We drove up to the Hunter Valley for a quick overnight stay with the family and booked ourselves into the one-hat Bistro Molines restaurant, which is located down a gravel road in the aptly named Mount View. The elevated position of the restaurant at the top of a hill over idyllic vineyards makes for a gorgeous setting at dusk – which was around the time we arrived for our dinner.
The style of the decor is decidedly French provincial, with the many rustic touches matching well with the refined French menu. Best of all, you can drink wines straight from the onsite vineyard Tallavera Grove – we went for the 2014 Tallavera Grove Shiraz ($45 per bottle) which was a great pick for the food we ended up going for. The bonus was that from our table, we could even see the grapes that the wine had been made from!
We started off with a generous Charcuterie platter which was shared between four adults (and a couple of cultured kids belonging to our cousins) which was more than enough to get our tastebuds going, featuring an intensely rich Duck Liver Pate, slivers of moreish Parma Ham and spicy Salami, silky smooth Mortadella, a creamy Chicken and Pistachio Terrine and a surprisingly flavoursome Rabbit Rillette that even the kids enjoyed. The Pickled Vegetables on the side helped cut through all the flavours and reset our senses for the other starters.
Charcuterie of Robert’s Duck Liver Pate, Rabbit Rillette, Mortadella, Chicken and Pistachio Terrine, Parma Ham, Salami and Pickled Vegetables, $40
The Housemade Linguini was a star in the flavour stakes, packing a lot into the roasted tomato and piquillo pepper sauce that coated the pasta and the succulent fresh prawns.
Housemade Linguini tossed with Fresh Prawns, Wild Bush Basil, Roasted Tomato and Piquillo Pepper Sauce, $28
We also enjoyed the Seared Quail which had been cooked to perfection, with the juicy flesh paired with a fresh peach and walnut salad and slices of crispy pancetta for a burst of savoury flavour. Bistro Molines stayed true to their word – the quail was partially deboned already so that all the annoying little bones were gone, with just the larger bones left to keep the shape which were easily disposed of.
Seared Partially Deboned Quail with a Fresh Peach and Walnut Salad and Crisp Pancetta, $28
For mains, the boy went for the Fillet Mignon which was cooked medium rare so it stayed succulent, wrapped in a sliver of pancetta, drizzled with a red wine jus and bearnaise sauce. There was a creamy black garlic croquette on the side for the carb factor and sauteed spinach to make sure we had some greens on the plate.
Fillet Mignon, Sauteed Spinach, Black Garlic Croquette, Red Wine Jus and Bearnaise, $44
I decided to try the Ragout of Braised Oxtail which was a special on the night – I found it quite heavy and savoury as it had been braised for a long time, even when mixed through with the housemade pappardelle pasta and the fresh garden peas.
Ragout of Braised Oxtail tossed with Housemade Pappardelle Pasta and Garden Peas, $41
Onto desserts, we went for a mix of the fruitier desserts – starting with the delicious Passionfruit Parfait which was creamy, but served chilled like an almost ice cream that has a richer passionfruit flavour infused. It was served with fresh orange, blackberries and crushed pistachios.
Passionfruit Parfait, $18
The Coupe of Macerated Mango and Lychee pieces also featured soft meringue pieces which were a fluffy counterpoint to the fresh pineapple sorbet. A great summer dessert and a hit with the kids too.
Coupe of Macerated Mango and Lychee, $18
Their Old Style Creme Brulee was a classic done well – the caramelised sugar on top cracked satisfyingly and revealed a beautiful custard that wasn’t too eggy underneath, paired with the tart flavours of the stewed rhubarb on the side and a medley of fresh summer berries. The crunchy housemade pistachio biscuits on the side were also a nice touch.
Old Style Creme Brulee, $18
It’s easy to see why Bistro Molines has been awarded a hat by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide for 2017, it definitely ticks a lot of boxes for regional dining in an area renowned for its quality gourmet restaurants, especially their stellar selection of entrees.