401-427 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin, Hunter Valley, NSW
We arrived ... in a blustery hot wind, not usually seen in the Hunter Valley until August. "Au-gust," our waiter jests, sharing that's what his grandmother calls the warm breeze that whips through the valley, typically ahead of spring.
We started with ... a glass of the Graveyard Shiraz - despite the region being renowned for its semillion, it felt like a day for a red. With its deep plum and cherry notes, this was a real palate-kicker ahead of a plate of Shoalhaven oysters served with sherry and eschalot vinaigrette.
We chose here because ... we were staying in the Hunter Valley, the wine region just north of Sydney, courtesy of Destination New South Wales tourism. Brokenwood is a large-scale winery reached via quiet, gum-tree flanked roads and set in peaceful surrounds. It's home to award-winning wines and recently opened restaurant The Wood.
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Our first impression was ... how nice it is to be indoors and out of that wild wind - we'd just narrowly missed a falling tree branch on the drive in. With large glass windows to take in the views, the restaurant is light and modern with lots of wood and rustic fixtures, creating warmth without being stuffy.
The menu ... has a strong focus on seafood, peppered with French elements and local produce. From market fish, clams and spanner crab to braised lamb shoulder and steak with smoked bone marrow and cafe de Paris butter, it's a well-balanced offering of light, fresh fare among substantial dishes.
The highlight was ... the whisky cured salmon crudo. A bright, pretty dish, we were impressed by the generously thick slices of pink fish dotted with razorback prawns, hot horseradish yoghurt and pickled shimeji mushrooms.
Dessert ... was almost turned down. Full from a plate of polenta, mushrooms and truffle pecorino, our waiter urged us not to pass up the chance to try the chargrilled pineapple with coconut sorbet and aleppo pepper. And we were glad we agreed to squeeze it in: a real winner visually as well, the pepper's spice and the fruit's tart bite made for a perfect marriage against the tropical cream sorbet.
The bill ... Came to A$123. We went for one item from each section of the menu and found it to be plenty for two.