
By the time I got around to writing this post, the menu had changed from Winter to Spring. Embarrassingly enough, I had to ask Margan to send me the old menu so I could properly write about the food and they were kind enough to oblige. So, my delay in posting means the food we ate you won’t be able to get if you go, but I’m certain that whenever you go, Margan will be offering you something absolutely delicious.
We opted for the three course tasting menu, which meant we could pick six different dishes altogether. Like my last post, each dish was absolutely amazing. Every individual element was incredible, and as a whole everything was perfect. So, like last time, instead of going on and on about it all, I’m going to let the pictures do the talking.
Before any of the courses arrived, we were given bread (complimentary) which is homemade on the premises, served with black salt butter.
We were then also given an amuse-bouche of Asian-style enoki mushroom broth. This was a pleasant surprise and so, so tasty.
Then, the six different dishes of absolute deliciousness began…
Butter poached chicken, spanner crab, tarragon and charred leek
Smoked, fresh and pickled garden vegetables, herb oil and buttermilk
Risotto of seasonal mushrooms, crème fraiche and rosemary
Roast Red Gate Farm duck breast, parfait, date and chamomile
Local partridge, caramelised carrot, Jerusalem artichoke and` hazelnut
Skate wing, scallop, beurre noisette, capers, raisin and preserved lemon
If I had to choose a favourite, it’s a tough call but I’d have to go with the risotto. It’s probably the best risotto I’ve ever had and the fact that I had to share it with Boyfriend killed me a little inside. Lucky he’s worth it.
We also ordered one of the daily sides, the beetroot and walnut salad. This was so good, I could not stop eating it.
It didn’t end there for us. We couldn’t leave without ordering a dessert.
Before the dessert arrived, we were each given another amuse-bouche (is there a dessert word for amuse-bouche?). Another pleasant surprise! This dessert amuse-bouche consisted of honeycomb, praline and panna cotta. This crunchy-soft-salty-sweet combo was delicious.
The dessert we ordered was the Zokoko milk and dark chocolate, mandarin, coconut & cardamom. Like everything we’d eaten so far, it was amazing. There were so many different textures and the combination of citrus, sweet and the bitter, dark chocolate flavours worked perfectly.
After dinner, Boyfriend ordered a machiato and we were given another surprise, this time chocolate truffles.
We left feeling very, very happy with the overall experience of dining at Margan and also very full. I can’t tell you enough how delicious everything was.
This isn’t a restaurant many people I know have heard of. Every person I told hadn’t heard of it and I think that’s a real shame as Margan is one of the nicest restaurants I have been to. The staff were so lovely, friendly and attentive, the atmosphere was superb and the food outstanding. There were so many added extras, you could really tell that Margan cares about local and seasonal produce and making sure their guests get to try as much as of it possible.
If you are planning a trip to the Hunter Valley, I would definitely recommend paying Margan a visit. Their lunch menu is very similar to the dinner menu (but without the tasting courses option), and I can’t vouch for their breakfast, but the breakfast menu certainly was enticing and I bet Margan looks even more gorgeous in daylight.
Would I go again? Next time I’m in the Hunter Valley, I will definitely be back.