South Australian Beauty
Set on a 60-hectare property in the Barossa Valley is where you’ll find Hentley Farm – one of the South Australian countryside’s most charming contemporary restaurants that leans on foraging and native ingredients to help steer its culinary ethos.
Under the watchful eye of chef Lachlan Colwill – a rotating line up of eight cooks help to deliver a set menu or allow you to opt into the surprise package depending on your mood.
This is where snapper ceviche, eggshells filled with apple and yoghurt, quail eggs, heritage beef and local duck is aged in their care for your dining pleasure.
Hentley Farm has made a name for itself as a leader who likes to show off the produce of its region. You’ll find chef Shane Wilson starting his day by driving 40 minutes out to the hills to handpick mushrooms which will be featured in the evening’s menu if seasonality permits.
“What I love most is how close we are to everything. I could also head beachside in 40 minutes and find totally different produce I can also put into the menu,” says Shane Wilson who works closely with Lachlan Colwill to create the menu.
“I have a huge interest in foraging and it comes through in my native Australian cuisine as well. While it’s not a huge part of the picture, it quietly creeps in there,” he adds.
“The idea of starting the day by picking something which will end up on your plate is a reminder that there is a mindful approach to what we do, and it’s about supporting locals and showcasing the best the region has to offer,” says Wilson.
A meal at the Farm always begins with the freshest of seafood. From Southern blue fin tuna from Port Lincoln [a signature dish] to oysters or prawns grilled over coal, it’s about introducing interesting flavour combinations without overpowering the palette.
“We hope to deliver something you haven’t tried before,” says Wilson. “Right now, the biggest trend in food is simplicity – big on simple flavours yet interesting ones.”
The Barossa Valley is known for its cured meats, passion for pickling and getting sticky with preserved jams and while they all find a place and purpose on the menu, Hentley Farm also pride’s itself on using high quality meats such as the Angus Beef. The rare English Longhorn – which was introduced to the region four years ago – became available for use by the restaurant chefs around two years ago.
“We deal directly with the wholesaler and know where the product is coming from,” says Wilson. “There’s an authenticity to it all – we all know each other and try to bring the best to the customer.”
Chefs are part of the entertainment package too – more than just getting the meals out of the kitchen, they come to serve the finishing touches to some of the plates and interact with the diners which is a democratic touch.
While some chefs wouldn’t dream of coming out to be seen or heard beyond their staffing quarters, the laidback style puts a new spin on modern dining and it fits in nicely with the energy of the barn life here.
And then there’s the Hentley Farm cellar door, housed in the property’s original 1840s homestead. There’s a tasting room, a gallery to surround yourself with the works on show by a local artist and the dining room is an ideal place to book for the ultimate tasting experience.
Known for its world class wines, the Barossa has become a hub for the gourmet hunter and gatherer from produce to wine, but when you visit Hentley, be sure to strike up a conversation with their award-winning wine maker Andrew Qui [he took out the Barossa 2017 Winemaker of the Year] for some guidance. Make sure you sample their best shiraz [The Beauty] and the other [The Beast] and if you’re ready to splurge consider the Clos Otto Shiraz from 2005 for a neat $1000 per bottle.
Chef Lachlan Colwill has mastered a fine reputation for his degustation menus which has seen city foodies head to the hills and fall head over in love with his modern kitchen verve. His signature style is so popular he even brought a touch of Hentley to Maha [that’s Shane Delia’s Melbourne restaurant] for a country in the city experience in May [and we hope there’s more to come].
Whether you plug into the two-hour express meal or the four-hour choice, you won’t be disappointed with the impressive line-up of dishes that make you glad you came along for the road trip. What’s more they were awarded two hats in the National Edition of the Good Food Guide this year – so go visit to see what the fuss is all about.
How to get there:
Hentley Farm is on the northern side of the Barossa Valley and is easily accessed by car, being only an hour’s drive northeast of Adelaide.
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