Gourmet meals aren’t always associated with country travel in Australia, but South Australia shows how it’s done with Limestone Coast fine dining options.
Regular country travellers in Australia will know that getting a really good meal can sometimes be a bit of a hit or miss affair. The further out from the main regional centres one gets, the lower our expectations for excellent cuisine become. But this is certainly not the case in South Australia’s Limestone Coast region which boasts not one, but two exceptional fine dining restaurants.
A regular haunt for the local world-renowned winemaking community, Pipers of Penola has been satisfying gourmet appetites in the Coonawarra for 11 years. With husband and wife team Simon & Erika Bowen at the helm, Piper’s regularly scoops the awards pool, winning “Best Regional Restaurant” from the Restaurant and Catering Association in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, and making the Hall of Fame 2012, 2013.
They go out of their way to showcase local food producers and, naturally, they have a totally cracking wine list featuring many of the local heroes.
And if you’re wondering about the name – it involves an interesting snippet of local Penola history. The restaurant is located in a Methodist church that was built in 1908. It later became the Caledonian Hall which was used for bagpipe and highland dancing practice. In 2001 the building was renovated into a restaurant and called Pipers as a nod to this earlier use.
Located in the main street of Robe, a hugely popular Limestone Coast seaside holiday spot, Gather is so named because of chef and owner Tom Tilbury’s fondness for foraging and gathering local and wild ingredients.
The restaurant is housed in a charmingly renovated 1850’s wool store and a meal here is reason enough alone to visit Robe. Tom has put previous years of experience in top restaurants, including McLaren Vale’s D’arry’s Verandah Restaurant, to good use – his cuisine is truly memorable, the attention he pays to carefully sourced local ingredients is exquisite, he employs a wine consultant to pair the best possible wines with his food and also serves a custom-made bubbly.
I was treated to a very special intimate dining experience at Gather and came away completely blown away by both the food and Tom’s commitment to his craft. So much so, that The Bloke and I are currently in the process of planning another trip to the region. We’ll be sharing the local wine love some Victorian friends and introducing them to the pleasures of Limestone Coast fine dining.
Pipers of Penola – 58 Riddoch Street, Penola
P: 08 8737 3999
Gather – 38 Smillie Street, Robe
P: 08 8768 2734