Dined at Esca Bimbadgen on a beautiful sunny winter’s day recently. The Hunter Valley was a picture and we were able to enjoy it to advantage with a wonderful pre-lunch overflight in a Slattery’s Helicopter.
It is now a little over two years since we last dined at this modern restaurant and one of the few Valley restaurants that opens for Monday lunch. Table settings and furnishing were pristine and caught the light from the establishment’s surrounding windows that highlight the Valley. The focus on excellent local produce and Bimbadgen wines remains the same and the new chef, Jonathan Heath, seems to be keen to take the restaurant on to new heights. If our last visit was anything to go by, he had a very good starting point.
The winter menu offers a well-priced tasting plate featuring three tastings per plate. Each tasting is matched with a wine that highlights the tasting. Our tastings included spatchcock terrine, beef carpaccio, beef sirloin, smoked duck breast and garden pea brulee. Tastings were winter dishes, well prepared and presented. Of the six fine wines that accompanied our tastings, the standouts were the Bimbadgen Regions 2012 Gewürztraminer and the Bimbadgen Signature 2011 McDonalds Road Shiraz. Both were in a class of their own.
The Shiraz was so good that we chose it again to accompany the wonderful cheese plate that topped off our lunch.
For those choosing the tasting plate, remember they are tastings. If you really want to lock horns with a dish, you would be better off ordering an entrée and/or a main.
Again, we had another fine meal at Esca and would return for the right occasion.
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