“It’ll be something completely unique for what Lobethal has – there’s really nothing like it around in the region,” Josh Kleemann says of Hügel Wine Bar & Kitchen.
Slated for opening next month, the venue will be located at 53 Main Street, Lobethal, in a building Kleemann says started life as a bank in the 1960s and has since housed a range of different businesses, most recently the Emma & Ivy café which has now moved down the street.
Hügel will serve a menu of snacks and share plates from around midday until 10pm from Thursday to Sunday.
Kleemann, who is developing the menu and drinks offering with support from friends in the local hospitality scene, says the focus will primarily be on seasonal Hills produce.
“If I had to pinpoint it, it would be more Italian in style – so using lots of cured meats, local cheese, and also doing all our own house-made bread, house-made pickles and ferments.
“It’ll be a blackboard menu. I love the idea of going to the markets on a Wednesday morning and picking up what I can seasonally from what’s around with local producers.”
He’s planning to partner with wineries to showcase a “winery of the month”, and will offer a drinks lists that champions Hills craft beer and spirits.
Kleemann, who grew up in Lobethal, did a diploma in food and wine management at TAFE in the Barossa and spent two years at Sharon Romeo and David Swain’s Fino Seppeltsfield restaurant. After returning to the Hills he started working at Pike & Joyce wines, most recently as restaurant manager.
He says he has been heavily influenced by the Fino ethos, with its focus on supporting local producers, showcasing quality seasonal produce through simple yet clever dishes, and fostering a friendly dining experience: “The moment you walk in that door you feel like you’re in someone’s home and that’s a driving force.”
That idea will be reflected in the fitout of Hügel Wine Bar & Kitchen, which will have a range of seating areas – some of them communal – set around a large central kitchen island.
“It’s a pretty cool retro space,” Kleemann says.
“The room’s a big open square – it’s got beautiful high ceilings, about 4 metres, and on two sides it has these gorgeous large windows so there’s heaps of natural light …
“In terms of the vibe, I’m trying to keep it a fairly contemporary look with just a little country edge to it – not too rustic.”
Opening his own venue is, he admits, “a leap of faith” – but one he hopes will provide an outlet for his creativity and also strike a chord with locals.
“I’ve spent some time living in the city and have a real appreciation for the small bars there and the food and that kind of style, then moving back to the Hills I’ve found a bit of a hole in the dining space…
“I’m in no way going fine-dining; I just want to create a really lovely, friendly communal space but that has a contemporary edge to it and probably a bit more of a younger demographic focus as well.”
Hügel is the German word for “hill”, with Kleemann saying he chose the name to pay homage to his family’s own German heritage and the history of Lobethal.
“It’s also about creating that sense of place.”
Keep an eye on the Instagram account for updates.
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