An attentive host greets you at the front desk, before ushering you into the ambient dining space. Tables are large and sparsely placed, ensuring that each guest has an intimate experience, despite being in one of the most popular and exclusive restaurants in South Australia.
As well as an a la carte menu, a five or eight course degustation are both tantalising options for guests, with seperate menus of each specifically designed for vegetarians. Our sommelier Siddharth Pachare informed us he would be taking us on a culinary journey across the a la carte menu, feeding us unique dishes accompanied by complementary wines until we were both full and warm with wine.
We started the meal light, with Coffin Bay oysters paired with the Henschke Johanna Ida Selma Sparkling. Right off the bat we were totally thrown by the incredible presentation of what is usually such a simple dish. Brought to the table shrouded in smoke, the oysters were perched atop a bed of rocks, and each shell was filled with finger lime and a delicate ball of lemon foam. Sliding one of these into your mouth was such a fun exploration of texture, with the chewiness of the oyster, the zesty pop of the finger lime and the creamy coolness of the foam.
Three entrees were served next: the chicken wings with preserved lemon and prawn, rosemary and fermented chill beurre blanc, the Coorong Wild Seafood mullet with burnt rice and San Jose lardo, salted egg, pickled onions and Port Lincoln sardine custard, the Raw Clean Seas kingfish with Hindmarsh Valley Dairy coconut yoghurt and fermented kefir coconut granita.
Siddharth let us know that the chicken was their version of ‘comfort food’, however these wings are a far cry from the greasy KFC we tend to indulge in after a big night out. Boneless so you don’t have to mess your hands trying to pick meat from the bones, subtly spicy to warm your insides, and bursting with finger lime zest, we’ll take this over the Colonial’s secret herbs and spices any day.
The Coorong mullet was all about highlighting the earthy flavours of this native fish, while the kingfish was about simplicity and freshness. Both dishes used minimal but complex ingredients to let the feature shine.
These three dishes were matched with the Henschke 16 Joseph Hill Gewurtztraminer, Henschke 16 Julius Riesling and Henschke 13 Julius Riesling.
It’s worth noting here that we took so long to eat the first two plates, distracted by our conversation and incredible wines, that the granita on the kingfish had melted by the time we got to it. So attentive is the service here that we were offered a replacement, as they assured us they wanted us to experience each dish exactly as it had been designed.
Our final entree was something neither of us had indulged in before, the Filipino street food Sisig. A saucy, delicious dish consisting of grilled pork, spring onion and soft egg, flavours of salt and sweet soy jumped out at us, as did the perfect amount of juicy fat on the pork, making it extremely satisfying to eat. This was paired with the Henschke 15 Giles Pinot Noir, a delicious drop with wild berry notes that complimented the fattiness of the pork.
Moving onto mains, we began with the snapper, served with spinach and mussel puree, pickled Kinkawooka mussels, succulents and labanos. Though this was a fish dish, it was quite dense and filling. The addition of pickled mussels as well as the puree was a real winner for us, as it added an element of saltiness that the snapper needed.
The Murraylands lamb neck and cardamom-rubbed beef fillet were our final two savoury dishes, and were justly the heaviest. The beef fillet was totally cooked to perfection, and pulled apart so gently, while the lamb neck was balanced out by a sweet blackberry gastrique and the addition of blueberries on top, something quite innovative and definitely delicious.
Each of the mains were served with a complimentary wine. The Henschke 15 Croft Chardonnay was served with the snapper and the Henschke 15 Henry’s Seven SGMV was paired with the lamb neck, however the beef fillet is the exception to the rule here. Accompanied by the Henschke 2012 Hill of Grace Shiraz, the beef dish was designed around the single-vineyard shiraz, a wine so special it has a restaurant named after it. Made from grapes from vineyards 157 years old, this was a truly special experience for us.
Dessert is something we were particularly excited about, as the two dishes we were to sample seemed to have been created from savoury elements rather than sweet. The Adel blue cheese ice-cream was heavenly, being effortlessly creamy and complimented by a sweet, sticky pedro ximenez reduction, chocolate and candied salted walnuts. A fun bowl of stout and sourdough ice-cream, frosted pecans, Henschke Prue’s Verjus jelly, guava custard and marshmallow finished us off.
Anything blue cheese pairs perfectly with wine, and Hill of Grace aren’t ones to leave you thirsty with dessert. The blue cheese ice-cream was met with the Henschke 13 Noble Rot Semillon, and the Henschke 15 Noble rot Gewurtztraminer rose to the occasion with the stout and sourdough ice-cream.
By the time we had finished our evening at Hill of Grace, we’d be there for nearly four hours and hadn’t noticed the time flying by. The staff were very perceptive to how we were going, giving us time in between courses to sit and chat, and patiently waiting for us to nibble away at the food. Hill of Grace isn’t just your first stop for dinner on a Saturday evening, it’s the only destination you need for a night out. We couldn’t recommend this fine dining establishment highly enough, and can’t wait to return in future.