Restaurant review: Vintners Bar and Grill in Barossa Valley

Restaurant review: Vintners Bar and Grill in Barossa Valley

I had high hopes for Vintners Bar and Grill. But have high expectations and expect to fall hard….

Having just read that, I’m sure you are already bracing yourself for the fall. At least you were given forewarning, I wasn’t.

We arrived at Vintners Bar and Grill, and all looked incredibly cozy and pretty. The atmosphere was warm and we settled in quite quickly, eager to get into this lovely affair of eating.

I started with a half dozen order of Coffin Bay Oysters. $15 dollars for half a dozen. Mrh. But I ordered it in a winery region, I knew what I was getting myself in for… so we’ll let that slide. To be honest, these oysters were probably the highlight of the night. They weren’t amazing, but they weren’t bad either.

You know what really bothered me about this place? It was the fact that the menu has things like Asian style Calamari Salad, Aromatic Chicken Curry, Basmati rice, Papadams & Raita, Char Grilled Kangaroo, red curry, sour cucumber relish and steamed rice on it. What? Seriously? What is with this fascination with asian stuff? Wasn’t this a Bar & Grill? While I (grudgingly) admit that Modern Australian cuisine has a lot of influences from Asian cuisine, it is still not something I am going to be ordering from a very clearly non-asian restaurant. Maybe I’m bias. In fact, I know I am. Because I have no qualms against ordering pasta from a non-italian restaurant. But I’m just a little tired of this fascination with Asian food. I’ve never seen it end well.

We had huge issues finding things to order from the menu. I didn’t come all this way to eat some asian-wannabe food. In the end, we ordered Ravioli of local squab, grana padano, pea puree & sage butter as an Entree. Meh. Nothing to write home about. But it was probably the least offensive of all the dishes, oysters and potatoes aside. There was just no wow factor. The flavour was nothing special, there was nothing to love in this dish. *despair*

I adore Pork belly. So when we saw Sweet crisp pork belly, green mango, broccolini & fried pigs ear on the menu, we all decided it would be a good idea to have it. Good idea? More like bad idea. It was just…. not… pleasant. I know they said sweet, but it just tasted like it was coated in honey. And it wasn’t crisp. Argh.

Truffled leek risotto, confit duck leg, roasted apple & Pinot jus – it sounded so good. Good on paper, at any rate. This just tasted so, so odd that we struggled to have more than a very polite serve of it. We couldn’t finish the risotto between the three of us. Not from portion size – more from the reluctance to put ourselves through eating that again.

At least the Syd’s duck fat roasted cecile potatoes were edible….

We left without dessert. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

It wasn’t what I had expected. I had high hopes, and they were dashed one after another. At the prices we were paying, I was hoping for good food. I’m not saying every dish needs to be a dish that makes fireworks go off in my head and mouth. I’m saying, I don’t want to feel ill after eating the dishes. I want to be able to enjoy my food. I didn’t. Not tonight.

They say you have to go back to a restaurant at least twice before you blog about it, because they might have just had an off day. But let me ask you this: if you had a really horrid first impression – would you go back?

Me? I don’t think I’ll be back. The meals in the Barossa just have not impressed thus far and I think the next time I contemplate such a trip, it will be a day trip and a dinner back in Adelaide. At least then the disappointment wouldn’t be quite as great.

Winery Guide: Yalumba in Barossa Valley

Winery Guide: Yalumba in Barossa Valley

There was no way we were visiting the Barossa Valley without paying Yalumba a visit. Even before I started being really big on wines and wineries, I knew about Yalumba.

And if you frequent cinemas, you would too. Because really, who hasn’t seen this ad?

And I have to admit – I’m a huge sucker for ads. I’ve seen this ad so many times that it was ranked quite high on my to-go list. So it came as no surprised that when we were planning which wineries to hit, I put down Yalumba on the list – no questions asked.

Unfortunately….. I didn’t fancy the wines there as much as I did at other places. I did end up picking a bottle up (don’t ask me what, I’ve forgotten) but I couldn’t possibly tell you anything about the wines I tasted. So this blog post is going to be more of a photo blog. Enjoy.

At least, I can say: yup, I’ve been here.

Winery Guide: Moorooroo Park Vineyard in the Barossa Valley

Winery Guide: Moorooroo Park Vineyard in the Barossa Valley

If it were not for recommendations and a paper map, there was no way we would have found Moorooroo Park Vineyards. A tiny little boutique vineyard hidden away in an unseen corner of the Barossa, Moorooroo Park Vineyard would have to be one of the most treasured gem of my Barossa trip.

And that brings me to one of my gripes about Barossa Valley. There is a distinct lack of signage. As the valley grows more and more in its food and wine fame locally and internationally, more and more tourists will flock to the Barossa, and a lot of them will opt to do self-driven wine tours like we did. And the lack of signs is just frustrating. I don’t care for the uncovered roads, I find that to be somewhat part of its charms, but signs? There were none pointing to Rochford, none pointing to Moorooroo Park Vineyards. Both brilliant vineyards that might have been easily passed by.

Anyways, let’s look back at Moorooroo Park Vineyards. First established in 1847 by the Nitschke Family, it is housed within the Jacob’s Creek Retreat which is surrounded by Shiraz Vineyards belonging to Moorooroo Park. What I adored about this vineyard was the fact that its cellar door was established in what was formerly the family home. Or at least, the upstairs was. The downstairs used to be where the stable would stand.

The place isn’t huge, in fact arguably one of the smallest if not the smallest cellar door I’ve visited so far in my wine touring life. But by golly, the charm is undeniable. The little cottage / stable itself is impossibly quaint, but the decor is incredibly elegant, luxurious and the gentleman serving us was just the cherry on the top of the cake with his old school charms. I was in love.

The wines were incredible too. They tasted like luxury and I was wanting more after every sip. What really delighted me was the fact that when we decided on our purchases, our wines came straight from the cellar, complete with dust covered bottles.

And after our wine tasting session, we went wandering around the Jacob’s Creek Retreat, sighed at the pretty cottages and took many pretty photos in the really beautiful park. We all made the decision that the next time we came back to the Barossa, we would save up in order to stay at least one night at the retreat – it was just so incredibly beautiful and serene!

Enchanting. Absolutely enchanting. This is what dreams are made of.

And now, everytime I drink a bottle of their wines now, I think fondly of my short afternoon spent at Moorooroo Park Vineyards. I’ll be back. That’s for sure.

Winery Guide: Jenke Vineyards in the Barossa Valley

Winery Guide: Jenke Vineyards in the Barossa Valley

Jenke Vineyards

Jenke Road
Rolland Flat
Barossa Valley
South Australia
Phone (08) 8524 4154
Web: Jenke Online

One of our first winery stops was Jenke Vineyard. We entered the estate only to be greeted by rows and rows of incredibly beautiful vines and it was quite a breathtaking sight. Even though Jenke Vineyard is right by the main road, it just seems like a completely different world once you’ve stepped into the estate. It feels peaceful, the birds are chirping and the sight of a happy and joyous dog bounding up to you as you get out of the car is just delightful.

Jenke Vineyards was originally started by Johann Jenke who first arrived in Port Adelaide in 1854 from Germany. He left Germany as part of the wave of Germans fleeing the religious persecution in Silesia (East Germany) at the time. Having settled down in the Barossa Valley after his arrival, Johann Jenke planted his first vineyards and since then the family has been tending the same vineyards since for six generations. That’s family history right there for you! What I adored most from our visit there was this little memory: we stood there in the rustic little cottage, the fire was crackling, wine glass in our hands as we listened attentively to the lady who told us the history of the place. It was absolutely enchanting and it just felt as though time had stood still for that few minutes as she told us of the delightful history behind Jenke Vineyards.

Being a family owned winery, Jenke vineyard doesn’t churn out massive amounts of wine a year. A small range of Barossa varietals are released each year and we had the chance to try this year’s offering all that morning. My favourite? The Noble Semillon. Hands down, this was one of the more memorable wines of the whole trip. So memorable, I actually went by again to pick up another bottle. It was that good!

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend dropping by Jenke Vineyards. Not a hugely famous vineyard, but worth every single drop. I’ll most definitely be back!

Travel Guide: Interesting Sightings in Barossa Valley

Travel Guide: Interesting Sightings in Barossa Valley

Driving around the Barossa Valley, one cannot help but notice that there are some rather interesting things along the side of the road. So on our last day in the valley, I took the time to stop by and take photos of a few things that had caught my eye.

The first of it being this little guy here. It’s an electrical pole with some bark wrapped around it with writing on it. A tinman pointing down a side lane and no other signs to even explain what he was. It intrigued me from the very first moment I saw him!

Here’s a closer look at the tin man.

“How funny” I said to my travelling companions, “if there was a scarecrow around too.” I was referring of course to the travelling party from Wizard of Oz. But then I looked up and lo, and behold, in the distance, I saw something that resembled a scarecrow. I didn’t need to think – I got back in the car quick smart and went zooming towards the scarecrow.

As it turns out, he wasn’t a scarecrow but he was made to look like one. But what do we have here? Story Book Cottage and the Whacky Woods. The mystery deepens!

I couldn’t really get a good shot of the cottage but you can get a very tiny glimpse of it behind the scarecrow. It looked like something from out of a storybook, and the whole place was quite run down and looked deserted. Like a fairy tale gone wrong.

It didn’t take us long to rustle up some thing on the internet and in some ways, it was very much like a fairy tale gone wrong. Originally a tourist attraction built around the depiction of well known children’s story book characters and events, the place was now close and has been closed for at least 3 years. It apparently housed over 60 different characters from children stories and nursery rhymes and even had a walk-in burrow. It did sound magical but since its closure, nature has really taken over and the place had a distinct haunted house feel about it.

What a pity, as I’d have love to visit!

Last interesting sight to share is this rather lovely couple who shows you the way to Grant Burge. Quite effective too since they were really quite high up and you could see them from a fair distance away. I wonder how long they had been standing up there and how many people they must have seen go past!

The Barossa Valley is indeed a magical place. While I have to admit that the food I have found so far have left me quite disappointed, I wouldn’t mind going back there again to try other things. If nothing else, the wines are definitely yummy!