Thanks to a prawn and pineapple Thai inspired curry that I cooked last year I was lucky enough to win the Southbank Regional Flavours recipe competition sponsored by Spicers Peak Lodge. The prize worth $1490 included a nights accommodation at this beautiful lodge including 3 course lunch, 7 course dinner, breakfast, all drinks and massages. I’ve never won anything so indulgent, so to say I was excited was an understatement!
Easter Friday morning, Al and I took the scenic drive up through Cunninghams Gap to reach the peak by lunchtime. Once you take the turn off the highway, it’s a combination of sealed and dirt road that winds its way through some gorgeous scenery. Heralded by a stone entrance, you turn the corner and are greeted with the most majestic green fields with the the lodge nestled invitingly at the end of the long driveway.
Greeted warmly by the manager, we were immediately offered champagne and shown to our accommodation. It was chilly but within minutes our fire was roaring and we had settled into our surprisingly spacious room. The detail and care is what makes Spicers Peak Lodge special. Everything is carefully considered, from the jazz music playing when you enter your room, to the gorgeous array of coffee table books, to the chocolates and the boutique water bottles beside the bed. You really feel like you are in for a treat.
After settling into our room we headed down the corridor to the Peak restaurant for lunch. On the menu;
- House made sourdough
- Tempura soft shelled crab, petit cress and nam jim served with a 2011 Watervale Riesling
- Chargrilled porterhouse, enoki mushrooms, kiplers and bernaise or whiting fillets, fennel and citrus with fondant potato and white onion
- Chocolate bavarois and salted caramel ice cream served with 2012 Wrattonbully Botrytis Viogner
I’m not usually a fan of soft shelled crab but this was amazing. We both loved everything about this dish. It was pretty to look at, light and full of punchy flavours. For mains, Al chose the porterhouse served with 2009 Coonawarra Merlot and I the the whiting served with a 2010 William Fevre Chablis. No complaints here. Tender steak and delicate whiting. Perfectly sized servings for lunch.
I was very excited for dessert and immediately tucked into the salted caramel ice cream. Smooth with a great balance of flavour. My next spoonful stopped me in my tracks. The bavarois was banana flavour. That can’t be right. I tried it again and by this time Al was grinning ear to ear, knowing my intense dislike of anything banana flavoured. I was distraught but immediately realised someone had made a typo. Al loved it and finished everything on his plate. A diner at another table informed our lovely waiter so by the time he arrived to take away our plates he was aware of the menu mishap and apologised, admitting his mistake while typing up the menu. I was offered another dessert but declined. It really wasn’t a problem, everyone makes mistakes, just ironic that it was my least favourite flavour ever!
Our afternoon massages at the Anise day spa were relaxing and left us plenty of time to enjoy our room and a nap before heading to the lounge room at 6.30pm for drinks and pre-dinner nibbles. The open lounge with comfy sofas, open fire, coffee table books and a baby grand piano is a lovely place to relax and meet other guests if you are up for a chat.
Dilon, our lovely waiter for our stay, showed us to the dining room at 7pm for our choice of tables. The atmosphere in the dining room in the evening is cosy, with low lighting, open fire and soft music. Even though the lodge was full on this weekend, it didn’t feel crowded and the service still felt very personalised.
Our dinner menu:
- Cured salmon, quinoa toast, melon and cucumber served with 2010 Alsace Gentil Hugel
- Red claw yabby, boudin noir, citrus and yoghut served with 2009 Maclaren Vale Chardonnay
- Yellowfin tuna, acidulated sesame (think popping candy with sesame seeds), miso and ginger served with 2009 Symphony Hill Wild Child Viogner
- Confit Warwick pork belly, croquet, remoulade and vierge served with 2011 Tamar Valley pinot noir
- Darling Downs beef, local beetroot, heirloom radish, mushroom served with 2011 Barossa Gnarly Dudes Shiraz
- Watermelon and whiskey palate cleanser
- Olive oil gateau, orange blossom, rasberry and apple served with 2008 French Saulterne
The whole menu flowed beautifully with plenty of time in between each course to appreciate the experience. The dishes of the night for me included the tuna and the dessert. Both had flavours I love. Al was a huge fan of the yabby dish but really it was very hard to pick the dish of the night. The watermelon and whiskey was so unusual. Watermelon soup with compressed watermelon and a whiskey and vanilla lens which hopefully you can see in the photograph. It just worked beautifully in preparation for the dessert which was fruity and zingy and left me wanting more! I loved this dessert so much, that I asked to speak with the pastry chef who was kind enough to come out to our table and share some of her secrets (the apple lychee balls). I’ll be trying this in my kitchen very soon.
The following morning I actually felt food drunk and wasn’t sure I could face breakfast but I gave it my best shot opting for a house-made crumpet with whipped butter and honeycombe. Such a simple dish but so good. It was just plain yummy and despite my full tummy from the night before I wanted another one but I refrained and choose a lovely fruit platter instead. Al did us both proud choosing the sausage, bacon, house-made potato rosti, eggs, spinach, roasted tomato and mushroom feast. I was so taken with the scenery I actually forgot to photograph Al’s breakfast and the fruit platter.
Our breakfast view was amazing. The air was crisp and clean. Watching the clouds roll in over the mountains was such a special and relaxing way to start the day.
If you love food and want to treat yourself or your partner to an indulgent night or weekend away, Spicers Peak is perfect. The staff are warm and welcoming and the surroundings, inside and out, are luxury. Even the drive up to the peak is a fun adventure.
Thank you so much Spicers Peak Lodge, the staff and chefs and Southbank Corporation for allowing us this special experience. It’s definitely one we’ll remember for years to come.