“Take a photo, it lasts longer”. A wise piece of advice if I ever heard one, even if it is more often found in the context of being shrieked at unsuspecting leerers peering down girls’ shirts. As you may have noticed, there was a lot to photograph at Margan. While in the Hunter Valley for the Elton John concert, knowing that there probably wouldn’t be another quiet minute for the rest of the weekend, I set myself the task of finding the best restaurant for a relaxing lunch amongst the vineyards.
The Hunter Valley has a surprisingly quality selection of dining options, but when I found Margan I knew it was the one. Offering filtered rainwater, a certification from the Green Table Australia program, home made pastas, butter, cheeses, wines, home grown veggies and eggs from chickens who “very kindly supply” them out back, how could I possibly resist? And they won the Sustainable Restaurant Award (Good Food Guide 2011), as well as a slew of other accolades for their restaurant and wines in recent years since they opened in 2007.
We arrive and take the long way around the property in search of the restaurant, catching a glimpse of the veggie garden and chicken shed on the way through, as well as the divine back-drop of mountains on the horizon. As quickly as we are seated we are back up again to sample the wines at the cellar door, trying to choose an accompaniment for meals we haven’t yet decided on. With some expert advice from some very laid-back sommeliers behind the bar, we go for the See Saw Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, a joint venture from Andrew Margan of Margan Family Winegrowers & Hamish MacGowan of Angus The Bull fame.
An amuse bouche of Potato Soup and Pangrattato whets the appetitie while we wait for our Crusty Ciabatta served with fresh pressed olive oil & aged balsamic and (usually or but in our case we couldn’t decide) freshly churned cultured butter. Straight from the fridge, the butter is a little hard at first, but within minutes has melted into a soft, velvety, spreadable texture with crunchy black rock salt atop.
With two vegetarian options available, but one being only entrée sized, it makes sense to order Hand Knotted Buffalo Mozzarella with broad beans, piquillo peppers and salsa salmoriglio to share. Well, it makes sense to me, and thankfully as a cheese fan the meat eater obliges. Even looking at the emulsion of oil and pepper reduction in the photo the colours and textures appear beautifully. The meat eater suggests this tastes like pizza. I have to agree he’s a tiny bit correct, but perhaps the kind you might find in a back alley in Venice and not of the Domino’s variety.
Handmade Tagliatelle with organic chick peas, king brown mushroom and poached egg, also with pangrattato, has complex flavours and the mushroom is strong and rich with a familiar earthy flavour. The pasta is soft and thick, very well made, and I am even brave enough to have a small bite of the egg, although it lays to the side after that.
I then become obsessed with the dessert. Personally I would never have selected the Lemon Tart, Lime Cloud, Candied Clementine and Raspberry Syrup, but after arranging to have the “lime cloud” containing gelatine served on the side, I am so glad we have. The colours are unbelievable and although very simple, the presentation just does it for me.
The board above the kitchen pass-through has a hand-written list of all the produce which is currently being used from the garden and the various home made selections available. This is enough to inspire a photographic tour of the veggie patch and chicken coop which lies just outside the door. Check out more photos of Margan and the Hunter Valley.
It’s clear the folks at Margan are serious about food. I wish I could cut and paste the entire menu but shall instead leave you to peruse it for yourselves. Having had plenty of rain in recent weeks, everything is green and lush and as the website suggests, they have a “range of vegetables, have trees in the orchard, an olive grove & especially love to use heirloom seeds for novelty (everything old is new again) and good old fashioned flavour.” Everything about the concept appeals to my sensibilities.
With the kitchen headed by Chef Josh Davidson, Dee-Ann Heath leading the Restaurant floor team and Andrew Margan as winemaker, it appears they have found the perfect balance. Cheers!
(02) 6579 1102
1238 Milbrodale Road, Broke, New South Wales 2330