Dinner Options in the Hunter Valley
If you remember to bring one thing to the Hunter Valley, make sure it’s your appetite (and some stretchy pants). While your eyes feast on rolling vineyards, mountain ranges and historic towns, your taste buds jump like a kid at Christmas, sipping and sampling gastronomic specialties.
Bursting with restaurants serving local produce, it’s all too easy to find a scrumptious venue to suit your budget. Naturally, you can expect your fabulous fare to come with a large dose of the region’s best wine, whether it’s a glass to go with your gourmet pizza or a tipple paired with fine dining cuisine.
The main thing to do in the Hunter at night is to go out for dinner. Indulge in a 2 or 3 course (or even 5 course!) fine dining degustation experience, enjoy dinner at a mid tier restaurant (Twine Restaurant or Baume at Ben Ean are highly recommended) or casual and wholesome pub dinners are popular at Harrigan’s Irish pub or The Mighty Hunter Valley or 4 Pines at the Farm (Matilda Bay Brewhouse).
You can listen to a live band or go dancing at Harrigan’s Irish pub (the area’s most popular night spot with easy access to taxis and hire cars to get back to your Hunter accommodation).
Most cellar doors take their last groups for tastings at 3.30pm and are closed by 4.30pm however if you wish to do a late afternoon tasting, Tintilla Estate will take groups as late as 4pm for tastings.
Hunter Valley transport for dinner dates
If you don’t have your car or, understandably, you’d rather indulge in more than one or two drops of the region’s famous vino, choose to stay in one of the towns. Pokolbin, Rothbury and Lovedale offer accommodation within walking distance of top restaurants and vineyards.
Uber is slowly increasing it’s presence in the Hunter, however it can be unreliable and it just depends on how many operators are in the area on the particular night you try the Uber app. You can give it a go as one may be available, especially on popular festival nights or concert nights. In terms of taxis, Wine Country Taxis operates from Cessnock, which is about 20 minutes away from the main towns, and Harrigan’s Irish Pub in Pokolbin is a pickup spot. If you’re enjoying a craft beer at Potter’s Brewery, you’ll also enjoy a courtesy bus service.
When you’ve got a group of 10 or more people, Tastes of the Hunter Wine Tours offer evening transport as part of our private tours, as well as with the corporate tour package. So, you can include your top restaurant picks in your tour and travel there in comfort!
Now, let’s take a look at the smorgasbord of dining options in the Hunter Valley.
Tasty, budget-friendly bites
A tight budget doesn’t mean missing out on the Hunter Valley’s delectable delights. Here’s where to tame those hunger pangs without breaking the bank.
Harrigan’s Irish Pub, Pokolbin
It’s always a good time for a Beef and Guinness Pot Pie, right? Harrigan’s bistro keeps you cosy with a fireplace in winter and lets you soak up the sun while dining alfresco. Weekends are a great time to go for live music and there’s usually something special happening on event days, like Melbourne Cup. Pop into the sports bar for TAB facilities, sports on big screen TVs and a game or two of pool. If you want all this at your fingertips, you can stay onsite too.
The Mighty Hunter Valley – formerly Potter’s Brewery, Nulkaba
From Pork Bangers to oysters mornay and burrito bowls, the menu at The Mighty Hunter Valley (Potter’s) satisfies everyone’s taste buds. The brasserie packs a punch in terms of atmosphere too, with a beer garden, an indoor dining area, a lounge bar, a children’s playground and the Hunter Beer Co. serving up the brews. If you’re visiting the Hunter for a party, they’ll cater for your fun and you can walk (or stumble) back to the onsite resort.
Wollombi Tavern, Wollombi
Dr. Jurd’s Jungle Juice is what you need to refuel for your adventures. Folklore full of cheeky escapades follows local legend, Mel Jurd, who first made his presence known with the purchase of the Wollombi Wine Saloon in 1957. He was responsible for the famous jungle juice that headlines the Wollombi Tavern. Stop by for a $10 lunch or choose a dinner dish from the bar menu. Mid-range flavours
Along with tasty pub food and a thriving cafe scene, you’ll find plenty of options for mid-range dining budgets, throughout the region.
Oishii Japanese and Thai, Pokolbin
Follow your nose to teriyaki chicken and fragrant Thai curries at Oishii Japanese. Once you’ve had your fill of sushi and sashimi, sit back, relax and enjoy the unique amphitheatre design and views across the vines. As for the drinks list, sip on some sake, refresh with a beer or wash it all down with local reds, whites and sparklings.
Goldfish Bar and Kitchen, Pokolbin
Visit Roche Estate Winery, then glide into the sophistication of New York in the 1920s. Take your place at a leather booth or outside with vineyard views, before ordering a special cocktail whipped up just for you at Goldfish Bar. In fact, with creations like Clockwork Orange, Quebec Connection and Peach Perfect, you might forget to eat. That’d be a shame though, as the menu at Goldfish Bar and Kitchen offers delectable share plates that include Peking duck pancakes and Sydney rock oysters.
Lillinos Bar and Trattoria, Rothbury
Sometimes nothing but Italian will do and housemade potato dumplings in gorgonzola cream sauce can send you to heaven. So, if that’s you, dine at Lillino’s Bar and Trattoria which entices with the flavours of Italy, overlooking the vines of St Clements Estate. Not only will your feast include local produce, but the Prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella and parmesan come direct from Napoli for the perfect blend of Aussie freshness and Italian authenticity. Fine dining deliciousness
Is it time to splurge on gourmet cuisine, complete with backdrops that sing with elegance and natural beauty? You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to spoiling yourself in the Hunter Valley.
Muse Kitchen, Pokolbin
The courtyard of Keith Tulloch Wines hosts the European-style Muse Kitchen, a one-hat bistro with a fresh, white interior that invites long, lingering dinner dates. At the heart of the menu is seasonal produce sourced from local farmers, paired with complementary Hunter Valley wines. For a tiny teaser of what awaits, picture yourself taking that first bite of slipper lobster with taglierini arrabbiata and shellfish oil.
EXP Restaurant, Pokolbin
Tagged as their ‘EXP.ression’ of Australian cuisine, EXP restaurant has been included in the Delicious Top 100 Restaurants and ranked in the Gault & Millau Australian Top 100. When you perch up at the bar, you can spy on the kitchen staff and Chef Frank Fawkner working their magic. Then, you get to eat that magic! Think a tasting menu with white wine to go with your Jersey milk haloumi, coated by caper and brown butter sauce.
Esca Bimbadgen, Pokolbin
Views, views and more sweeping views greet you at Esca Bimbadgen. The foodie heaven rests above the vineyard and some of the produce, like lemons, figs and fresh herbs, are grown onsite. A firm fine dining favourite, Esca Bimbadgen was the NSW and National winner of the Restaurant in a Winery category at the 2019 Savour Australian Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence. When you pop in to sample the exquisite cuisine in the Tuscan-inspired courtyard, you’ll see why.
Restaurant Botanica, Pokolbin
Chef Shayne Mansfield heads up Restaurant Botanica, after working at a star-studded lineup of national and international restaurants. Your experience here is all about modern Australian dining centred on fresh Hunter Valley ingredients picked each morning. Spicers Vineyards Estate is the host and that means vineyard views across to the Brokenback mountain range to accompany your seasonal dishes. Start off with artisan breads, delve into Little Hill Farm chicken with kipflers, greens, grapes and Semillon mustard sauce, then finish with red wine balsamic strawberries.
Amanda’s on the Edge Restaurant, Pokolbin
No matter which table you book here, the view encapsulates the vines of Windsor’s Edge Vineyard. When it’s warm outside you can dine alfresco amid the gardens. During winter a fire keeps you cosy as you savour local ingredients turned into beautifully presented dishes. Speaking of which, get set for a mouthwatering feast that includes king prawns, gourmet salads and a great kids’ menu.
Circa 1876, Pokolbin
Farm to fork dining is a passion for Executive Chef Trent Barrett, as he tends to the onsite kitchen gardens, the chicken coop and resident bees. This atmospheric restaurant is housed in a historic cottage at Roscrea Estate. Two-course, three-course and five-course menus ensure you don’t leave hungry, with an award-winning wine list to enjoy in the Champagne Lounge. Leave room for desserts like Cherry & Chocolate, a mirror glazed dark chocolate cake with pistachio, cherry, truffle tuile and cream.
The Cellar Restaurant, Pokolbin
After a stroll around the Hunter Valley Gardens, it’s an easy walk to the wisteria-filled courtyard of The Cellar Restaurant for a dining treat. Inside the sandstone building, lovely gardens, candles and a fireplace set the scene for modern contemporary dishes, like ocean trout with green papaya, smoked mushroom, lemon and soy pearls. As if that’s not enough, the decadent desserts ensure you put that diet off for another day. Who can resist warm toffee pudding cake with Fuji apple, brown butter and sage ice cream, after all?
Bet you’re hungry now, right? Eating your way around the Hunter Valley is just one way to enjoy this incredible region.
Jump onboard one of our Hunter Valley Wine Tours and we’ll make sure you discover the highlights, including famous wineries, breweries and the local producers of all that scrumptious cuisine you packed your appetite for.