Long weekends are made for long lunches and that’s exactly how we’re spending our Queen’s birthday Sunday.
At 1pm sharp we take our place at one of two long tables in the light-filled Pavilion at The Entrance Hotel and settle in for a feast, fit for a Queen.
Located on the edge of the lake, with nothing but blue sky, palm trees and pines around, we begin our Entrance long lunch with a celebratory glass of premium Henschke sparkling.
Pretty flowers in jars decorate the communal tables, an army of wine glasses mobilises on a nearby table and the array of cutlery surrounding each place hints at what lies ahead.
Once we’re all seated and sufficiently through our sparkling, the scent of truffle fills the air and the first course of parmesan and truffle arancini lands on our plate, followed soon after by a glass of Henschke’s 2014 Julius Eden Valley riesling.
Although the four-course lunch only costs $65 including matching wines, our sommelier for the day, Greg Macarthur from Fine Wines, explains that each drop is a premium wine with some retailing for $80 a bottle.
It’s incredibly good value, especially when he throws in a bonus mystery wine, which turns out to be a glass of St Hallett’s 2012 Mataro.
Our journey into the Barossa continues with a hearty St Hallett Touriga Nacional which is paired with an entree of duck terrine.
Served on a salad of beetroot three ways, hazelnuts, pea tendrils and radish, it’s packed with flavour and crunch.
The man behind the extraordinary food is highly-acclaimed Italian-born chef Danny Russo.
While he has prepared mouth-watering menus in venues all over Australia, this is the first time The Entrance Hotel has offered him up for a long lunch.
We’ve been sipping wine and merrily chatting away to our neighbours for several hours by the time the main course arrives.
It’s a slow-cooked lamb shoulder which slides right off the bone and is accompanied by sweet, charred heirloom carrots with almond gremolata, a mountain of spinach and rosemary potatoes cooked in duck fat.
It’s perfectly paired with a glass of St Hallett’s Garden of Eden shiraz.
Before we know it, it’s after 4pm and we’re tucking into our final course – which, fittingly, draws on some of the wines we’ve been drinking.
The plate is smeared with morish dulce de leche, a generous scoop of rich dark chocolate mousse which has been made with a splash of red wine, and pieces of pear roasted in honey, butter and the Henschke Noble gewurtztraminer we’re now enjoying with dessert.
It’s after 5pm by the time we pry ourselves from the white-clothed table and out into the fading day light and twinkling fairy lights of the hotel’s beer garden.
We came for the food and wine but have overstayed to enjoy the great company of fellow Coasties.
Coastal Chic Tip: The hotel is putting on a decadent high tea for the 2016 June long weekend – for more details and to book visit The Entrance Hotel