When heading South West to Canberra or the Snowy Mountains, at the perfect lunch time point of around 3 hours from Sydney, you will find the quietly elegant Westering restaurant at Lake George Winery. Situated on 150 hectares across from the vast seasonal lake bed of Lake George and nestled into the foot of the surrounding Cullerin Escarpment, this picturesque estate houses a vineyard, cellar door, cafe, restaurant and conference facility, and is a popular destination for special events, wedding ceremonies and their receptions.
We chose a stress-free Sunday to visit the winery and were greeted warmly upon arrival by restaurant manager, Janine, who showed my guest and me to our table. My first impression of the restaurant was ‘generous’. The restaurant floor was spacious, the ceiling high and sky-lit, the table layout well spaced and the dining tables comfortably large.
The decor of stone, wood and glass blended smoothly with the natural surrounds to create a relaxed yet grand atmosphere. Janine brought water and menus to our table and then asked us if we would like to start with a drink. When our answer was “yes”, she suggested a tasting of some of the estate’s award winning wines.
Here we met Sam Kavelas who was host of the tasting bar. We tried a selection of house wines while Sam told us about the history of the vineyard, their wine making process, the region’s quality of cool climate wines, and revealed that their wine is crafted by award winning local winemaker, Nick O’Leary. We also learnt that the estate has been a Kavelas family business since 1997 and has been operating in various ways since then, leading up to the business as it is today.
We tried a variety of excellent wines including a crisp and dry 2012 Riesling, their full bodied 2013 Pinot Gris, a deliciously fruity and fragrant 2015 Rose, their slow matured and soft on the palate 2013 Shiraz, and a woody but light 2012 Pinot Noir. Although there was a spittoon available, these quality wines were gladly savoured by my guest and I and not wasted down the throat of the thirsty spittoon! The wines at Lake George Winery are reasonably priced from $20 to $42 per bottle and are available through the cellar door.
By now, we are hungry and looking forward to our lunch. Once seated back at our table, Janine brought us Sonoma Sourdough Bread Served with 'Westering Evoo' for dipping, and poured our choice of wine for our meal which was the Lake George Winery 2012 Riesling that we had tasted earlier. The menu choices were offered as Two Courses for $55 or Three Courses for $70, with optional complementing wines additional.
When our entrees arrived we were immediately impressed with the presentation of the food. I chose the Smoked Duck Breast, Spanish Onion, Crispy Jammon, Watercress & Vissono Cherry which did not disappoint my duck loving tastebuds. The smoked flavour of the finely sliced duck meat was tantalisingly aromatic, complemented perfectly with the rich and sticky vissono cherries and sauce. The salad added freshness while the crispy jammon provided the salty crunch that brought the dish together to a mouth-watering success.
My entree had served its purpose and I was now looking forward to my main course of Pork Belly, Seared Scallop, Onion Marmalade, Apple, Fennel Slaw with White Balsamic Pear & Lavender which was served with a timely short break between courses. Again, the dish presentation was picture perfect and enticing. I began with the glisteningly fresh, gently seared scallops that were so perfectly cooked they almost melted like butter in your mouth. The salad consisted of dressed, finely sliced refreshing ingredients that blended classically with the roasted pork belly hero of the plate that sat atop its own accompaniment of a bed of glossy onion jam. The pork was a little firm for my taste but was moist and flavourful, with the star attraction crackling delivering in spades with abundance and crunch.
We asked for an interval before our dessert arrived and took the opportunity to chat with Janine about the functions held at the winery. We learned the venue was very popular for weddings in the vineyard followed by a restaurant reception, and for corporate conferences that were generally held in the wine cellar as it was dark enough to enable projected presentations. We wandered downstairs to take a look and were impressed by the ambience the setting offered to businesses.
By now I was ready for my dessert of Rose Poached Pear Frangipane with Chai Ice Cream where the dish presentation proved to be of a consistent high standard. My tart was crowned with an enormous ball of creamy chai flavoured ice cream that went very nicely with the soft flavour of the Frangipane. The warm tart had a delightfully crunchy base, a decadent almond filling and was topped with the delicate rose poached pears that all blended perfectly to create harmony on a plate.
I found Lake George Winery to be a quality restaurant with a welcoming understated atmosphere that allows the diner to kick back and enjoy the surrounding views whilst savouring well crafted wines and a thoughtful gourmet menu. Located 30 mins from Canberra on the Federal Highway The restaurant and cellar door are open from Thursday through Sunday from 9am to 4.30 pm for coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and wine tasting.
For more Information visit Lake George Winery www.lakegeorgewinery.com.au
About our Contributor: Julie Harrington
Disclaimer: Sydney Chic dined as guests of Lake George Winery