Andrew Wright is feeling the heat as the chef of Brokenwood Wines foray into the restaurant game, but argues the winery link makes his job creating a menu easier.
"Semillon and chardonnay are so seafood-friendly we had to go with a strong seafood line-up, which we have coming straight from the markets," Wright says.
The Hunter Valley veteran behind The Cellar restaurant at Hunter Valley Gardens will steer the casual Cru Bar + Pantry and the Wood Restaurant, which are part of $8 million redevelopment of Brokenwood's Hunter Valley HQ.
"They've done an incredible job, right down to the five-year-old magnolia tree they've planted in the courtyard and built a deck around," Wright says.
The chef, who is operating the restaurant with his wife Janet, presides over a seafood menu that shifts from fresh oysters to caviar, salt cod fritters and a Normandy fish stew.
Wine tasters do not live on seafood alone, so there's plenty of meat and charcuterie. They even use an in-house Brokenwood verjuice.
"When I moved to the Hunter 20 years ago there were about six restaurants; there are about 80 now," the chef says.
Evidently camaraderie remains strong in the valley. "Our first function next Saturday is the Christmas party for another winery."
The Wood Restaurant – open lunch daily; dinner Fri-Sat.
Cru Bar + Pantry – open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm; Sat-Sun 8am-5pm.
Brokenwood Wines, 401-427 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin, 02 4998 7559.