If you’ve heard about the McLaren Vale Wine Region, there’s a strong possibility that you would have heard of Penny’s Hill.
If not, brace yourself. This place is food and wine heaven.
Penny’s Hill Cellar Door and Kitchen Door Restaurant is located just out of the township of McLaren Vale, nestled between by lush vineyards and rolling hills.
The cellar door and restaurant has been recently updated, with the fitout and menu getting a new, fresh facelift. In the cellar door, you can expect a cosy, yet modern experience. There’s chesterfield couches, a wood fire and Fleurieu produce on offer for purchase. In terms of wine, the tasting list is long and filled with an amazing selection of bubbles, whites and reds (and a cheeky port or two).
The new menu, by chef Neil McGlew, is all about sharing and grazing- and we did exact that. The tapas style food covers everything from cured Seafood, charcuterie boards, to American style sandwiches. You’ll struggle to find something you won’t like.
We were all for sharing, so we selected 8 items from the ‘small plates’ menu. Items on the menu range from $2.50 (for oysters) to $48.00 for a full, 5 cheese Cheese board. There is also the ‘Feed Me’ options, where the chef selects the best of the day’s seasonal produce for $55.00. We paired our food with two bottles of our favourite wines off the menu- The Black Chook Sparkling Cuvee and the Penny’s Hill 2014 Footprint Shiraz.
We started with the Penny’s House Baked Bread and Butter, with a side of Citrus and Pepper Leaf Olives. The bread was super soft and went perfectly with the butter topped with Bee Pollen.
Up next was the Spiced School Prawns with Lemon Myrtle and Paprika Mayo and Beetroot Cured Salmon served with Horseradish snow, pickled shallots, parsley, celery and walnut salad. The school prawns were tiny and devoured very quickly, others at the table commenting on how delicious the paprika mayo was. The table was also head-over-heels in love with the Beetroot Cured Salmon, which was fresh and full of flavour.
Next was two of my favourite dishes- the Truffled Mac and Cheese cubes with truffled aioli and Sweet Potato and Quinoa bakes with thyme and goats cheese. These mac and cheese cubes, seriously, were SO DAMN GOOD. They were light and not oily, and the pasta was just a little cheesy. The truffled aioli was probably the highlight- I may have licked some off the knife.
To finish things off we were treated to the Ruben stack with house made pastrami, rye bread, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, special sauce and the Beef Tataki with ginger, radish and toasted sesame. The Ruben stack was like a sandwich straight out of an American delicatessen- the ample pastrami and sauerkraut were absolute winners (plus bonus points for the giant pickles on the side). As for the Tataki- I didn’t think I would be a fan but I am well and truly converted. The beef was served rare and literally melted in my mouth, we all could have eaten in 10 times over.
No meal is ever complete without dessert no matter how full you are, so of course we had to make room. Three of us ordered the Chocolate Brownie served with Pistachio Gelato and the other half ordered the Lemon Possett with strawberry and bush pepper coulis and honeycomb. The brownie was super rich and was served with a thick chocolaty port sauce. The Lemon Possett was super light and zesty- I admit I had massive dessert envy.
If you’re looking for a place for a long lunch, sneaky glass (or two) of vino, tasting or function you need to get down to Penny’s Hill. The staff here are efficient, friendly and always look after you. We can’t wait to come back!
You can find Penny’s Hill Cellar Door and Kitchen Door Restaurant at 281 Main Road, Mclaren Vale.