Experience the culinary delights of the McLaren Vale wine region like a local. Here’s some of our top dishes to try, showcasing the best in regional produce.
d’Arry’s Verandah – McLaren Vale
Lobster ravioli is always popular – they never take it off the menu. But if you’re a sweet tooth, you can’t go past the passionfruit souffle – sweet, tangy, pillowy bliss in a seemingly endless glass dish. You can’t go wrong here.
The Currant Shed – McLaren Flat
The modern Australian cuisine is ever-changing, with dishes almost too beautiful to eat. The tranquil restaurant serves delicate delights including braised kangaroo loin with wattleseed and coffee seasoning. The chefs are passionate about local and seasonal fare, complete with their own kitchen veggie patch.
The Confessional – McLaren Vale
This cosy cellar door is known for their lavish platters. “We’ve got a salami board which features Les Deux Coqs saucissons [french-style salami] and our cheese boards feature a lot of regional cheeses,” co-owner Adam Hooper says. There’s also truffle cheese fries.
Gather at Coriole – McLaren Vale
New restaurant Gather specialises in all things local, sourced from the area or their estate gardens. While the menu continues to change with the seasons, a favourite is their ricotta gnocchi with porcini custard, mushroom, parmesan and mallow cream.
Bocca di Lupo (Mitolo) – McLaren Vale
Recently opening their tasting room and restaurant, Mitolo have become known for their modern Australian cuisine with Italian and Asian influences. A favourite to date is the baby beets with liquorice and chocolate, which the crew say will stay on the menu. Much like the space, the flavours are surprising and complement a good drop of Mitolo vino very nicely.
Oscars – McLaren Vale
Pizza and pasta are the go-to dishes at Oscars, which has been a staple for the last 20 years. A must-try is the house-made gnocchi with butter sage sauce, always on the menu (and for good reason). “We make the gnocchi fresh and our pizza bases are homemade” says manager Paul Burford.
Russell’s Pizza – Willunga
Russell’s offers some of the best wood oven pizzas around. The oven was built over two decades ago and while the pizzas are a must, it’s the meatballs you have to try. Fired in the wood oven, they’re filled with feta and herbs, and are melt-in-your-mouth good.
Star of Greece – Port Willunga
The salt and pepper squid is a favourite, either as an entree or a main. The freshly caught squid is lightly dusted with flour, salt and pepper and fried fresh to order. Crispy, salty, moorish morsels. Hot tip – order more than you think you’ll need, because you won’t want to stop eating this dish.
The General, Mr Riggs – McLaren Flat
The menu at The General changes almost daily, with dishes crafted from seasonal, regional ingredients. The menu consists of one entree, ‘in between’, main and dessert, all chosen by the chef on the day – you simply need to decide how many courses you desire. Examples of their top dishes include a beautifully aged rump steak served with wakame, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli and wasabi leaf.
The Kitchen Door, Penny’s Hill – McLaren Vale
The menu is based around what’s available from regional growers and farmers. There are some dishes, however, that stay on the menu a little longer than the season’s change. “Fast becoming one of our signature dishes, is our Tempura Eggplant with Sichuan sweet ‘n’ sour and spring onions – this excites the palate,” says restaurant manager and co-owner Kate Boden.
Maxwell Wines – McLaren Vale
Their menu is inspired by seasonal produce, some of which is sourced from their kitchen garden. Make sure to try dishes like their mandarin (using local citrus), matcha and coconut dessert, seamlessly combining delicate and punchy flavours into an impeccable dessert. While the menu changes often, the team will guide you with what’s in season and locally sourced.
The Salopian Inn – McLaren Vale
There’s just something about dumplings that can’t be resisted. They’re famous in these parts, as locals stop off for a snack of dumplings at the bar with a wine. Try the South Australian prawn and ginger-filled beauties handmade by this talented team of chefs. There’s pork buns too.
The Victory Hotel – Sellicks Beach
The menu is inspired by the seasons, the sea and local producers. One of the most popular dishes is the King George Whiting, freshly caught in local waters and delivered to the Victory’s doorstep by the fishermen. For red meat lovers, there’s nothing like a juicy Victory steak, sourced locally from Ellis Butchers (Mclaren Vale).
With so many wines to choose from, it can be hard to narrow it down. Here’s a few top drops – varieties and labels – to keep your eye out for when tasting your way around the region.
Shiraz – Shingleback Red Knot Classified Shiraz
Many visitors to the region are eager to sample iconic McLaren Vale Shiraz, and this local drop is a classic example, with rich berry tones and notes of rose petals and chocolate.
Roussanne – Yangarra Roussanne
A lesser-known white varietal, this smooth Roussanne is a popular pick in local restaurants, pairing beautifully with a meal.
Grenache – Rudderless Grenache 2015
Another varietal common in the region, this Sellicks Hill grenache has been awarded 97 points by James Halliday and is a stunning example of this vibrant, rich wine style.
Piquepoul – Coriole Piquepoul
While it’s an uncommon variety in the region, wine lovers flock to the beautiful white by Coriole. Crisp, fresh and aromatic, the french style gets snapped up quickly in the cellar door, but you can find it in some restaurants in the region too.
Pinot Grigio – S.C. Pannell
This crisp, balanced white is a popular Italian varietal. With a bottle from this multi-award-winning winery, you’ll be sampling some of the best. Be quick, it sells out fast.