The Barossa is Australia’s most famous wine region, but it’s also an agricultural hub at heart. So it makes sense that its restaurants tend to be either rustic or extremely high-end. Three75, which opened late last year at luxury lodge The Louise, aims to change that.
Just outside the 80-seat bar and restaurant, a small cluster of ghost gums planted by Barossa legend Peter Lehmann sway gently in the breeze. Colourful parrots resting in the trees look hungrily at the fruit developing on the lush, green vines of Lehmann’s Stonewell vineyard. In the distance, the slopes of the Barossa Ranges glow golden in the light of the setting sun.
Until recently, this view was only available to a select few diners at Appellation, The Louise’s swanky onsite restaurant. It’s one of just five Australian members of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux group in the country (another, Hentley Farm, is just down the road).
Appellation is the kind of place you might see local winemakers celebrating an anniversary. Three75 is where they head on a regular Tuesday night. The bar and restaurant opened in December after a $1.4 million-dollar renovation which included outdoor seating and large windows that capitalise on the fabulous views. Extra lighting comes from copper light fittings that open up like pine cones above the 5.4 metre Caesarstone bar.
As well as looking beautiful, a key part of the brief was offering good value. With a $49 tasting menu, it’s fair to say they’ve succeeded.
Chef Kyle Johns draws on his birthplace of Cape Town, his Portuguese roots, plus his experience cooking in Sydney to create a menu of comfort food with a hefty dose of spice. The kitchen shares carefully-sourced local produce with Appellation, but instead of degustations, Johns dishes up food the way he personally likes to eat it: “max flavour, cutlery optional”. His Portuguese-style barbecued half chicken comes with a bottle of spicy peri-peri sauce and is pre-cut so to be eaten without a knife and fork.
Other options from the menu include biltong spiced with coriander and cumin seeds; and prawn toast okonomiyaki with soy, sesame and dancing flakes of bonito. Then there are the loaded burgers (beef, fried chicken, crispy garfish and chickpea and lentil) – large enough that the “double, double” option seems superfluous.
The drinks list by sommelier Geoffrey Hunt (ex-FermentAsian) is similarly approachable and showcases the Barossa without being parochial. Old and new Barossa names like Rockford and Ruggabellus sit side by side with selections from further afield on a list that’s compact and easy to navigate. And if you can’t find what you’re after, there’s always the option of perusing Appellation’s substantially larger selection.
“A lot of the local winemakers just want to try things they haven’t seen before,” he says, so there’s just a single Barossa shiraz by the glass alongside local riesling, cabernet and some other less familiar options. All wines by the glass are also available as 375-millilitre carafes (to honour the address: 375 Seppeltsfield Road), and classic cocktails can also be ordered as a half serve for drivers or those who want to try a few different things. They’re served in Hunt’s personal collection of 60 vintage miniature cocktail glasses. “I wasn’t using them,” he reasons, “because I make big cocktails at home.”
With seasonal sodas from the Appellation kitchen, plenty of fortifieds, sake and some unusual drops – like winemaker David Franz’s mixture of cider, semillon and frontignac – Hunt has something for every taste. House cocktails will change periodically, but there’s one drink that’s not on the menu: the single malt espresso with Bruichladdich’s Classic Laddie and Cointreau is Hunt’s way of saying, “I don’t want to make an espresso martini, but could I offer you something more interesting?”
375 Seppeltsfield Road, Marananga