Address: 1238 Milbrodale Rd, Broke NSW 2330
With birthdays mere days apart, Jane form What Jane Did and I were bound to have several things in common. Two of those things just happen to be food, writing and road trips so when Jane told me Margan Restaurant had invited us to do a review I was like “hell yeah, let’s do it!” Jane offered to drive provided I curate (yes, curate) a playlist and for the first time since about 2009 I burned a CD of 90s and 00s hits to provide the soundtrack to our epic journey into the Hunter Valley.
After walking through the rammed earth entryway which was fit for a king/Leonardo DiCaprio (same thing, really IMHO), we were greeted by owner Lisa Margan who started the business with her husband Andrew 20 years ago. I think I may have shed a tear as she guided us through the restaurant’s vegetable garden and orchard, which was just bursting with amazing homegrown fruits and vegetables. Classics like corn, asparagus and apples were growing alongside some more interesting plants like elderflower, persimmons and native passionfruit (which has all the flavour of regular passionfruit without the sourness, see below) while chooks roam around the orchard feasting on the fallen fruit. Margan’s fresh produce is all homegrown and the menu changes to suit what’s in season in their very own garden. What a bloody dream come true!
Lisa then took us through the wine-making facilities to show us where the magic happens; which actually isn’t magic at all and more of a precise art. With very little knowledge of wine production, I was blown away by the amount of machinery and expertise that goes into making something that many of us enjoy without really giving it a second thought. The occasional use of egg-white in production means that the Margan whites are a no-go zone but go to town on the reds (drink responsibly pls)!
We made our way back to the restaurant via the barrel room, which was being set up for a wedding later that evening, and I think I lost Jane for a minute as she went into a flower-induced photo frenzy (can’t blame her though, it looked dope.) After taking our seats outside, our lovely server asked us to select from the drinks list. Now, as a bit of a wine dweeb I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but she was able to help me select a sweet, fruity red – the Margan 2014 Merlot which was an excellent recommendation for someone who doesn’t typically do red wine. Food-wise the chefs had prepared a special vegan menu for me on the day and considering what I had just experienced in the veggie garden, I was pretty effing excited.
Some warm olives were served, followed by an amuse bouche of tomatoes and carrots. I was then presented with the garden beetroot served with rhubarb, cacao nibs and hazelnut. For someone who’s a massive fan of the salty and sweet taste sensation, this dish was a winner. Who would’ve thought to chuck cacao nibs on a savoury dish? Not me, that’s for sure!
My main was a buckwheat risotto served with a bunch of fresh vegetables from the garden like asparagus, tomato and zucchini flowers. Regular rice risotto can be so heavy but this buckwheat version was fresh and light but at the same time super satisfying. It sounds ridiculous but knowing that this stuff was all grown on-site makes it all the more amazing.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, dessert was an amazing fruit salad of nectarine, berries and passionfruit served with fresh berry sorbet and crazily fluffy coconut cream. What a combination of sweetness, tartness, iciness and creamth (you should know I invent my own words by now).
After farewelling the attentive, knowledgable and legendary staff, Jane and I walked back to the car and spotted a pomegranate tree. I’m not going to lie, I freaked the eff out and made her take a million photos of me standing in front of it and as I sit writing this I have a tab open which is now dedicated to pomegranate tree research. It will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine.
On the way home, Jane’s navigation system failed us and what should have been an hour-long journey had an extra 40 minutes or so tacked onto it. I used this valuable time to educate Jane on the Tidy Town initiative (something I somehow know a bit about). We also got to hang out with HORSES, which was just a magical way to end the day.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little bit fancy without completely going HAM on the budget, Margan Restaurant should well and truly be on your list. Let them know you’re coming so they can prepare you an equally delightful vegan feast!
Thanks so much to Margan Restaurant for having us! If you want to see more from our visit, check out Jane’s review on What Jane Did.