The old Minchinbury Winery
The Distillery Woodfire Restaurant, built on the old Minchinbury Winery Estate, is a brand spanking new eatery in Minchinbury Estate, and already it is attracting a lot of foodies and followers on Facebook.
The Estate was named after Principal Superintendent of Police William Minchin who was granted 1000 acres of land that was named after him. When he died, the Estate passed onto his sole heir Maria Matilda. Unfortunately, Maria and her family were lost at sea in 1838. In 1859 Dr Charles McKay purchased the Estate and established vineyards and cellars and for the next 20 years he bought many of the neighbouring properties. In 1890 James Angus purchased the Estate and by 1901 his sparkling wines (which he made with Leo Buring) were winning awards. In 1912, Penfolds Pty Ltd purchased all of his land and added most of the existing buildings. During Penfold's ownership, Minchinbury Winery became famous for its champagne until operations stopped in 1978 when they relocated to Tempe. The cellars were used for storage until the land was acquired by Landcom and parts of the land turned into a housing estate.
The Distillery buildings lay vacant during the 1980s and the buildings suffered from decay, vandalism, and water damage. Over time the buildings were repaired and conserved, and today, parts of the old Distillery is on display for visitors as part of a "heritage walk" amongst very modern townhouses and modern Restaurant. We enjoyed taking a little tour after our meal to see the equipment that was used in making wines and marvelled at the beehive well, a type of well in use at the time. The western wall, which was part of the original main entry of the winery, is still standing as well, where it once had the Angus family crests above it with the motto "Fortis Est Veritas", latin for "Truth is Strong".
The Heritage Trail
What I loved about the Restaurant is that some of the produce is grown on the land, in massive planters around the property. They grow edible flowers (flowers!), different types of lettuce and herbs, which they use in their dishes. The waitress actually told us that they grow so much lettuce that they're selling it, and asked us if we'd like to buy some.
The menu is a crowd pleaser with items such as burgers, pastas, risottos, schnitzels and steaks. I think the best way to describe the food is a marriage of good old pub food with exotic flavours, which is perfect for the demographics in Minchinbury as it caters for lovers of multicultural food as well as traditional pub grub.
Some of the produce growing in planters
We ordered bruschetta ($9.50) for starters and I was very surprised at an unusual addition – pomegranate seeds! Another surprise addition was grated feta cheese. The pomegranate seeds added a beautiful crunch and the cheese gave it a more intense savoury taste. Definitely the best bruschetta I've had.
For mains I ordered Lamb and corn burger with tomato chilli chutney, pickled baby cucumber, watercress on brioche bun with chunky chips ($17) and the other half ordered pumpkin risotto with sundried tomato, baby rocket, goat cheese and pine nuts ($18).
Lamb and corn burger
I loved the lamb and corn burger – the taste was a fusion of Moroccan, Indian and Lebanese flavours (the pickles reminded me of El Jannah) and the chips were delightfully crunchy and chunky. My partner enjoyed his pumpkin risotto – "very pumpkin-y" was the verdict as he loves his pumpkin. I had a taste of it and it was creamy and buttery, and the addition of rocket leaves gave it a nice peppery touch.
We were too full for dessert so just opted for coffee and affogato to finish off our meal. We are not coffee connoisseurs but enjoyed them nonetheless.
We will definitely be coming back to try their other dishes, and I would love to eat some of those edible flowers!
Source: Blacktown Council website