Bistro Molines in the Hunter Valley

Having arrived by car in the Hunter Valley in the late afternoon, we headed to Bistro Molines at Mount View for our first meal in New South Wales’ major winemaking region. I had consulted friends and the Internet on where to dine, and this restaurant repeatedly featured as a popular recommendation. Reservations are absolutely essential if you want to avoid disappointment, so send them an email in advance or give them a call to ensure you have a table before you make your way down. It’s a bit of a drive so you really don’t want to be disappointed when you finally reach the restaurant.

The doorway to an amazing meal
The doorway to an amazing meal
Getting comfortable inside Bistro Molines
Getting comfortable inside Bistro Molines

As we settled in, our server explained to us the specials for the day. The menu is designed to prepare local produce with French techniques, melding the two to deliver food that is spectacular in aesthetics and taste. Having made our choices, we each got a glass of Shiraz produced by the adjacent winery and placed our orders.

Scallop mousseline with roe beurre blanc and sautéed Tasmanian scallops
Scallop mousseline with roe beurre blanc and sautéed Tasmanian scallops (A$29)

At A$29, it takes a lot for an entrée to be impressive, but this delivered on the expectations set by its price tag in abundance. It would have been impetuous to even ponder over the freshness of the seafood. The scallops formed the central flavour of the starter, with their taste highlighted by the roe in the beurre blanc sauce. The micro herbs added a tiny bit of crunch and pepperiness to the dish, helping to balance its richness and full-on flavours. It was very impressive.

Pris' clam chowder with steamed clams, chives, carrot and crouton
Pris’ clam chowder with steamed clams, chives, carrot and crouton (A$26)

I usually only share photos and my opinions of the dishes I order, but I thought Pris’ clam chowder deserved at least a mention because it tasted rich, just the right side of salty and had some of the largest clams I’d come across. Initially, I thought they were mussels, but it was immediately obvious on closer inspection that I was mistaken and these were indeed some of the largest clams I’ve seen and tasted. They were juicy and cooked just enough to avoid becoming rubbery.

Beef fillet mignon with caramelised onion, potato rosti and wilted spinach, red wine jus and bearnaise
Beef fillet mignon with caramelised onion, potato rosti and wilted spinach, red wine jus and bearnaise (A$41)

I wasn’t expecting such a large cut of beef fillet, for sure. Wrapped in a layer of bacon, the insides were cooked medium rare and extremely flavourful and juicy. This is easily one of the best steaks I’ve had and made even tastier with the accompanying sides of caramelised onions and wilted spinach. While red wine jus and bearnaise sauce have never ranked highly on my list of preferred steak sauces, these two together on the plate just made perfect sense with the steak. Rosti in Singapore usually refers to shredded potato pancakes, pan-fried with oil and butter to hold them together. Not so in this case, as the potato rosti was in a compact rectangular block; while its crust was a golden brown, the insides were fully cooked and packed with peppery flavour notes.

Pistachio and walnut baklava, spiced syrup and pistachio ice cream
Pistachio and walnut baklava, spiced syrup and pistachio ice cream (A$17)

Every time I lay my eyes on baklava, I instantly get the false impression that it’ll be a crispy roll of dessert, so you can probably imagine my dismay each time the truth hits me and I remember how dense the item really is (I don’t know why I never learn my lesson). It’s almost unforgivably sweet, too, and this version by Bistro Molines is no exception. Fortunately, Pris and I have a habit of ordering just one dessert to share between us, so we managed to finish this. The ice cream’s pistachio flavour was quite subtle but evidently present.

Having practically come to the end of my week-long vacation in Sydney, I can confidently say that Bistro Molines ranks as one of the top three restaurants I’ve eaten at during this visit. The menu is definitely price-y but I felt that it justified the experience and quality of the food I was served. And while its location is not the most conveniently accessible, if you’re visiting the Hunter Valley on your own schedule, you would be driving anyway, right? Just watch out for those pesky kangaroos that come out at night – we came across two on our drive back to our lodging, and I can tell you they are definitely fond of headlights.

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