The Farmhouse Restaurant at Pialligo Estate was recently renovated, (they knocked down a whole wall), to make the space inside a bit more spacious. It reopened for business and we booked in for a winter’s lunch with family. The new winter menu had just been introduced and I was really looking forward to it. To start off, we ordered some buttermilk rolls ($10) which were baked in a cast iron skillet. How cute do they look? They were so soft and incredibly fluffy inside. Perfect if you don’t want to fill up on bread, though I did take two pieces.
Charcuterie boards can be ordered where you can pick from a range of Pialligo Estate’s cured and smoked meats, pate, and pickles with three ($22), six ($32) or nine ($59) options per board. I’m not sure how they came up with the pricing structure, but it did not make any sense nor was it good value to order the nine options. Instead, we opted for two boards of six. The first board consisted of pork cognac and prune terrine, smoked ham, smoked duck breast, cold smoked salmon, marinated olives served warm and wood grilled chorizo sausage. I did not like that cognac terrine as the alcohol was too heavy for me.
The second charcuterie board consisted of duck liver pate, bresaola, more smoked duck breast, wood grilled pork and fennel sausage, salmon gravlax and spicy pork tasso. I would order more serves of the duck breast and duck liver pate any day! One suggestion we made was to provide crackers with the pate, and the restaurant obliged and brought out a small bowl of crackers for us.
For my main, I chose the beef cheeks with polenta and roasted mushrooms ($28). The beef cheeks just fell apart with the touch of my fork. Both the beef and the sticky jus were rich in flavour and I wished I had some more bread to mop it up. I found the beef cheeks a tad fatty but placed the fatty components to the side. There was plenty of buttery polenta and I loved the slightly charred mushrooms.
My father-in-law ordered the Pacific Reef cobia ($38) which came with a wedge of lemon. He said it tasted very fresh and had been cooked perfectly.
We were glad we ordered some sides to go with our mains – the estate salad, roast potatoes, roasted vegetables, and green beans with hazelnuts and brown butter (all $10 each).
J and his brother both ordered the Cape Byron beef fillet ($44) which came out looking a little lonely on a large plate. Of the steak accompaniments, J chose the mustard board where he go to try three different mustards. His steak had been cooked a tad more medium than medium rare as requested. His brother ordered the cafe de paris butter and was very happy with his selection.
J’s sister ordered the whole baked snapper ($35) which had been slightly charred and came served with some lemon. The snapper was divine – fresh, smooth and succulent. There were no complaints. I should mention that the two kids ordered chicken nuggets and chips off of the kids menu. We were impressed to see that the nuggets were house made chunks of chicken breast that had been crumbed, not any of that processed stuff.
I was pretty stuffed but everyone wanted to try some dessert. The kids got 3 scoops (yes three scoops!) of house made vanilla bean ice cream each which we shared around the table. It made the adults wish we could order from the kids menu. Instead, we tried one of each dessert with the exception of the cheese plate. First up was the chocolate cake ($15) with chantilly cream and berries. It was served warm, as if straight from the oven, and reminded me of chocolate fondant. There was a high concentration of cocoa making it very chocolatey but as it was so light it didn’t taste too rich. This was shared amongst the table but I could have easily finished it myself.
The lemon and buttermilk tart ($15) had a lovely cornmeal pastry shell. The lemon filling was tart but not too sour, and the brown butter ice cream was a bonus.
The apple and pistachio pie ($15) was jam packed with apple, sultanas and pistachios. The pastry was very thin and flakey. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the comforting type of warm apple pie that I was after. The pistachio ice cream however was just delicious with a strong pistachio flavour.
This wonderful lunch turned into a 4.5 hour wonderful lunch. If you have lots of time and nothing else to do, it’s a great place to hang out. There were two fire places in the Farmhouse with cosy bat winged chairs. All that was missing were some books and newspapers. What impressed us was that as soon as we sat down, our waiter immediately brought out two packs filled with colouring in activities and other games for the two kids. We were even more surprised that the packs entertained both for the full 4.5 hours! A credit to the service that can be expected. Our water was topped up regularly without having to ask. Staff were knowledgable about the food on the new menu, and could make recommendations according to our tastes. Although it was a long lunch, it didn’t feel like it. We loved the laid back atmosphere, wonderful food, excellent service and great company.
Pialligo Estate Farmhouse is open for lunch Thursday to Friday, and dinner Wednesday to Saturday. Bookings recommended.
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 26/30
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