Going for a drive on the sunshine through the rolling hills of McLaren Vale is a joy in itself but when your destination is The Currant Shed it’s pretty much the perfect Sunday. Walking into the space, you can’t help but let out a sigh, as everything else in the world melts away. Bright and open, with beautifully designed interiors that are well thought out and not at all fussy, it is a pleasure to be there. While it may not have the rolling views of some other venues it has a sense of calm, hiding you from the rest of the world and letting you take a few precious hours just to enjoy the simple pleasures of food, drink and wonderful company (hopefully).
As we settled in we were presented with some tasty, bite sized morsels to get our mouth watering. The Snapper on Potato Crisps was the right combination of salty and sweet and the Puffed Rice with Homemade Kimchi had a great bite and was all the more enjoyed, knowing it was made from ingredients in their garden.
There are a lot of home grown ingredients in the dishes, which the chefs help to tend, meaning the menu is always seasonal and while technical, the dishes are unpretentious, ensuring that each ingredient has a purpose.
The disappointment however was quickly forgotten as the entrées arrived. The menu states Cucumber soup, crème fraiche, mint, however it is so much more. Cucumber from the garden is the star of the dish. A cucumber jelly roll is filled with goats cheese and garnished with salted cucumber and flowers and is then combined with a cucumber and sichuan pepper soup which packs a punch but is extremely refreshing. Beyond the taste, which is phenomenal, the dish is a work of art. The most understated item on the menu is definitely a must.
The Smoked Kingfish, apple, onion, mustard was another triumph. Smokey can often under deliver but on this fish you could taste the earthy, woody flavours. The apple added the right amount of acidity and the tiny onion rings are how all onion rings should be (but often aren’t); crispy on the outside and a burst of sweetness inside. The flavours were well balanced, and while I could have eaten more (because it was so good) the dish was quite filling.
We enjoyed the entrées with a Grüner Veltliner from By Jingo and it was an ideal accompaniment, cutting through the richness of the fish but remaining light enough not to override the more subtle flavours of the dishes.
On to the mains, which were enjoyed with a McLaren Vale Cabernet Franc by Brash Higgins. The Sous vide pork belly, pickled black mussels with corn and seaweed was another fantastic example of a dish where no ingredient was superfluous, everything played a part. The Pork Belly itself was sous vide in milk and then char grilled, giving it a smoky flavour while ensuring it was so tender you could cut it with a butter knife. The richness and fattiness of the protein was offset but the salty muscles and seaweed and the sweetness of the corn. The kind of dish that is complex to put together but effortless to enjoy.
While the pork may have pandered more to the sweet receptors in the tongue, the Wild rabbit, prosciutto, saltbush & warrigal greens definitely catered to those that like it salty. Again the meat was wonderfully cooked and the more gamey nature of rabbit lent itself to the salty elements of the dish and the sweetness of the Balsamic Sherbet, a unique but welcome addition.
Now, for anyone out there at this point who may be inclined to forgo dessert, don’t even think about it, you would never forgive yourself, knowing you had missed out on the best course.
A sophisticated twist on a classic, the Strawberry, shortbread, anise and cream will have everyone smiling. There’s just something wonderful about strawberries and cream, and the best damn shortbread you’ll ever eat!
The Poached pear, marsala, smoked chocolate & parsnip ice-cream is a little more grown up. A dish of sweet vs. savoury, there are a lot of layers and unexpected flavours. The smoked chocolate in itself has a great deal of complexity. While parsnip ice cream may not be for all, risk takers will be rewarded.
Finally, the desert and most likely dish of the day, the Peach semifreddo, raspberry, white chocolate and basil. Bursting with flavour, you are transported to the garden outside. You can taste the juiciness of the freshly picked peach, the tang of the raspberries, only enhanced by the addition of the basil. The white chocolate adds the creaminess and sweetness needed to make magic on a plate.
Overall it is clear that thoughtfulness is what makes The Currant Shed outstanding. A thoughtful use of space, a considered approach to interior design and well thought out dishes, perfectly executed. all lead to an incredible customer experience. Effortlessly intricate, you will leave feeling relaxed yet enlighten.
Words by Olga Winter from Little Miss Stuff
WHERE: 104 Ingoldby Rd, McLaren Flat