May 22, 2018
Well known as one of Australia’s leading regional tourism destinations, the Barossa has also been a mecca for creative chefs, sommeliers and baristas looking for a change from urban life.
They have combined their experience in creating world-class dishes with the local European-influenced produce to develop a unique regional cuisine.
If you’re looking for the inside story on the best restaurants in the Barossa, from the finest dining experiences to simple lunches, breakfasts and coffee, here’s our advice on where to eat, drink…and become merrier in the Barossa.
Stumbling past this little shop front in Angaston’s main street one nearly does a double take – is this Milan or Florence or Bologna?
Born and raised in Forli, Italy, Matteo Carboni learnt how to make pasta from his nonna and after meeting his wine and food guru wife Fiona, they settled in the Barossa…where else?
While you can enjoy real Italian espresso and sourdough bruschetta for breakfast (opening at a civilised 9am) and a bowl of home-made pasta and Parmigiano at noon (Thursday to Saturday), the highlights for we locals are the three or four course Sunday long Italian lunch or the Friday night wine bar where you can match wines by the glass.
There is also the Italian cooking school where Matteo melds a small group of novices into ‘expert’ pasta and gnocchi makers, based around a regional menu from Piemonte, Tuscany or Veneto.
If it wasn’t for its vineyard views, this elegant restaurant with its timber floors and sharp-as-a tack front of house staff (led by maître d'hôtel Rami Heer) could be in Sydney or New York.
The food, by multi-award-winning chef Peter Clarke is the very best fusion of Australian cuisine this century – your own can of Ortiz anchovies on toasted ciabatta, seared snapper with lobster tortellini, or grilled rib eye to share are just some of his winter menu highlights.
Even though there are white tablecloths and five-star glassware you’re not charged Sydney prices, which is why the place is often packed with everyone from international visitors to local families, and loud winemakers.
The wine list features the Barossa’s finest and international favourites but don’t be scared to bring something special you found in your cellar door travels – Vintners is BYO for $20 a bottle ($25 on weekends).
It’s not what you’d expect to find in the Barossa but we’re lucky that South American chef Julian Velasquez decided to call the cute village of Greenock home and start cooking with fire.
Based on the philosophy of keeping things simple and honest, El Estanco’s modus operandi comes from the South American hole-in-the-wall tabaqueria where groceries, wine and market goods are sold. Eventually these stores became the place to gather, socialise, eat and love…which is what locals do at this Greenock café.
Every day from 8am there is unbelievable coffee and almond croissants, daily dining specials that are sourced from the restaurant garden (accompanied by local wines you may not have tried) and fortnightly there is a Friday evening wood fired pizza night (where bookings are highly recommended) and alternate Fridays they hold a themed night for those looking for something a little different.
If you’d expect our friend Maggie Beer’s daughter Elli to know a thing or two about food, you’d be right.
The Eatery is her new venture, and with talented chef Tim Bourke (ex-Kangaroo Island Southern Lodge), she’s providing another dimension to the adjacent drawcard Maggie’s Pheasant Farm Shop.
Open for lunch only, each dish is deliberately light and affordable with a carefully chosen assembly of flavours and textures – from gnocchi with cauliflower, green olives and raisins, to freshly made pasta with sorrel, almond pesto and ricotta…but it is a daily moving feast based on seasonality.
There’s a small local (and friends) wine list, but if you prefer something more spiritual Elli’s husband Brett Durand of Durand Distillery, also runs gin-making classes with lunch.
The Barossa seems to attract the most interesting international couplings – like former oboist with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Grant Dixon and self-taught Vietnamese born chef Tuoi Do, who opened this internationally acclaimed, Good Food Guide 2018 hatted, restaurant in Tanunda.
Two things worked from the start: Tuoi’s light, elegant Vietnamese dishes where fresh seafood, organic chicken and beef ingredients are accentuated rather than drowned by the primary flavours of fish sauce, lime juice, chilli, ginger, galangal and turmeric; and the fact that Grant has accumulated one of the biggest and best cellars of Australian and European wines in Australia. In fact, Ferment Asian was recently awarded three glasses in Gourmet Traveller Wine’s Wine List of the Year Award.
Our favourites are the Hanoi spring rolls bundled in fresh mint and coriander, and Barossa Hampshire pork belly – but the best advice we can give is ask for the Chef’s Tasting Menu of seven shared dishes, then sit back, enjoy a Saigon 333 beer and peruse the 92-page wine list.
For a romantic, white tablecloth dinner in gentle, soothing surrounds with superb food, Appellation defies every presumption about hotel restaurants.
But then The Louise, where Appellation nestles, is not just any hotel – it is one of the Luxury Lodges of Australia and a member of the Relais et Châteaux network of small boutique hotels.
The menu is locally sourced wherever possible and is a showcase of the Barossa's regional cuisine with fastidiously presented dishes such as local Berkshire pork with pickled carrot and cucumber and Hutton Vale lamb raised by local farming family The Angas'.
The wine list is also a virtual tour of the region's wineries and the staff will happily provide recommendations for cellar door visits and special tasting experiences.
Come early for a cocktail in the bar or stay the night so you only have to stumble a few metres to your luxury suite!
If you'd prefer something quick and delicious, you can also dine in the bar Monday to Friday. Their burgers are mouth-watering and very reasonably priced.
Locals and visitors alike love stopping for a light shared lunch at the stunning Harvest Kitchen.
Sitting at the foot of the hills between Angaston and Tanunda, this stylish yet relaxed family friendly restaurant is also home to the Artisans of Barossa cellar door, a conglomerate of excellent small producers from all over the Barossa.
Owned and operated by former MasterChef finalist Tracy Collins and her business partners Pete Little and Alex Potarzycki, Harvest Kitchen delivers consistently high quality, generous, seasonal and flavoursome food in a friendly and relaxed environment.
Their shared plates feature everything from baby beetroots with Persian feta, watercress and fresh horseradish, to beef carpaccio with red onion, gribiche and pickled radish. Make sure you try their famous pop-corn ice-cream and stay to taste wines from some of the regions finest small producers.
The Barossa Farmer’s Market doesn’t have stuffed toys, or leather hats or hand knitted beanies. It’s all about local regional produce fresh from the paddock or garden, a window on a continuing food tradition that dates back to European settlement in the 1840s.
We love the slightly imperfect, deliciously organic apples and pears, the home-baked sourdough and pastries still warm from the oven, the locally-raised, grass-fed meat, fresh milk and cream, honey, extra virgin olive oil…and loads more.
But it’s the breakfast that makes getting out of bed at 7am on a Saturday morning worthwhile – $11 buys you an Eleni Handmade bun packed with Gumshire bacon, Waechter’s free-range egg, caramelized onion, baby spinach, and any chutney or relish you like…and wash it down with a Bean Addiction fresh roasted coffee!
It doesn’t get any better than that on a fresh winter’s morning in Angaston.
The Eden Valley Hotel is a classic Australian country pub with big verandas to sit under in summer, and roaring fires to sit by in winter.
Much to our delight, it was recently purchased by Cassaly Fitzgerald, who grew up in the old pub many years ago, as the daughter of the Eden Valley Hotel’s former publicans.
A Barossa girl through and through, Cassaly is a highly educated Sommelier, with previous roles including front-of-house stints at local wineries and restaurants, most notably at Appellation, where she was heavily involved in guiding their award-winning wine list.
We expect great things from her recent take-over of this classic pub, with her refreshed menu already featuring deliciously warming winter pub meals like apple cider roast pork hock, and an 18 hour scotch fillet.