The Clare Valley is one of South Australia’s best known wine regions; having travelled to, and tasted wine from, almost all other regions I felt it was time to add Clare Valley to my repertoire. After returning from India in early January I was keen to book another culinary adventure, so when my friends Craig and Tara mentioned riding the Riesling Trail on push bike, it was a no-brainer to immediately lock it into our calendars for a weekend of food and wine.
With details of my upcoming Clare Valley trip being posted on Facebook, I was soon bombarded with messages from friends advising me that Skillogalee Winery Restaurant was a “must” for lunch. So we decided to book it in for 1:30pm, giving us ample time to ride some of the Riesling Trail before we stopped to eat.
Upon arrival at the 60 hectare Skillogalee estate, we were greeted pleasantly by the cellar door staff and shown to our table which was set on the large verandah overlooking the layered garden and vineyards. Noting that we had been riding and were quite exhausted from the hilly journey on a hot 37 degree afternoon, we were promptly brought some ice water shortly followed by the menus.
Before even turning to the meal options I immediately noticed, and was impressed to discover, that they source as much of their produce either from on site or locally, whilst maintaining high quality standards. Unfortunately it is becoming increasingly common to find offshore ingredients on our plates these days; disappointing when there is no doubt that the best and freshest ingredients are available in our own backyards right here in South Australia.
The menu is seasonal and each item is matched with a current vintage Skillogalee wine. Knowing that there were still some post lunch wine tastings on our 6 kilometre cycle leg home, we didn’t want to eat anything too heavy.
For entree we ordered the following:
Tara: Duck & pistachio terrine with baby cornichons and brioche.
Craig: Harris smoked salmon with mango, avocado and lemon mayonnaise.
Myself: Pork belly with cauliflower puree, watermelon and Woodside goats curd.
For mains we ordered the following:
Craig & Tara: A serving each of Harissa SA prawns served with preserved grapefruit & pickled fig cous cous, zucchini, natural yoghurt and crushed pistachio nuts.
Myself: Atlantic salmon with tomato, cucumber & eggplant salsa, smashed baby potatoes and sautéed spinach.
Sides: Broccolini with caper butter.
Orange & pomegranate salad with rocket.
After ordering we were asked if we would like to either order some wine or venture through to the cellar door and partake in a wine tasting. With the cellar door a mere 15 metres away, we felt that not only would we pass some time, but also take on a ‘try before you buy‘ opportunity most other restaurants in the city don’t offer. Having all chosen white meat or seafood options for our 2 course meal, we worked our way through the list of white wines and chose the 2012 Gewürztraminer.
As we took our place back at the table our wine was deliver and poured and our entree’s served. All were presented well and sent a shimmer of life back into our jelly legs. Tara’s duck & pistachio terrine oozed with the presence of its two key ingredients which were well accompanied by the bitter sweet pickle flavoured cornichons.
Craig’s salmon although not smoked on the premises is provided by a local supplier from Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, well known for their great assortment of smoked seafood. The light fresh flavour of the avocado, mango and lemon suited the salmon perfectly on a hot day.
The Pork Belly was lightly salted to create the crunchy crackling which hovered over the gelatinous layer and soft succulent meat. The puree was delicate and creamy, not overpowering the flavour of the pork, while the watermelon provided a cooling sweetness to cleanse and invigorate my palate.
An appropriate 15 to 20 minute wait between entree and main gave us time to relax, enjoy the surrounding gardens and sip on some spectacular wine. As the lunch bell rang in my head, the meals aptly arrived bringing with it some amazing aromas. Both Tara and Craig’s prawns were plump and moist with an intense chilli burst from the harissa. The cous cous and natural yoghurt were a welcomed accompaniment assisting with spicy relief.
My salmon sat proudly on the spinach, yet unfortunately was a little overcooked, lacking the medium translucence I would expect to find in such a flavoursome piece of seafood. The fish also seemed to be poached or steamed which surprised me when I found the jelly textured skin still attached. By no means did it stop me from devouring the entire meal (minus the skin), although I would have preferred it to have been grilled or pan-fried to ensure a crispy skin at minimum.
As our plates were removed, we were asked if we would like dessert, just as we noticed a neighbouring table’s mountainous Pavlova arriving almost on queue. Although 3 serves may have tipped us over the edge, a shared dish of their trio of homemade ice-creams seemed like a perfect cooling closure to our meal. The colourful mounds of raspberry sorbet, blueberry and choc cherry ice-cream offered the perfect sweet creamy tartness to satisfy our needs.
If you are travelling to the Clare Valley I highly recommend Skillogalee not only for their wonderful wine but also for a magnificent meal set in a tranquil garden with sensational service. Bookings are a must, as it is clear that word of mouth has driven people from far and wide to put their tastebuds to the test, at this homely establishment. What better way to taste the country than to eat in it.
Average Menu Pricing
Appetisers $5.50 - $20.00
Entree $10.50 - $19.00
Main $22.00 - $34.00
Side Dishes $8.50 - $10.50
Dessert $12.00 - $17.00
Where: Skillogalee Winery, Trevarrick Rd, Spring Gully SA 5453
Trading: Lunch Monday to Sunday (bookings advisable)
Contact: (08) 8843 4311