For my partner’s birthday, I bought him a weekend in the Hunter Valley including Cold Chisel tickets at Hope Estate, 2 night’s accommodation and the degustation at Margans. I had wanted to visit this restaurant for many years, but it is located a little out of the Hunter Hub of Pokolbin, so I had never quite made it until last week.
They say the best things come to those who wait, and this case, it is certainly true. Margans has repeatedly won Best Restaurant in the national, state and local Tourism Awards, as well as making the Top 10 Regional NSW Restaurant List, winning Sustainable Restaurant of the Year in the SMH Good Food Guide and many other accolades. Their winery next door has also been awarded 5 stars by James Halliday every year since 2009.
Part of the charm here is the setting of course. It is surrounded by 100 hectares of vineyards and gardens, where they grow their own herbs, fruit and vegetables. They also have their own free range chickens, Black Suffolk lambs, bee hives for fresh unfiltered honey and olive groves.
The 5-course degustation is just the right amount of food for a large lunch, without feeling too full. And at $145 it is much cheaper than equivalent menus in Sydney. We made the most of the experience, by having the matched wines too. The summer menu has not been uploaded to their website yet, but it included: Garden beetroot with goats’ curd, rhubarb, cocoa and hazelnut; Salmon pastrami with cucumber, rye and kohlrabi; Glazed pork belly with pig’s ear, carrott, ginger and nashi pear; Smoked lamb with miso, eggplant, cauliflower puree and black sesame; and Garden strawberries with elderflower, champagne jelly and buttermilk granita. A cheese plate and/or vegetables from their garden are also available as extras. If you do not fancy the degustation, they also offer a 2/3 course set menu for $65/80, with 4 options for each course. They also suggest matching wines for each of the 12 options.
To be honest, the Cold Chisel tickets were simply an excuse to finally visit Margans, but don’t tell my partner! And it did not disappoint. I cannot find fault with anything. The service was perfect, as was the ambience and location. They have outdoor seating with panoramic views, but on the day we dined here, the aircon inside won. This restaurant it worthy of a trip to the Hunter in its own right.