Travel Advice - Monday 28th September 2020

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HUNTER VALLEY BLOG

With more than 150 wineries and cellar doors, 65 restaurants and 180 comfy accommodation places to stay, where do you start?

Follow our insider tips by the people who know best… the locals. We ask talented winemakers, chefs, farmers, brewers and journalists to blog about their favourite places and experiences in this fertile wine region.

5 Restaurants tailor-made for group dining

Getting the gang together for a long lunch or delicious dinner is super-easy in the Hunter Valley with 50 plus fabulous eateries. You can break bread amid the bustle of the main dining room, which is always fun, but if you want to spoil yourself with a discreet outing away from the crowd we've got that covered too. Here are five favourites that offer private and semi-private dining spaces perfect for a milestone birthday, team dinner with workmates or just a fancy feast with friends.

You can take up to 14 people to this impressive dining space at the rear of Eremo Restaurant at Spicers Guesthouse.It's completely private with sliding glass doors that can be curtained off, but then you wouldn't be able to drool over the floor-to-ceiling wall of wine bottles just outside.

There are also gorgeous views of the surrounding bushland on the other side and the room itself has a luxe feel with a stone fireplace, leather chairs and a spectacular twig-like chandelier taking centre stage above the timber table. You dine on tasty Italian food created by Eremo's executive chef Cameron Matthews – from either the á la carte or Avido menu – with vino from a first-rate wine list, including some of the Hunter's best vintages.

​Having a meal at this two-hatted fine diner is always a special experience, but parties of up to 20 wanting an exclusive event head to the private room adjoining the main dining space. Separated by a two-sided fireplace and open bar, it can accommodate a minimum of eight and max of 20 for lunch or dinner.

The vaulted ceiling soars metres above you and Troy Rhoades-Brown's creative menu inspired by what's in season offers a sky-high culinary adventure. Your choice of menu depends on the number of diners, but Troy's bespoke dishes are always bursting with beautiful flavours so certain to win your guests over. The pièce de résistance is the Muse Coconut dessert – surely the most Instagrammed dessert ever.

​This exquisite bistro has a dress circle location, high on a hill in Mount View, with some of the best views in the Valley. It's also ideal for groups as it has a semi-private dining space overlooking green fields and vines that can be curtained off from the rest of the restaurant.

Grab 32 of your mates for a bang-up banquet courtesy of renowned owner/chef Robert Molines. For group dining there's a semi-set menu that includes two canapes, a banquet of four entrees and a choice of three main courses and two desserts, plus cheese and tea/coffee. The French-inspired menu is tres bon, as is the short but satisfying wine list of Aussie and European drops.

The 90-seat Wood Restaurant has oodles of room for groups, but Brokenwood's $8 million makeover also includes a couple of private rooms tucked away that are spot-on for intimate dining. You can choose between the Beeston or Halliday rooms, both seating 12 guests or they can be combined if you want to invite 24 of your nearest and dearest.

Groups can choose between three menus by talented chef Andy Wright, who ran The Cellar Restaurant for 18 years before selling it last year. There's the option of a paella party with the chef preparing the classic Spanish dish in front of you, splitting a few wood-fired pizzas with your friends, or ordering a banquet-style, four-course feast from the seasonal menu.

Looking for a historic dining spot for a lavish shindig? The Ben Ean distillery was built in 1907 and produced brandy spirit for fortified wine until 1963, but today it's an intimate wining and dining space for groups of 12 with the old copper still the key feature in one corner of the room.

You can hang out with your mates and tuck into food from the onsite Baume Restaurant – from simple share plate lunches that are great for groups to seven-course degustations, paired with estate-grown Hunter wines, Lindeman's Coonawarra Trio and Penfolds ranges. The top-of-the-range, six-course Penfolds Kings dinner including wine, is a princely $495pp, but it's hosted by a winemaker and includes the stellar 2014 Grange.

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