Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Restaurant Botanica, Hunter Valley – an amazing gluten free dining experience!

On our last night in the Hunter Valley we wanted to indulge in some of the five star quality food that the region is known for. Not only famous for it’s wine, the Hunter Valley also boasts local, fresh produce and to top it off picturesque scenery.

We had heard about Restaurant Botanica by a friend who lives in the area, so called up to make a booking and enquired about the gluten free options. We were told that there were lots of gluten free meals to choose from on the menu and that it wouldn’t be a problem, but that they would include it in our reservation anyway. Tick! I was excited about our upcoming dinner already!

Restaurant Botanica is the on-site restaurant of the Award-Winning Spicers Vineyard Estate. We arrived at the restaurant for dinner before the sun had set, so got to take in the gorgeous scenery. Restaurant Botanica is nestled in a gorgeous cottage like room complete with a glass wall of windows overlooking the vineyards. We were shown to our table, and luckily got to sit by the window to take in the views.

After we were seated, the lovely waiter asked us if we had been to Restaurat Botanica before. As this was our first time he explained to us about the freshness of the produce and the use of the vegetable and herb garden located on-site. Produce is picked daily and provides inspiration for the seasonal changing menu. Our waiter then asked who at the table was gluten free? Bonus points! He explained to me that most of the menu could be created gluten free minus the gnocchi.

The menu is set up into either a 2 course experience ($63 per person) or a 3 course experience ($75 per person). We chose to go with the 3 course option as I just can’t go past dessert and I wasn’t in the mood for sharing hehe

We were served some delicious gluten free bread with olive oil as we waited for our meal to be brought out. I was feeling extremely excited about our meal and happy with my choice of food (lets just say it was a hard decision with all the yummy gluten free options!) 

As we sipped on our wine, talking about how great our weekend had already been, the waiter brought us out an amuse-bouche of creamy asparagus soup to start off the meal. Traditionally an amuse-bouche is a complimentary small starter to the meal to show case the chefs skills and show a glimpse into the chef's approach to the art of cuisine. I was assured that it was gluten free and it was absolutely delicious and light. A great start to what we had in store for the rest of the night. Even my partner who doesn’t usually like asparagus enjoyed it.

For entrée I ordered the gluten free Crispy Skinned Ocean Trout served with lime, pickled green paw paw, pork belly, spice roasted peanuts, coriander, and mint. The trout was fresh and juicy, and the flavours were absolutely delicious and bursting in my mouth!

As I looked over to my partners’ plate of Seared Scallops, with celeriac cream, garden peas and shaved fennel, I felt like I needed to try this also. So I asked the waiter if this dish was also gluten free? And as a matter of fact the chef had created both the dishes gluten free in-case I too wanted to try some. How lovely and considerate of him! The scallops were also fresh and delicious.

For main I ordered the gluten free White River Veal served with Botanica's pancetta (yes they farm their own pigs located on the property…you can’t get much fresher than that), orange and fennel, and pistachio gremolata. This dish was also bursting with flavour and all the elements worked so well together. The veal was cooked to perfection, the orange and fennel salad light and refreshing, and the pistachio gremolata was just out of this world! Yum! Yum! Yum!

My partner ordered the house Pork Belly served with quince paste, goats curd, and garden greens. This was also delicious. All the elements worked lovely and the crackling was top-notch crunchy…exactly what you want from a good quality pork crackling!

To top off a sensational meal we ordered the gluten free Vacherin Splice. We both ordered the same so neither of us would have dessert envy ;) The best way to describe this dessert heaven is layered meringue, lemon sorbet, ice-cream and pineapple sorbet. Thin layers of meringue in-between each layer just gave it enough sweetness in-between the tartness of the sorbet. Yummy!!!

And just when we thought we had eaten enough for the night, we were served two complimentary gluten free Chocolate Truffles from the chef!

I would highly recommend Restaurant Botanica for anybody visiting the Hunter Valley. The food was sensational and the service was professional and superb. The most important thing to me was the chefs’ knowledge of gluten free food and making sure that I was catered for every step of the meal. And I love that the produce was freshly picked from the garden! All in all a wonderful night to end our Hunter Valley weekend.

Restaurant Botanica at Spicers Vineyards Estate
555 Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin NSW
1300 192 868

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