Surprise & delight
Basque, Italian or Modern Australian: Spicers now offers three distinct, but equally delicious restaurant experiences in the Hunter.
Spicers Retreats have re-opened Spicers Tower Lodge on behalf of the owners, Michael and Karen Hope, after an extensive, $6m renovation, adding a third, iconic property to their Hunter portfolio. First opened in 1999 by Hunter wine legend Len Evans, the exclusive retreat was built in a modern Spanish mission style in warm, earthy colours, with handmade Mexican terracotta tiles and thick adobe rendered walls.
It’s only fitting that the on-site restaurant, Sebastian, is inspired by the city of San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque country. Famous for its pintxos bars (pronounced “pincho”- Basque for tapas) and world class restaurants, it beautifully blends cosmopolitan flair with local traditions. Foodies count Basque cuisine amongst the world’s culinary treasures, yet it is unpretentious and hearty.
Head chef Gianni Moretto has spent years working in both traditional Basque hospitality and acclaimed Michelin starred restaurants. His regularly changing seasonal menus showcase the fine quality of Hunter produce, inspired by the traditional Basque philosophy of turning to the nearby sea, mountains and valleys for the best ingredients.
The Basque term Txikiteo (pronounced chee-kee-tay-o) means to go from place to place having small glasses of wine and bites of food, having fun and enjoying each other’s company. The five-course set dinner menu at Sebastian invites you to do just that. Chef Gianni wants you to feel a close connection to the food on your plate and to those who created it. So he and his kitchen staff will present the meal, explaining the intricacies of preparation and cooking methods.
Start with truffled éclairs with a delightfully creamy, cured yolk, infused with toasted coffee. Feast on choricero pepper and beef heart skewers, dry aged bonito with yellow pea Koji, tomatoes and horseradish, on grilled venison backstrap with rye burnt leeks, black barley and fresh figs, and quail breast served with beetroot and Jerusalem artichokes. Heaven! The equally sophisticated wine list features Hunter Valley treasures along with iconic Spanish varietals.
With a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere it’s a wonderful addition to Spicers other Hunter retreats and restaurants.
At éRemo, the restaurant at Spicers Guesthouse, head chef Michael Elfwing is exploring all regions of Italy in his modern take on the country’s cuisine. Think ingredients of depth such as whole duck, venison, beef and pasta, root vegetables, flavourful gorgonzola cheeses, truffles, fig jams, scallops and oysters.
Spicers Vineyard Estate’s Restaurant Botanica features down to earth dishes, with a side of innovation. It’s Modern Australian with a sprinkle of English tradition. From coq au vin, lobster rolls and beef Stroganoff to sourdough ice cream with Vegemite caramel, this is comfort food at its most exciting.
“We always strive to surprise you with a little something extra,” says Spicers’ Regional General Manager Andrew McKenna. But he won’t be drawn on further details because “that would spoil the surprise.”
Staff at Spicers are encouraged to be creative and to offer delights they think their guests will enjoy most.
Maybe an amuse gueule, some petit fours or a glass of champagne by a crackling fire, when you don’t want your day to end just yet?
But then, it really doesn’t have to. Spicers Tower Lodge is the perfect luxury escape, Spicers Guesthouse, another Hunter Valley icon, is a natural choice for families and groups of friends, while couples will love a romantic getaway at Spicers Vineyard Estate.
It’s a delightfully difficult choice – and it’s all yours! ¯