Muse Restaurant captures the Hunter Valley on its plates

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Your dish is likely from the Muse Restaurant’s vegetable patch or the farms just down the road in Hunter Valley wine territory.

The Muse Restaurant is the epitome of dining in NSW wine region the Hunter Valley. Its dishes are bursting with fresh, local produce, and made with love and attention to detail.

Head chef and owner Troy Rhoades-Brown tells Two Chat Food he hopes his guests experience the finest of the Hunter Valley at the two chefs hat establishment.

“[It’s] an offering where we hope our guests experience the best of the Hunter Valley in terms of refined, thoughtful dishes, seasonal, local produce, and a professional team of service staff that are passionate and intuitive,” he says.

The Muse Dining team in the kitchen making their magic in Pokolbin, Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia.
The Muse Dining team making their magic.

“Being the sole owner allows me to set the standard for passion/values and ethos,” Rhoades-Brown says. “Our guests, staff, suppliers and producers are all treated with great, genuine respect.”

The restaurant, located at the historical Hungerford Hill Winery in the heart of wine country about 160 kilometres north of Sydney, even has its own farm garden.

“These gardens successfully produce heirloom vegetables, edible flowers and herbs for our menus,” according to the restaurant’s website.

“Thank you to all of our local friends and customers who bring their fresh herbs, berries and citrus.”

Amuse-bouche at Muse Dining in the Hunter Valley.
A farmhouse feel at Muse Dining in the Hunter Valley in NSW.

FOOD

Andrea: We arrive at Muse Restaurant on one of the coldest nights this winter – by Australian standards, that is – and are elated to be cosied by its fireplace.

Muse Dining fireplace in the winter
Muse Restaurant guests can enjoy the cosiness of its fireplace.

“Winter in the Hunter Valley brings cold nights, hard frost and August winds,” Muse Dining’s menu reads.

“We keep our stone fireplace well stocked with ironbark timber and the menu leans towards refined comfort food.”

We keep our stone fireplace well stocked with ironbark timber and the menu leans towards refined comfort food.

Muse Dining, Hunter Valley, Australia.

Rex: Our waitstaff present us with no-fuss menus that contain a series of choices across four courses, as well as additional plates including a cheese course.

Andrea: But the food is not limited to what’s on the menu. Shortly, amuse-bouche lands on our table. My favourite is the miniature sushi.

Miniature sushi at Muse Dining in the Hunter Valley.

Rex: The first course, which is set for all guests, is a salad of kohlrabi (a member of the cabbage family), purple daikon, green apple, Lamborn snap peas and sesame, with a school prawn XO broth.

A large portion of the vegetables comes from Morpeth, a small heritage town and former inland port on the banks of the Hunter River several kilometres away.

Andrea: Subtle influences of Japanese cuisine intertwined with Australian native food weaves its way through the evening. Take my second-course choice, for example: the poached Hiramasa kingfish with jerusalem artichoke, finger lime, wakame and coastal succulents.

Rex: I take the slow-cooked lamb breast with black garlic glaze for our main course. At first glance, it looks like a decadent slice of chocolate cake.

Rhoades-Brown explains the lamb breast is slow cooked for eight hours, is deboned, pressed and portioned.

He tells us, “During service we grill it over the iron bark timber then glaze it with a sauce made of house-made black fermented garlic, lamb jus, malt extract and butter.”   

Slow-cooked lamb breast with black garlic glaze at Muse Dining in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia.

It’s as succulent as you’d expect, with every slice cutting through like butter.

Andrea: Meanwhile, I enjoy Hunter Valley pasture raised pig for my own main course. Muse Restaurant orders a whole beast once a fortnight from Melanda Park farm, situated on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, and utilises all of it.

During service we grill [the lamb] over ironbark timber then glaze it with a sauce made of house made black fermented garlic, lamb jus, malt extract and butter.

Troy Rhoades-Brown.

The pig is accompanied by more winter tastes like roasted drumhead cabbage. It’s tinctured by nori (seaweed) and egg white, and gets some ‘bite’ from fermented red wombok, a Chinese cabbage distinguished by its cylindrical shape.

Rex: We also get the optional cheese course. Unlike most cheese courses that offer a selection, Muse Restaurant offers a single-cheese dish: Binnorie goat’s cheese. It’s dripped with honey from the estate and finished off with Tangarook pecans.

Binnorie goat’s cheese, honey from the estate and Tangarook pecans at Muse Dining in the Hunter Valley.
Binnorie Dairy of Lovedale in the Hunter Valley is renowned for its soft fresh cheeses.

Binnorie Dairy of Lovedale in the Hunter Valley is renowned for its soft fresh cheeses, which are usually young. Their flavours don’t benefit from ageing, are soft textured and delicately flavoured.

The dairy’s goat cheese comes from the some of the most recognised milk-producing goat breeds.

WINE

Andrea: Expect sparkling wines like the 2013 Hungerford Hill Dalliance and the 2010 Stormy Ridge Sparkling Shiraz to the NV Vadin-Plateau ‘Grande Reseve’ from Cumieres, France.

There’s a fine selection of semillons from the Hunter Valley – what the region is known for – like the 2014 Tyrell’s Vat 1 Semillon and the 2018 Andrew Thomas ‘Braemore’ Semillon. It also shows off a dessert semillon: the 2016 Hungerford Hill Botrytis.

Rex: But it still gives other parts of the country a chance to shine with the 2016 Stefano Lubiana Riseling from Tasmania and the 2016 Suckfizzle Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon from Margaret River in Western Australia.

It picks some great shiraz wines – also what the Hunter Valley does well. There’s the 2017 Dalwood Estate Shiraz and the 2018 Vinden Nouveau. But it offers reds from other parts of the country too, like the 2017 Farr Rising Pinot Noir, and overseas like the 2017 Albert Bichot Gamay from Beaujolais, France.

AMBIENCE

Andrea: Muse Restaurant exudes country charm. The dim lighting is romantic and elegant, the fireplace gives it a sense of homeliness, and its high ceiling produces the air of a grand farmhouse.

Rex: An open plan sort of farmhouse at that, with the kitchen down one end of the dining space for all to soak up the action.

SERVICE

Andrea: The evening goes by smoothly and we’re charmed by the friendliness and prompt attention of the waitstaff.

Rex: I’m impressed by their superior knowledge about both the dishes and wines, and their ability and willingness to answer our questions about them.

Muse Restaurant encapsulates the abundance of the Hunter Valley. Whether you’re planning a weekend out of town, visiting from overseas or even a local, this establishment promises you a nourishing experience.

Enjoy more culinary adventures at Two Chat Food or follow us on Instagram @twochatfood


Muse Dining | $$$
2450 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW

Opening hours
Wed-Fri: 6:00pm-8:30pm
Sat: 12:00pm-2:30pm, 6:00pm-8:30pm
Sun: 12:00pm-2:30pm
Mon-Tue: Closed

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