Last weekend I was fortunate enough to dine at one of South Australia’s finest culinary gems, Hentley Farm. Located in the Barossa Valley, the award-winning restaurant is surrounded by a sea of vineyards and verdantly green foothills. With its timber-laden roof and blue-stone walls, the building itself can only be described as rustic heritage with a hint of contemporary chic. Upon arrival, you’ll be warmly welcomed by the friendly wait staff and seated at a simply dressed, polished wooden table. Indeed the atmosphere is unpretentious, intimate, and all-embracing.
Barossa born-and-bred head chef, Lachlan Colwill, and his skilful team of chefs will take you (and your palate) on a sophisticated culinary journey. Using fresh, seasonal ingredients, Colwill seizes the chance to showcase a fine range of local Barossa-sourced produce. The eclectic menu offers a variety of contrasting dishes, each oozing with intense flavours and aromas.
There’s simplicity in the scallops, which are presented as though they’ve been plucked straight from the seabed, doused in a perfectly balanced marinade of virgin soy and punchy wasabi.
In contrast, the oysters are presented in cast-iron pots and even the most hard-nosed of people will become mesmerised by the cloud of fine smoke that blankets the table as liquid nitrogen is poured over the dish.
After the first few entrees are rolled out it becomes apparent that Colwill enjoys experimenting with different textures, colours, and robust flavours. I mean, who would ever have thought to combine a melt-in-your-mouth piece of seared tuna with chicken liver parfait, a crisp lettuce leaf, and speckles of egg yolk? That sort of combination would never have come to me in my wildest dreams! But (much to my surprise) it worked, and my god it was good. Ambrosial even.
By the time dessert comes around, there is no room for guilt, only pleasure. Looks of confusion were shared across the table as two small eggs were placed down in front of each of us. But looks can be deceiving, and I was pleasantly surprised by the delicate taste of passionfruit and creamy yoghurt as I spooned the first scoop into my mouth.
The final hurrah came in the form of a masterfully plated mandarin cake, packed with citrusy goodness which was dulcified by small fragments of home-made chocolate and topped with crispy artichoke skin. Heavenly.
Hentley farm was a truly unique experience for me, one that I am lucky to have had. It opened my eyes to a world of flavours, textures, smells, and sights that I never knew could exist on a plate, and I hope that one day I will dine there again. Until then, the memory of incredibly good food and plenty of sumptuous wine (maybe a bit too much) will remain with me for years to come.
Standout dish: seared tuna with chicken liver, egg yolk, iceberg lettuce and sunflower
Standout wine: 2017 Hentley Farm Rose
Address: Cnr Geral Roberts & Jenke Roads, Seppeltsfield, SA
Lunch: Thursday-Sunday noon-3pm
Dinner: Friday-Saturday 6:30pm-9:30pm
De Jour menu: $115 or $160 (with wines)
Discovery menu: $190 or $265 (with wines)
Phone: (08) 8562 8427