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Published July 24th 2014
Perfect fine-dining experience right here at Hunter Valley
It is a given that a short escape to the Hunter Valley will involve beautiful wines and gourmet dining. Esca Bimbadgen is one of the finest restaurants in Hunter Valley, which showcases the excellent wines and food that the region is famous for producing.
On the outset, the restaurant could be mistaken for just another plain average-looking restaurant. However, what greeted us after a winding uphill road was a stunning solid heritage estate manor, complete with its own tower.
We were shown to a table by the window where we got a delightful panorama outlook across vast grounds, rolling hills, and rows of grape vineyards. I could not ask for better views of Hunter Valley than this.
The menu refers to the tasting plates with matching wines as their 'signature dishes'. This has got to be one of the best kept secrets in Hunter Valley; 3 mini-courses paired with the winery's reserve wines for only $39!
Tonight, we selected the White Tasting Plate, which consisted of these 3 dishes: Tuna Tartare, Roasted Persimmon, and the Rabbit Terrine.
The tasting plate was designed to showcase the exquisite and delicately-balanced of Australian ingredients fused with exotic international flavours. Since Esca Bimbadge has its own wine estate, obviously they matched the dishes on the tasting plate with their signature wine collections.
The Tuna Tartare was served with black bean, togarashi mayonnaise, seaweed and enoki. This was definitely a Japanese-influenced dish. The match wine for this dish was Bimbadgen's MCA Series 2013 Vermentino.
The next dish on the Tasting Plate was the Roasted Persimmon. It was served with smoked miso sponge, cashew and goat's milk. An interesting and an innovative dish. The sweetness of the roasted persimmon balanced quite nicely with the salty miso and goat's milk. The matching wine for this dish was Bimbadgen's Regions 2013 Pinot Gris.
The third dish was the Rabbit Terrine. The rabbit ham was buttery soft and it was served with quince, sorrel and tonka bean. The matching wine was the Bimbadgen's Signature 2012 Hunter Valley Chardonnay and it was lovely together.
Each bite of the tasting plate was like tasting art. They were delicate and the flavours married beautifully together. The staff explained the best way to maximise the tasting flavour.
These tasting plates were excellent value as you can sample Esca's finest in small portions.
We selected the Seared Duck Breast with roasted macadamia, turnip, citrus and jasmine tea for our main. When this was brought out, I exclaimed at the artfully decorated dish. The duck was perfectly cooked, it was soft and tender. Together with the savoury braised french onions, creamy potato cubes, sweet orange wedges and the rich jus, it was just a spectacular dish. I savoured every mouthful of this dish. It was just so divinely delicious.
We also ordered the Moroccan Lamb Rump with parsnip, roasted fig, Bimbadgen's Shiraz reduction and black sesame ($39), which was highly recommended by the waitstaff.
If I thought the seared duck dish was spectacular, then I am speechless over this dish. The lamb tasted velvety and together with the complementary parsnips and roasted fig, it was an amazing, memorable dish. I was completely wowed by it. As you can see, the presentation was also a work of art.
How can we fit anything in after these stunning dishes? Wait, we ordered more..
For dessert, we just could not resist Esca's Dessert Tasting Plate ($26) which consisted of:
Greek yoghurt cremeux - honey roasted fig, almond and fig leaf ice cream, Brie and Bimbadgen Shiraz meringue.
White Chocolate and Macadamia set Cheesecake served with lemon myrtle curd gelato, macadamia brittle and lemon crumble, white chocolate air;
Red velvet chocolate mousse cake with Grand Marnier gelato, chocolate liqueurs, chocolate comb, orange and beetroot, cocoa; and
The desserts were compliment with a glass of Bimbadgen Regions 2010 Botrytis Semillon.
Perhaps everything we had tonight was so striking, but for me, this dessert tasting plate was not as mesmerising as the Entrees and the Mains. But they are of course spectacular and ended our night on a heavenly sweet note.
On par with the excellence of the food, was the service. Our waitress was knowledgeable and delightfully helpful. She was attentive and we were treated with respect. Overall the experience was superb and it probably was one of the best-tasting experiences we had in Hunter Valley.
So, if you are on a wine trip/weekend getaway to the Hunter Valley, swing by and visit Esca Bimbadgen. The quality is exceptional and the service is impeccable. Every dish was rich in flavour, elegantly presented and a taste sensation. You won't be disappointed!
Esca Bimbadgen is also available for weddings and functions.