One of McLaren Vale’s intimate country dining experiences, quality wine in a cosy setting.
Situated in McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, the Barn Bistro is in the perfect location to entice locals, tourists and wine enthusiasts alike. We arrived quite late, due to delayed flight from Melbourne, and walked through the restaurant through the back entrance into a stunning courtyard area. Fairy lights hung all along the wooden beams above us, the main lights were dimly lit and there were candles on each table providing us with a wonderful first impression of this quaint bistro in the Hills. For a Friday night, it was quite empty. Though we did arrive only 15 minutes before last orders to the kitchen.
Soft music was being played over the speakers which helped set the perfect mood for intimate dining with amazing wine and good food.
As our flight was delayed, we called up apologetically explaining our situation. The friendly man looking after the front of house said, “Oh, don’t worry about it! As long as the food order is in before 9pm, you’re welcome to sit for as long as you like!”
It seemed like the same gentleman greeted us as we arrived and was very meticulous in making us feel welcome and his service was great. As he was creepily listening to us discuss what to order, he just came over to us and listed our order for us! Very efficient, but slightly odd. He did also recommend a great glass of red wine to go with our meal.
The Barn Bistro menu offered entrees, sharing dishes, main meals and desserts. We decided to go for a mix of two sharing plates, a main and dessert. These dishes included:
- Haloumi, chorizo, pear and fennel salad with vino cotta dressing
- Crispy Berkshire pork belly with swede puree and caramelised orange glaze
- Slow braised beef ribs, horseradish and potato mash with roast turnip chips
- Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream
Usually, crispy pork belly is a favourite of ours… But we were sorely disappointed. For lovers of crispy pork belly, you know what to expect: crispy skin which just crunches and crackles, meat that just melts in your mouth and a bit of sweetness accompanied with it (either through caramelisation or a puree of fruit, eg: apple). This dish was everything that it ideally shouldn’t be. The pork belly was half crispy and half chewy on both ends and the swede puree simply did not do it for us. We even had the unpleasant experience of the pork belly getting stuck in our teeth — something no one likes!
Fortunately, the haloumi salad faired better in comparison. The haloumi was cooked well and the combination of salty and sweet elements on the dish worked together nicely. Despite this, it was not a stand out salad by any means.
The main. The beef rib was very nicely done, it fell off the bone cleanly and was well cooked. The side of mash let down the dish as a whole, unfortunately. As avid mash potato fans, we were left utterly confused. Is it mash? Or did they change their minds halfway through? The mash, if you could call it that, was chunky, lumpy and dry. There was also no kick of horseradish either, which was advertised on the menu – so that was a let down.
Probably the best item we were served was the dessert. The sticky date pudding was soft and spongy, which made it a delight to cut through, and the ice cream tasted fresh and creamy.
The Barn Bistro is situated in the absolutely beautiful wine region of McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills. It is in the perfect location with fantastic ambiance, friendly service and a menu which reads great, but the quality of food begs to differ. Unfortunately we would not return for the food, however if we were to come back, it would be for their wine selection. If the Barn Bistro offered better quality food, we would consider running back… Or maybe walk, who knows.