There has been a lot going on at Howard’s Vineyard in recent times. They have a new look cellar door with renovations including the addition of the new back area and a refurbished tasting space. They also have a new vintage of wines to show off including a gruner, complimenting their already impressive catalogue of vino.
There are also new things going on in the kitchen, with the departure of Heather Day leading to a search that uncovered a new head chef – whom they found already residing in their kitchen – in the form of Korean born ‘cookie’. From this they now have a new summer menu, which (thanks to Girl About Town) was the reason we found ourselves at their cellar door on a chilly but beautiful late spring morning.
What isn’t new to Howard’s is the stunning setting they have at their disposal. It never hurts when your location is as picturesque as this cellar door, nestled cosily amongst the trees and vines on the edge of Nairne. The Adelaide Hills has many postcard worthy cellar doors, and Howards is easily amongst the very best.
Turning to the food, the new banquet menu is a continuation of the Asian theme that has been present for a while, with Cookie delving into his cultural heritage and adding a fresh twist to proceedings.
The tataki was delicate and subtle, with the freshness and quality of the produce being allowed to shine through without overt distractions. The dumplings were so moreish, I would have happily devoured a share plate or so of these all for myself, while the Thai beef salad was so perfectly dressed and balanced it was pure and utter joy to eat. Indeed the salad was the kind of thing I could have every day and never tire of eating (and yes I would happily give that a go – for research purposes only of course).
The tea smoked duck pulled things back a notch, with once more subtlety and complexity ruling the roost. The protein very much took centre stage in all its perfectly pink, soft and decadent glory, with its companion legumes and potatoes ably supporting things.
Dessert didn’t let down the overall experience. As the sun finally came through and warmed the afternoon, summery flavours of coconut, mango and passionfruit put the perfect exclamation mark on food proceedings.
For those with dietry requirements, there is a bespoke banquet menu on offer which looks just as satisfying.
Howard’s of course have the wines to very much back up the perfection on the plate, with their range available for tasting and pairing with each dish. I have a particular soft spot for the Amos Chardonnay, but there will be something there to be enjoyed by everyone. They also have Pirate Life beers available if a cleansing ale is required.
The take away message from this is pretty simple – you should all go and experience this. I can hand on heart say that this was absolutely bloody amazing in every way. Essentially flawless execution, a very clever menu and just wow from start to finish. Howard’s new menu and the overall experience is easily one of my culinary highlights of 2018, and I cannot wait to come back and experience it again.
Howard’s Vineyard is located at 53 Bald Hills Road, Nairne. The banquet menu is for Sunday only, but there is a simplified menu available from Wednesday through Saturday.