If you’ve read my post on the amazing weekend stay I had at Spicers Peak Lodge back in August, you’ll know that I’ve developed a genuine love affair with everything Spicers Retreats do – their exquisite food, stunning locations and service is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. So when B and I were invited by Spicers to attend the launch of Homage Restaurant at Spicers Hidden Vale, you can imagine the excited that ensued.
After some debate about what to wear (thank you to Gabby who recommended flats!) we got ready and boarded the chauffeured bus to Hidden Vale on Saturday afternoon, arriving in beautiful Grandchester around 50 minutes later. Here we were greeted by Hidden Vale’s lovely GM Andrea and her husband Ash Martin, Homage’s Head Chef.
Ash and Andrea have been working at Hidden Vale for around 18 months after a successful stint at Spicers Peak Lodge, and in this time they’ve had a huge impact on the way the property and restaurant are run. Following a ‘Paddock to Plate’ philosophy, the couple and their team have established a fully operational, organic market garden spanning over 80 garden beds that is as gorgeous as the produce it provides for the regularly changing menu at Homage.
They’re also nursing a small number of animals, tending to an orchard of citrus and avocado trees, harvesting their own honey and on top of that they’ve forged strong relationships with local farmers in the Lockyer Valley. All of this to ensure that guests are enjoying top quality, locally-sourced, and sustainable ingredients. In his own words, Ash and his team are “really trying to incorporate the whole produce story at Homage, from the farm to the fork, because the people behind the produce is a huge part of what makes Homage such a unique culinary destination”.
Homage is so much more than ‘just a restaurant’ – its location at Hidden Vale makes it a truly enchanting dining experience and the Hidden Vale property is an integral part of this. A classic Queensland homestead, Hidden Vale feels relaxed, comforting and good for the soul. I felt instantly at ease there and as we enjoyed a Sutton Farm cider and some freshly picked radishes with creme fraiche in the market garden, we all remarked at just how peaceful the property was.
And seriously, can we all just take the moment to appreciate these views?
If you’re a foodie, staying at Hidden Vale to sample Homage is a perfect weekend escape. We sampled a five course tasting menu with matched wines and it was superb. Ash’s food style is an artful balance between highlighting each unique ingredient, seamlessly integrating local produce and sophisticated cooking techniques which draw on the flavours of modern French cuisine. The result is impeccably attractive dishes that taste fantastic.
We started with a unusual but tasty Beetroot macaron that was served with fromage blanc, Thorton Manchego gougere and paired with a delightful Italian Prosecco. This was promptly followed by a Beetroot Kingfish ceviche, charred octopus, cucumber and garden radish and then Flagstone Creek murray cod, Tarome freshwater crayfish. The crayfish was utterly TO DIE FOR and was paired with Chardonnay. Now I’ll be honest, I have long believed that ‘noone makes friends with Chardonnay’ but after a bit of convincing from Spicers Sommelier Peter Marchant, the Dalwhinne The Hut Chardonnay from Victoria won me over. It was a great match for the crayfish and has most definitely changed my opinion.
My favourite dish of the evening was the Assiette of Banyard quail, pumpkin and heirloom carrot. It was soooooo delicious. I could have eaten ten of these! (why must quails be so small?) It was also the first dish that was paired with red wine and that was a real crowd pleaser (we’re both red wine drinkers). Unfortunately, this is the one dish I simply could not get a good photo of so you’ll just have to go and try it for yourself!
Our last savoury dish before the wildly-anticipated dessert was Spicers station yearling with panzella. This wasn’t really my kind of dish but I think that has more to do with the fact that I was mourning the end of my quail than anything else…it just couldn’t get better than that for me – but B on the other hand very much enjoyed it.
Our evening was capped off with a gorgeous foraged wild lemon ‘tart’, curd, mascarpone dessert. I had a GF option for my meals so I didn’t try the ‘tart’ but that wild lemon curd? Wow. It was better than my grandma used to make and THAT is saying something. Tart but sweet, a lovely consistency – it was the perfect end to a lovely menu and our table companions loved it too.
Both B and I loved our evening at Homage and can’t wait to go back to enjoy further delights from Ash and his team – perhaps next time we’ll try one of their picnic baskets by the pool along with a massage at the Spa Anise. Hidden Vale has a range of accommodation options available so it’s a great getaway for everyone – couples, groups of friends or families, and they also have lots of activities including walking and mountain-bike trails, horse-riding, 4WD tours and even archery so you can work off that fine food and keep that lovely figure of yours in check.
Homage is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner (lunch Monday and Tuesdays are for in house guests only). For bookings you can phone: 1300 179 340.