After visiting Muse Restaurant for a wedding reception, a few friends and I booked in for lunch at its sister restaurant Muse Kitchen at the Hunter Valley. With one chefs hat awarded three years in a row, I could not wait to try it out. Muse Kitchen is located at the Keith Tulloch Winery in the Hunter Valley, NSW. The grounds were beautiful on that gorgeous sunny day. Picture perfect with the white building against a backdrop of blue sky, green grass, trimmed hedges and white flowers.
The winery’s cellar door is at one end of the property with tastings held upstairs. A fee of $5 per person applies and it takes 40 minutes to go through the tasting. As we didn’t have much time to spare, we skipped this.
The restaurant is located opposite the cellar door in its own separate building.
Our group of seven were greeted outside and shown to our table. Everything about the grounds and restaurant is so photogenic that I couldn’t resist taking all these shots. The decor has been thought out well all the way down to the smaller details. There are plenty of freshly cut flowers in vases, comfy cushions and other feminine touches. It was tempting not to lie down on the outdoor day bed and have a snooze.
The theme of crisp white decor is carried over inside the restaurant with an effortless farmhouse chic look. White distressed wooden tables and chairs, large windows and glass doors letting in plenty of sunlight. The walls inside are painted a light grey which really makes all the whiteness pop. We were lucky to be seated indoors on that 36 degree day.
I wanted everything from the menu so it was quite difficult to decide on my dishes. Since it’s not often I get to go to the Hunter region, I decided to take advantage of my time there and ordered an appetizer, entree, main AND dessert. Piglet I know. The appetizer of fried cauliflower ($12) with yoghurt, spices, mint and lemon was slightly crispy outside but not oily and fatty as you’d expect from something that’s been fried. Sitting on a whole heap of yoghurt that provided some acidity to the dish, I loved the light spices used on top (though I couldn’t name them). I thought there was a little too much yoghurt so most of that stayed on the plate.
My friend’s appetizer was the potted duck liver pate ($18) with berry and red wine jelly (on top), cornichons and toasted bread. He loved this and I did get food envy! The pate is made in house and the waitress mentioned that they try to make everything in house or source it locally.
My entree was the spanner crab and potato gnocchi ($22) with asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, shellfish butter and tarragon. I could tell the gnocchi was freshly made and it kept its shape well. There were larger chunks of crab than expected so I was happy with that. The shellfish butter sauce had a mix of other herbs and spices in it. It was so good that I wanted to drink it but managed to stop myself.
Another friend ordered the pan fried North Queensland prawns ($22) with broadbeans, chervil, wild fennel and buerre blanc. The prawns were served in its shell and they were massive. It smelled so good!
My partner had the braised white rabbit orecchiette pasta ($23) with peas, braised shallots, pecorino and verjuice. The pasta was cooked al dente and I thought it was a nice light dish. I’m not a big fan of rabbit though.
For my main I had the crispy skin confit duck leg ($36) with salt baked beetroot puree, blood orange, hazelnut and watercress salad. I didn’t taste or see any blood orange so this must have been substituted with pomegranate which worked well and provided a nice crunchy component. The duck wasn’t as tender as I expected but I loved mixing it with the generous amount of beetroot puree. My second choice for a main was the lamb shoulder for two but it was a little too warm for that that day.
My partner had the pan fried market fish ($36) with buttered cos lettuce, white anchovy, capers and parsley. I’ve forgotten what the fish of the day was but it was a red fish. When the dish first came out, I thought it was rather minimal compared to the other dishes. I got a taste of the fish and WOW it was amazing. Such a juicy silky white flesh with lovely natural flavour while the top of the fish was wonderfully crispy, its flavour even more enhanced. Probably the best piece of cooked fish I’ve ever tasted.
For dessert, I had the chocolate parfait ($14) with raspberry, caramelised white chocolate, coffee and lemon balm. I enjoyed the parfait which was thick and creamy. The white chocolate shavings on top were too subtle for me but it is a nice contrast and softens the look.
I really loved trying out Muse Kitchen. It was such a gorgeous day to be out in a beautiful setting. Staff are relaxed, nice and don’t mind if you order a few appetizers and entrees to eat rather than your typical entree, main and dessert. There was an appropriate length of time between each meal with a fresh set of cutlery provided each time.
I’ll definitely be revisiting Muse Kitchen in the future.
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