Settle in for a long, lazy lunch at this hatted restaurant amongst the vines.
Mudgee is a town whose food and wine scene has exploded in recent years, and riding on the crest of the wave is The Zin House restaurant on the outskirts of town.
Located on a 1000-acre organic farm and adjacent to Lowe Winery, The Zin House marries an unwavering paddock-to-plate ethos with a refreshingly unpretentious take on modern fine dining. This is a hatted restaurant, but it feels more like you’re at a close friend’s place for lunch.
That down to earth vibe is in part thanks to the restaurant’s location in a contemporary farmhouse overlooking the rolling hills of Mudgee. The former home of Zin House owner / chef Kim Currie and her partner David Lowe, it’s an inviting, comfortable space with polished concrete floors, rustic pendant lights and huge windows framing the vines and orchards beyond.
The kitchen and main dining room are divided only by an enormous island bench overflowing with newly harvested produce, jugs full of herbs and freshly baked bread.
Our waiter, Kim and David’s delightful son, Alex Lowe, points in the direction of his childhood bedroom as he splashes local Mudgee chardonnay into our glasses and tells us about the house. It’s little wonder we feel so, well, at home. And thankfully so, because this would be a blissfully languid lunch that would carry us almost to dinnertime.
The menu at the Zin House changes regularly, with all produce coming straight from the sprawling kitchen garden or from fellow Mudgee growers. It’s a set menu with five or six courses and optional wine pairing.
They don’t turn tables around, so guests are encourage to graze slowly if they wish, or even take a wander around the property between courses. It’s all very relaxed, and the pace is on your terms.
The food here is as down to earth as the location, with a firm focus on fresh produce treated simply. You won’t find any fancy foams, deconstructed this or that, smears, stacks or intricate plating here, instead just big, hearty plates of wholesome food to share between friends.
You might, as in our case, spy the chef lovingly handpicking edible flowers in the courtyard which shortly thereafter arrive atop your chocolate canele with rose poached rubarb from the garden and honey ice-cream courtesy of the bees kept onsite. There is no shortage of passion for food here.
We kicked off our grazing with potato, rosemary and onion sourdough, local Mudgee olives and artichokes with orange salt, followed by melt-in-your-mouth-delicious wagyu prosciutto with a blood orange and beetroot salad – easily my favourite dish of the day.
The three-cheese tortellini with garlic and chilli sautéed Mudgee mushrooms was a huge hit and necessitated a long (and by this stage, slightly boozy) meander through the veggie garden in way of an hiatus before the main course.
By the time an enormous plate of succulent verjuice marinated spatchcock with potatoes cooked in the roasting juices arrived, we had space to really enjoy it. To top it all off we enjoyed the aforementioned dessert, which I’ll be dreaming about for months. Creamy honey ice-cream is nothing short of heaven.
For a fabulous foodie experience that manages to encapsulate everything that’s wonderful about Mudgee, book yourself into The Zin House and settle in for a wholesome long lunch with a difference.