Monday, 30 June 2014

Winery Hopping - The Elbow Room

When we headed down to McLaren Vale for a Girls Day Out, I was pretty insistent we visit The Elbow Room for Lunch. The Head Chef and owner down there is Nigel Rich - formally of d'Arry's Verandah and other fantastic establishments around SA and overseas. Nigel's food philosophy is a good one and something that all South Australians should aspire to - fresh, local products, shown off to their natural perfection. I first came across Nigel's cooking when I met him at a last year's Cheesefest and then dined at the Elbow Room for Dad's birthday back in January.

As it turns out, our Girls Day Out couldn't have come at a better time, since a few weeks before we went, the team down at the Elbow Room had made the change from their Summer to their Autumn menu and it got me pretty excited to head back :) 

To start off with, the girls got a loaf of ER bread with Diana Kalamata olives and Olive oil. They raved about it and it looked pretty damn good, but I was content with having no bread and saving myself for Mains/Dessert. 

Restaurant Manager Ben, however, had a different idea and bought out these little tasters to "excite our palates" and they did exactly that! These are Snapper Sashimi with Goats Curd and Squid Ink Crackers. Traditionally, I am not a fish and seafood fan and the thought of Sashimi usually scares me (just thinking of what could go wrong makes me shudder)! But I figured if the girls we game, then why not step out of my comfort zone…and I found myself pleasantly surprised when I liked it! 

For my main, it was a no brainer. I went for the Wood Smoked Lamb Brik with KI Dirt(y) Lentils, Labne and Smoked Eggplant. We very rarely have Lamb at home because I just don't really enjoy cooking it so it's a definite indulgence when we go out. Plus, I was pretty keen to try the Lentils from Simon Bryant's company, Dirt(y), which did not disappoint! 

Kyla, however, decided to go with the Grass-Fed Black Angus Fillet with Truffled Butter and Smoked Proscuitto. She absolutely raved over it and said that it was cooked exactly how she had asked for it - Medium-Rare. And it showed how much she enjoyed it when she threatened to lick the plate clean ;)

And then dessert….I chose the Bitter Chocolate Parfait Sandwich with Candied Orange, Salted Caramel and Chocolate Persian Fairy Floss. This dish doesn't usually have the Fairy Floss on it, but because I couldn't have the chocolate biscuits to "sandwich" the Parfait, they put the floss on :) This was so rich and decadent and I was the perfect serving size - any bigger and it would've been too sickly. And I also came pretty closet to licking the plate so I didn't leave any of the Caramel behind ;)

The girls, however, had this for dessert. This is the Knickerboker Glory. The Knickerboker Glory is another indulgent dessert and has many different components to it. It has creaminess from the Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramelised Yoghurt, crunchiness from the Honeycomb, a nice tart flavour from the Rhubarb, a wonderful refreshment from the Mandarin Sorbet, the always needed hit of Chocolate from the brownie and, like all good food items, topped off with some Chocolate Persian Fairy Floss. The girls just devoured these and could not stop raving about them - for the two of them, it was the highlight of the meal.

For me, the highlight of the meal was the wine. Whilst there, we found out that not only is Nigel a top chef, he also enjoys trying his hand at winemaking. Partnering up with the guys over at Sellicks Hill Winery in 2010, Nigel produced a Grenache Shiraz, which is now being poured by the glass at the restaurant. This is a gorgeous, light red that made me consider begging them to let me buy a couple of bottles in addition to what we had with lunch and went quite well with everything we ate. 

In short, if you're ever heading to McLaren Vale at a meal time, make this place your number one stop. From the food, to the staff, to the view, everything is just superb and well worth the money and the time to drive down there. 

The Elbow Room
Cnr of Stumphill Rd and Main Rd,
McLaren Vale SA 5171

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