This article is sponsored by Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.
No matter what the time of year, the food of the Hunter Valley is delightfully peppered with a delicious dose of seasonal produce. This plethora of tastes and textures and the huge variety of ingredients, makes it one of Australia’s finest dining regions.
With so many world-class gastronomic establishments to choose from, here is some food-for-thought for ten of the best on offer.
Refined dining at Redsalt Restaurant
A breakfast buffet paradise by day and a polished white tablecloth dining experience by night, Crowne Plaza’s Redsalt Restaurant is certainly the place to dine on an indulgent meal.
A location on the second floor of the hotel means your dining experience is one with a view of the 18-hole championship golf course, regional NSW’s largest outdoor solar heated swimming pool and romantic vineyard surrounds.
This sophisticated eatery is renowned for its tempting regional flavours and you can choose from tender beef, lamb, kangaroo, fish or pasta.
Be mesmerised as innovative dishes are prepared by Redsalt’s talented chefs, via the open kitchen layout.
Those staying overnight have the privilege of waking up to a hearty breakfast buffet – touted as one of the best in the region.
Your breakfast possibilities are endless. Choose from the fresh juice station, hot and cold dishes, eggs made to order and some delicious gluten-free options.
Standout – Try the Dukkah Crusted Kangaroo Fillet with beetroot mash, braised silver-beet and Agro Dolce sauce – one of many inventive dishes on Redsalt’s new menu.
2. Unwind at The Lovedale
With a totally different vibe to Redsalt Restaurant, The Lovedale Bar at Crowne Plaza is a more casual dining alternative.
Relaxed and with wide appeal, the Lovedale is a bar, restaurant and – with The Lovedale Brewery and Distillery right next door – a brewery all in one where the drinks are chilled, and so is the atmosphere.
Tantalising meals are available and the choice is excellent.
Why not try some share plates and pizzas – a great way to get as many tastes as you can in one sitting.
Choose from a range of fresh, healthy salads or if hungry try a larger plate or something from the grill.
Throughout the month nightly specials are introduced to keep it interesting.
Standout – Super chill beers are a standout at the Lovedale. Try the brewery’s latest concoction, the East Coast IPA, a hazy-looking beer that has an intense tropical hop, aroma and flavour. Delicious!
3. Get the EXPerience
The focus at EXP is to create a dining experience bar none with exquisite food, ambience and a little interaction.
Even the dining room pays homage to the Hunter area with hand crafted local furniture that is both comfortable and fashionable.
Peruse the wine list which is overflowing with the unique, distinct premium handcrafted delights of the Oakvale Winery, a great example of the wines of the region and the excellence that comes with an uncompromising approach to winemaking.
Standout – Why not try the Redgate Farm Quail with plum and beetroot. The largest quail grown for the table worldwide, Redgate Farm Quail have featured on menus in the best restaurants in the country.
4. MUSE over a meal at this gourmet paradise
Top-notch eatery, Muse, is still firm favourite for Hunter Valley foodies.
Muse takes seasonal to the next level with its high quality menu.
Run by husband and wife team Troy and Megan Rhoades-Brown, Muse offers fresh contemporary dishes.
While making the most of what is available in the Hunter, the restaurant also uses produce from an onsite farm garden and their own home vegetable patches.
These gardens supply heirloom vegetables, edible flowers and herbs for their delectable offerings.
Dishes are exciting without being overly complicated and all show technique, restraint and respect.
Standout – Gracing the autumn menu, try the wood fired Upper Hunter Wagyu beef served with black beauty zucchini, kombu, nasturtium, black garlic.
5. Amanda's on the Edge brings some zest and spice
As you would expect with a name like this, there is a magnificent view from every table of this charming restaurant, located on the hill of Windsor’s Edge Vineyard in Pokolbin.
Mouth-watering and simple, the food at Amanda’s on the Edge has a stylish Australian twist which features premium-quality meats, seafood, and specially grown herbs and garnishes.
Natural produce is highlighted by adding a touch of spice, a splash of zest, a hint of citrus, or a drizzle of dressing to create mouth-watering dishes.
Standout – Dessert board. The dessert board at Amanda’s will dazzle any sweet tooth with its array of panacottas, gelato, mousse, puddings, tarts, jellies and cakes.
6. Lillino's Bar and Trattoria is a touch of Italy
Lillino’s Bar and Trattoria unites the best of the Hunter Valley with the flavours from Sardinia and Italy
This stunning restaurant is situated above the vines of St Clements Estate which opened its cellar door in 2010 and is now producing some award winning wines.
While using as many local ingredients as possible, Lillino’s also imports the finest elements from Italy, such as Prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella, parmesan and even pizza flour directly from Napoli.
Enjoy the best wood fire pizzas in the Hunter or delicious potato gnocchi with a creamy gorgonzola sauce.
Standout – Why not go for a Sardinian favourite, Capesante – grilled scallops wrapped in pancetta, topped with caramelised lemon rind and deglazed with homemade limoncello liqueur – a true taste of Italy.
7. Circa 1876 brings it into a new century
Executive chef Trent Barrett and his team at Circa 1876 were winners of the 2017 NSW Regional Fine Dining award from Savour Australia for good reason.
This iconic Hunter Valley restaurant has recently moved away from a la carte and instead created some fabulous two-course, three-course, five-course and seven course chef’s tasting menu options.
Circa 1876 is a grand example of bringing the farm-to-fork ethos to life with the organic garden from which the food comes from, directly outside the diner’s window. Even the delightfully delicate quail eggs are freshly gathered from their resident Japanese quails.
Standout – As pretty as a picture, try the Two Parts Duck – Seared Duck Breast, Slow Cooked Duck Egg, Fresh Black Truffle, Truffle Potato Foam, Asparagus and Jamón.
8. The Cellar Restaurant
The Cellar Restaurant has a long-standing reputation for excellence and is a favourite with locals and visitors alike.
Specialising in rustic Mediterranean cuisine in elegant but relaxed surroundings, the Cellar has a focus on quality steaks and other meats, poultry and fish, all cooked on the chargrill.
There's a great Hunter focused wine list too!
Experience the umbrella shaded, wisteria surrounded courtyard which is perfect for a long lunch.
Standout – Try the chargrilled quail with porcini gnocchi, pickled mushrooms and walnut.
9. Blaxlands Inn for some country hospitality
Blaxlands Inn provides country comfort and is renowned for its hearty meals and boutique wines.
Enjoy a table on the outside verandah as you dine under the stars or by the open fire pit out the front of the venue.
Famous for their steak, Blaxlands serve a spiced rubbed sirloin steak sandwich at lunch that will keep you going till dinner time.
Blaxlands Inn is situated on a property with period ambience but modern comfort and conveniences.
Standout – A crowd favourite at Blaxlands Inn are the sizzling camp oven garlic prawns. These succulent crustaceans are cooked in garlic butter and shallots and are served with rice and lightly toasted croutons.
10. Restaurant Botanica at Spicers Vineyard Estate
The menu at Restaurant Botanica celebrates its culinary connection with the land.
The sophisticated contemporary cuisine has at its heart many of the herbs and vegetables from the restaurant’s own kitchen garden that add a wholesome and healthy dimension to the dishes.
All this goodness is perfectly complemented by an award-winning wine list and stunning views looking out across a picturesque vineyard to the Brokenback Mountain Range.
Botanica also offers menus for vegetarians and vegan customers.
Standout – Juicy and tender is Botanica’s Wagyu beef cheek, with tomato, pea, mint and goats curd.
This winter, taste your way through the Hunter Valley and why not try a few of these suggestions as you go.
This article is sponsored by Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.