Although it was a couple of years in the planning, the new Magill Estate Kitchen and Cellar Door came as a nice surprise.
The development of South Australia’s most iconic winery into a more accessible destination seems a smart move. A casual indoor and outdoor dining space and new cellar door at the front of the winery overlooks the original Penfolds vineyards and the stretch of Adelaide that reaches east to west from the foothills to the coast. It’s moving, and on a clear day you can see the sea.
The historic bluestone buildings with their oxblood quoins, the same colour as the Penfolds brand, are juxtaposed against the new architect-designed (Denton Corker Marshall) cellar door and restaurant. A lot of thought has gone into the design; even the tasting rooms have been fitted out with French and American oak to produce a palpable winery aroma.
The interior is earthy, simple, state-of-the-art and artistic, bringing together the old and the new, history and elegance, as a complete sensory and interpretive experience. All this means that Magill Estate has lost that cloistered and intimidating edge, throwing open its doors to offer more people the opportunity to get to know the home of Australia’s most famous wine.
Magill Estate Kitchen is headed up by husband-and-wife chef team Scott Huggins and Emma McCaskill, who also run the recently renovated and award-winning Magill Estate Restaurant.
The menu is designed around enjoying the wine, with snacks, small plates and an extensive selection of cheese and charcuterie for grazing. Long lunches are also catered for with a small selection of larger dishes and sides, and a children’s menu. A list of daily specials offering further snacks and larger dishes fills out the food offering.
Offerings are inclusive in every way, acknowledging local produce and producers (without the brand names – but you all know who you are). They also range in sophistication from surprisingly basic finger food to some cheeses you would need a degree of fluency in French and Italian to pronounce.
Favourite dish: Lamb, yoghurt and soft herbs ($12). This was one of the small plates – a perfect size for sharing or a light lunch. A smoky, char-grilled lamb fillet was served sliced on a bed of seasoned yoghurt and topped with fresh snipped fennel, mint and chervil and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. The lamb was excellent, so beautifully cooked and presented that it made us wish we’d ordered the larger dish of beef cheeks with roasted carrot and onions ($32).
Other dishes: Roasted beetroots (sic), goat’s cheese and smoked almonds ($16). Another small plate for sharing, this dish was pretty to look at but far less impressive to taste. The beetroot lacked flavour and texture for a roasted root vegetable, and the goat’s cheese was oddly sweet.
On the day InDaily visited, it was recommended we try the hot-style chicken wings ($12) on the specials menu. “They always sell out,” we were told. A bowl of crumbed chicken wings arrived in a bowl with a couple of dill pickles, a big bottle of Tabasco sauce and a finger bowl. The chicken wings were tasty and tender, but overall the dish was underwhelming – and why the store-bought hot sauce?
Something sweet/to drink: There is Penfolds white wine, Penfolds red wine and Penfolds dessert wine. For $90, you can taste 90mls of the 2010 Grange. You can also taste just about every other blend and varietal Penfolds produces, but if you’re not there for the wine, there is a large selection of Coopers beers, Hills Cider and Bickfords Old Time Sodas. We chose a 150ml pour of Bin 23 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir ($12).
For dessert, we thought the baked apple pie with pouring cream ($14) would be a winner, but it was sadly disappointing. A shallow earthenware dish filled with cooked diced apple, topped with a lattice of pastry and accompanied by a tiny jug of cream arrived at the table. It looked lovely, but the apple pieces were slightly shrivelled, a little too firm and lacked spice. The pastry was under-cooked and overall it was far too sweet.
Magill Estate Kitchen may still be going through a settling-in period and, with time, hopefully issues with some of the dishes will be ironed out, because it is certainly a place you would want to take visiting friends and relatives. We would happily return for the beautiful setting, the view, the interior, the crockery, the wine and the lamb, and to try more of the menu.
Magill Estate Kitchen
Monday to Sunday 9am to 5pm
78 Penfold Road, Magill, 8301 5943
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