The Australian - Wish Magazine - - FOOD -

It has a list of in­ter­na­tional wine­mak­ing awards longer than your arm, but Bird in Hand in the Ade­laide Hills is more than a win­ery, and its restau­rant The Gallery – as the name sug­gests – is more than a restau­rant.

The busi­ness was started in 1997, on the site of an old dairy farm and former gold­mine. An­drew Nugent, an agri­cul­tural col­lege grad­u­ate fresh from an ap­pren­tice­ship at Tat­achilla, planted vines and con­verted the run­down dairy into of­fices and sheds into the win­ery. The el­e­va­tion made it suit­able for cool-cli­mate grapes as well as the sta­ple chardon­nay and shi­raz.

Grad­u­ally Bird in Hand be­gan of­fer­ing more than cel­lar-door tast­ings and lunch in idyl­lic grounds, just 45 min­utes from the cen­tre of Ade­laide. It be­came a place to slow down, view the es­tate’s grow­ing con­tem­po­rary art col­lec­tion, per­haps hear a con­cert, and en­joy wine and food with friends. “We love the con­nec­tion be­tween food and wine and mu­sic and art,” Nugent says. “The Gallery is an art gallery as well as a restau­rant, a place for con­ver­sa­tion and cul­ture. The al­co­hol flows freely, there’s shar­ing and en­gag­ing and tak­ing the time to en­joy the pro­duce. Be­ing a win­ery, it’s dif­fer­ent to a city restau­rant where it’s about turn­ing ta­bles over. We like our guests to come for the day, do a wine tast­ing, walk the grounds, look at the art and make a day of it.”

Nugent keeps an eye out for new ac­qui­si­tions from emerg­ing Australian and in­ter­na­tional artists, with the help of a lo­cal gallery and one in Ber­lin. The guid­ing prin­ci­ple is en­joy­ment, not in­tim­i­da­tion. “We don’t like peo­ple be­ing made un­com­fort­able or feel­ing they don’t know enough. We’re en­gag­ing in cre­ative fields that are linked to­gether to pro­vide peo­ple with an ex­pe­ri­ence.”

In 2013 Nugent de­cided to take the food up a notch. The Gallery, open ev­ery day for lunch, of­fers two ex­pe­ri­ences: the Joy Flight, a de­gus­ta­tion that changes with the sea­sons, but which might in­clude Cof­fin Bay oys­ters, baby king­fish and wagyu beef, fol­lowed by cheeses and dessert; and the Sig­na­ture Flight, a shar­ing menu of sim­i­larly sea­sonal pro­duce ei­ther grown in the kitchen gar­den or sourced from lo­cal providers. Sug­gested wine pair­ings are an op­tional ex­tra that you surely can’t refuse (you didn’t drive here, did you?).

Head chef Ben Fen­wick is an Ade­laide boy who started cook­ing at 16, trained lo­cally then worked in Las Ve­gas with Alain Du­casse be­fore re­turn­ing to Ade­laide – lured back, Nugent says, by the qual­ity of the pro­duce.

Fen­wick has mostly free rein, Nugent says: “I set the di­rec­tion but Ben very much sets the menu and I leave him to his own de­vices. Ev­ery­thing re­volves around qual­ity, fresh and grown by us as much as pos­si­ble and lo­cal sup­pli­ers oth­er­wise. I dine in the restau­rant all the time and pro­vide com­ments where I see fit.”

When you lunch at The Gallery, tak­ing your time is manda­tory. In case they are tempted to rush things, guests are cau­tioned in advance to al­low three hours for the Joy Flight and two hours for the Sig­na­ture Flight.

“Ideally guests ar­rive a bit early,” Nugent says. “We take them through a wine tast­ing, they can wan­der the grounds, sit down for lunch, look at the art and en­joy the am­biance. They’re kings and queens for the day and our role is to give peo­ple a lux­ury out­ing that gives them some respite from the bus­tle of daily lives, where they can en­gage with friends and ex­pe­ri­ence artis­tic and de­sign mo­ments that en­hance their well­be­ing.

“With­out be­ing too flow­ery: we like peo­ple eat­ing, drink­ing, laugh­ing and hav­ing a day out.”


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