When things get busy

IT was Father’s Day. My father’s in Canada, so I lunched with friends, raising a glass to him at Flint in the Vines, a pretty spot in Murrumbateman.

Special occasions can be tough on hospitality. We knew it would be hectic and so chose the last sitting knowing it would be a bit calmer.

Flint in the Vines calls itself the “sister restaurant” to the original Flint Dining Room at Acton, which sadly burnt down.

The Murrumbateman restaurant is on an historic property at Shaw Vineyard Estate and has a cosy fireplace, lots of books to read, lawn areas for kids to play on and, at this time of year, little lambs to say hello to.

Inside, before you enter the restaurant, you wander through the selection of artistic ceramic specialty items sourced from Italy. A small but yummy selection of gourmet Australian food items is also for sale.

The Father’s Day three-course lunch ($65 each without wine) had an optional dish to start – thyme, rosemary and garlic-infused, French farmhouse, soft-ripened cheese baked in the wood-fire oven ($22). If the description does it for you, so too would the dish.

My roasted pumpkin and goat’s cheese rotolo was the choice of the day. Subtle but seductive. Much richer was the rabbit rillettes with drunken prunes and, get this, horseradish ice cream.

Things slid a bit from there. The confit ocean trout with red capsicum bouillabaisse and blue swimmer crab sounded decadent, but didn’t pass the grade. The complex taste of the bouillabaisse was intriguing, but the crab meat was mushy, a bit watery and seemed overcooked.

We all took a nanosecond to order the Wagyu beef bourguignon braised in Shaw Vineyard Estate Shiraz. However, the meat was dry and a sawdust texture. On reflection, we wondered why one would braise such fabulous meat – perhaps Father’s Day dictated the need to prepare in advance. I am a big mash fan (more elegant to say pomme puree), which was golden (loads of butter) and I ate every bit (leaving my meat behind).

Some of us ended with the brioche bread-and-butter pudding, agreeing the gingerbread ice cream was the tastiest element. Some opted for the pear almond and leatherwood honey tart. Leatherwood honey can be strong, we realised, but we agreed there was too much in the tart for us humans. Pooh Bear would have been happy though.

Flint in the Vines has a changing calendar of events, including evenings with live music and wood fired pizza and, of course, fine local wines.

As I say, special occasions can be challenging for hospitality. We understand and so will be back for another go.

Flint in the Vines, breakfast Sunday, lunch Thursday to Sunday, dinner Thursday to Saturday. 34 Isabel Drive, Murrumbateman, call 6227 5144.

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