NSW Restaurants

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley

Dining at Muse Restaurant in the Hunter Valley, you soon run out of superlatives. The award winning restaurant by owners Megan and Troy Rhoades-Brown is located at Hungerford Hill wines in Pokolbin and serves world class contemporary cuisine with a focus on regional produce.

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley
Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley

During Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month in June, Muse Restaurant is presenting one of the most anticipated events of the festival. Dine with the Dynamic Duo will see chef Troy Rhoades-Brown, 2014 Australian Young Restaurateur of the Year and Gwyn Olsen of Briar Ridge Wines, 2014 Gourmet Traveller Young Winemaker of the Year combine talents to bring a delectable 4 course lunch menu matched with Briar Ridge wines.

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley
Accompanying wines for lunch from Briar Ridge

At the media preview of the upcoming lunch, canapés which included spicy macarons were served on the verandah overlooking the vines along with a crisp and refreshing 2012 Briar Ridge Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay from Orange.

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley
House Baked Breads and Olive Oil Butter

Once seated, a selection of bread is offered, sourdough, sesame bread and black garlic and olive oil butter whipped so light that you could eat it with a spoon. But it is the caramelised onion brioche that is the star, and worthy of an encore.

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley
Sashimi of Hiramasa Kingfish

The first course brings a spectacular display of Sashimi of Hiramasa Kingfish paired with 2014 Briar Ridge ‘Dairy Hill’ Semillon. Delicate flavours of the kingfish are combined with verjus from green apples, Lovedale finger limes, an oyster and tarragon emulsion, yoghurt and wasabi in the form of liquid nitrogen. The dish pairs well with the citrus and grassy notes of the Semillon which has hints of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley
Pan Seared Sea Scallops

Next comes the Pan Seared Sea Scallops with melon, clams, lemongrass, ginger, nasturtium leaves and fishbone crumb paired with 2014 Briar Ridge ‘The Briar’ Vineyard Blend. The scallops are perfectly seared and the fishbone crumb adds crunch and texture. The dark dollop beneath the flower is tamarind which adds a lovely tang and sour note to the dish.

Briar Ridge ‘The Briar’ Vineyard Blend is made from five different varietals – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Verdelho and Vermentino – all harvested at once and fermented on skin. The wine is unfiltered and meant to be an expression of what the wines can do regardless of varietal. On the palate, the wine is Sauvignon Blanc dominant, fruity, sweet with a little acid and lacks a good finish but nonetheless worth tasting.

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley
Jerusalem Artichoke, Malfroy’s Honeycomb, French Brie and Hazelnut Butter

The third course is a new addition to the menu and one that will be includes in the Dine with the Dynamic Duo lunch. Jerusalem Artichoke, Malfroy’s Honeycomb, French Brie and Hazelnut Butter may sound like an unlikely combination but this dish was voted the most exciting and the favourite of the group.

The Jerusalem artichokes are peeled and confit in brown butter and hazelnut oil, roasted and turned into a caramelised puree. The skins are lightly fried and served as chips. The combination with the creamy brie is nothing short of sensational. The matching wine is equally impressive, 2014 Briar Ridge ‘Briar Hill’ Chardonnay that has spent 12 months in French oak – one of the best Chardonnay wines tasted in some time.

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley
Hunter Valley Partridge

The next dish is paired with two contrasting wines, 2013 Briar Ridge ‘H.R.B.’ Shiraz Pinot Noir and 2013 Briar Ridge ‘Dairy Hill’ Shiraz. The former is whole bunch fermented, a lighter style that can be served chilled and is described as more feminine with floral notes. The latter is a single vineyard Shiraz, medium bodied with savoury notes of blue fruit and red fruit with silky tannins.

The Hunter Valley Partridge tastes as good at it looks. The bird comes with salt-baked beetroot, black fig and Binnorie goats cheese. The thigh from the partridge is turned into a mousse and stuffed into breast, then wrapped in pork belly and salt baked. This delightful dish picks up savoury earthiness of beetroot and the pork adds salty, crispy and smoky elements. The Briar Ridge ‘H.R.B.’ Shiraz Pinot Noir is the better match, highlighting the savoury notes and not overpowering the flavour of the partridge.

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley
Muse Coconut

If ever there is a moment of silence at the table, it is when dessert is served. The Muse Coconut is a creation to be revered. The husk is made of dark chocolate and sits on a bed of raw shaved coconut. Inside, is a coconut cloud mousse, light as air, filled with coconut water with vanilla bean. This is the best coconut dessert tasted to date if not one of the best desserts. The Muse Coconut is paired with 2014 Briar Ridge ‘Late Harvest’ Gewürztraminer, rich yet finely balanced with subtle honey notes.

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley
Petit Four

When you think dessert is a hard act to follow, comes the Cookie Dough petit four – a taste reminiscent of childhood days in the kitchen waiting to lick the bowl.

Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley
L-R: Chef Troy Rhoades-Brown and Gwyn Olsen, Chief Winemaker

Dine with the Dynamic Duo lunch runs on Sunday 14 June 2015 at 12pm and costs $125 per person including the wines. All dishes featured in this article are included with the exception of the Pan Seared Scallops and the petit four. This event is set to sell out fast so be quick to book.

Photography © by Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

Gourmantic visited the Hunter Valley and dined at Muse Restaurant as guests of the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association.

Muse Restaurant
2450 Broke Rd, Pokolbin,
Hunter Valley, NSW 2320

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.