The Kitchen Door located in McLaren Vale at Penny’s Hill Winery is a stunning, picturesque dining venue that you must come and experience yourself.
Surrounded by farmland and vineyards, The Kitchen Door offers a relaxed and indulgent experience for any guest.
The lovely and accommodating staff offer wonderful guest experiences, including a fabulous wine tasting at the cellar door while you wait for your meal.
The open dining space with large windows looks out onto spectacular scenery of the historic property where farm meets vineyard.
Owners and husband and wife duo, Kate and Tom Boden, are proud of The Kitchen Door staff and the sustainability of the restaurant.
“We try as much as we can to source local and then make as much as we can from scratch.”
“Penny’s Hill is our home. We are a small close-knit team that all worked on the menu and curate it together,” Kate Boden said.
The whole staff at The Kitchen Door has a say in the menu and collaborate on what works; making small changes every week to meet seasonal demands and keep the menu fresh.
Head Chef Chris Chilvers, also loves the sustainability of the restaurant, even utilising a vegetable garden on the property for fresh ingredients in their meals.
“We have a natural organic garden, which we don’t use any sprays or pesticides.”
“We use all of our own grown vegetables, edible flowers and herbs in our dishes and like to grow the things that are hard to buy and to keep the kitchen sustainable.”
“We hate to waste ingredients so also ferment and create vinegars, oils and sauces with any excess produce we get from the garden,” Chris Chilvers said.
The menu themes around Asian and Europe flavours, all perfectly pairing with the Penny’s Hill house wines.
The Tempura Eggplant, with a sweet and sour sauce and fresh spring onions was beautiful and is a lovely entre option to begin your meal. The crunchy fried batter coating was slightly sweet and combined well with the lovely soft cooked eggplant in the centre, which was deliciously fresh. The sweet and sour sauce was thick and sticky in texture, perfect for sticking to the fried tempura batter. The sauce was delicious and I had to resist the temptation of licking it right off the plate. The added freshness of the fresh spring onion from The Kitchen Door garden added a lovely balance to the fried eggplant and overall held a lovely flavour combination and texture balance of sticky, crunchy and softness.
The ½ Dozen Natural Gazander Oysters were served with a mignonette and topped with puffed rice. The oysters, from Coffin Bay, were beautifully fresh and carried a lovely salty flavour of the sea. The puffed rice topping held a slight crunch, balancing well with the smooth coolness of the oyster itself. The Mignonette had a red vinegar base, which gave a strong sour tang to balance the slaty flavours.
The Berkshire Pork Terrine was served with egg yolk jam, apple and witlof salad. The pork terrine was cooked well, holding deep meaty flavours with a hint of saltiness. This was accompanied with the sweeter and silky yolk jam; adding smooth textures throughout the dish. The terrine held deep and rich fatty flavours from the pork, while the pickled tang from the crunchy witlof salad gave a balance of flavours with deep smoky and savoury meat flavours mixed with the pickled sourness. Overall the dish was quite light and full of flavour.
The Kingfish Tataki with tempura nori and sesame and soy dressing was fresh from Port Lincoln and was beautifully cooked and prepared. The thin sashimi like pieces were seared on the outside and left raw in the middle, keeping the Kingfish’s natural flavours. The fish was beautiful and fresh and held a lovely, slightly crunchy outer from the sesame which also gave off deeper earthy tones to balance with the sea. The Nori seaweed was done tempura style, with a crunchy, more savoury outer coating, while the seaweed itself gave off salty tones. This saltiness was balanced well with the saltiness of the fish, and didn’t overpower the meal but rather intensified the flavours.
The house made Chicken Liver Parfait was served with red onion jam and toasted brioche. The French style parfait was surrounded by house-churned butter and was intensely rich and decadent. We could not stop eating once we started, not letting any bit of the delicious Chicken Liver Parfait go to waste. The creamy and light meaty flavour gave way to the deeper liver flavour slightly coming through that did not overpower the dish but added to the slight smoky tones. The creamy butter outer was silky smooth and paired perfectly with the sweeter tang of the caramelised onion jam. The house made brioche was light and crumbly, which melted in your mouth. Just perfect. The texture and flavour of the toast paired well with the smooth and creamy parfait. This dish was definitely a favourite of the day.
The Potato Gnocchi was made with porcini butter, Jerusalem artichoke and freshly graded Parmesan. The Gnocchi was beautifully soft and creamy and overall was a delicious meal. We just couldn’t stop eating as soon as we took the first bite. The soft potato Gnocchi melted instantly in your mouth, while the fried artichoke balanced the textures, adding a nice crisp crunch. The Gnocchi was pan-fried in porcini butter to give off deeper, earthier flavours that balanced perfectly with the creaminess of the potato gnocchi, the Jerusalem artichoke pure, and the slowly melting Parmesan cheese on top; which gave a nice kick and tied the dish together. The cheesy softness with the crispy, crunchy artichokes was just perfect. A beautiful balance of flavours; this dish was definitely another favourite of the day.
The Market Fish was Pink Snapper, served with sprouting broccoli, salsa verde and almonds. From the Spencer Gulf, the pan-roasted snapper had a lovely crunch to the crispy skin while the meat was cooked perfectly. The fish was lovely and fresh and was soft and well cooked. The lemon dressing was prominent but didn’t overpower the dish, just gave some acidity to balance the salty flavours of the fish and the fried skin. The beans added a soft creamy flavour to the dish, while the fennel and sprouting broccoli gave off more EARTHY flavours. All flavours balanced well: the salty sea, with the … earth and the sour tang of the lemon with the sweet …
The Pan Roasted Duck Breast and Slow Cooked Duck Leg was served with a red curry sauce and lychee. This dish reminded us of a modern dry duck Thai inspired curry from its red curry sauce base and we could not wait to dig in. The roasted duck was cooked perfectly. The leg was juicy and tender and easily fell of the bone, while the breast had a denser meat texture but still held juiciness and was cooked with the perfect crispy salty skin, which made my mouth water. The curry sauce balanced with the salt and deep flavours of the duck meat, however the curry was quite mild and anyone, including non-curry lovers, would definitely enjoy this meal. The balance of the sweet lychee was a wonderful additive and the tang of the coriander with the salty and savoury meat were perfect. Another wonderful meal we couldn’t fault.
The Grass Fed Black Angus Sirloin with Ssamjang and a pickled daikon salad was cooked perfectly; the rare beef was seared on the outside and left beautifully juicy and tender in the centre. The meat held strong smoky flavours from the flame grill, while the pickled salad gave a strong hit of sour tang. The overall flavours balanced well, the smoky flame grill flavour and the tang of pickles with a hint of sweetness in the Ssamjang jus was divine. And a lovely dish that made the Black Angus Sirloin the hero.
For dessert we were treated with a Pistachio and Polenta Cake with yoghurt sorbet and port syrup. The lovely thick cake was light and refreshing. The added citrus zest assisted with this and made for a fruity and flavourful dessert. The smooth yogurt sorbet was slightly tangy, also having a strong citrus zest flavour but balanced well with the nuttier, slaty flavours of the pistachios. It almost had the taste of an orange cake, but help deeper flavours with the polenta and pistachio nuts. Overall the cake was delicious and full of flavour and texture.
The Chocolate Fondant lava cake was served with chocolate sorbet and honeycomb shards. This dessert was decadent and rich in flavour. The thick and rich chocolate oozed out of the warm fondant cake. The sweet honeycomb had a crunchy outer and chewy centre, adding a sweeter flavour and texture to the otherwise soft and creamy dish. The dish held a lovely balance of hot and cold flavours and is definitely a perfect dessert for any chocolate lover.
The Caramel Ontrome mouse cake was served with a blood orange sorbet and light almond and white chocolate crisp. The sweet crisp had an earthy almond flavour which was sugary and sweet from the chocolate. Paired with a dark chocolate outer coating to the caramel dome, and the sweet thick caramel centre, the dessert was rich in flavour. The chocolate mouse was silky smooth and softened the sweet caramel. The Blood orange sorbet gave a lovely sweet citrus acidity to the dish and was a lovely pairing to the rich dark chocolate.
All the dishes we tasted were spectacular in both appearance and flavour and from them you could tell the pride The Kitchen Door puts into obtaining the freshest of ingredients into each and every dish.
Penny’s Hill Winery is not just home to a spectacular restaurant but also a cellar door and soon to be home to a Gin Bar as well.
“A Gin Bar is going to be opening up here in October. It will be showcasing Kangaroo Island Spirit Gin’s as well as our new Mad Men Gin.”
“We will have a Gin Bar, Wine Cellar door and Restaurant all on the same property; It’s going to be huge,” Kate Boden said.
Penny’s Hill also caters for many events including weddings at their beautiful estate; and aim to always have a variety of spirits, wines, craft beers and food options to ensure they have something that will please any customer.
“We try and cater to not just the local market but around Adelaide. People are more wiser with their wine these days so you need a broad spectrum of things for them,” Kate Boden said.
The Kitchen Door is open for lunch from 12noon till 3pm, seven days a week and are also open by appointment in the evenings.
Words by Cyndal King
WHERE: 281 Main Rd, McLaren Vale