After way too many pub meals in regional towns, my expectations are set at what might be deemed "realistic". Thus, the Willow Room, the restaurant that fronts the Emeu Inn, was more than a delightful surprise.
WIllow Room is independently operated by couple chef Brent and front of house Jody. The decor is typically local regional; clean and tidy but "of another era". This is certainly not a detraction, but more adds to the surprise of the quality of the cuisine and well-crafted wine list which I estimate to be at least 90% locally sourced. Heathcote and its surrounds is granite country so plenty of great big reds. You are spoilt for choice and even dining for one, the by-the-glass choices were great.
The menu was compact but extremely well structured particularly in the way the entrees and main courses complemented each other well. I had appetisers of local warm baby olives and caper berries with a smashing American IPA.
Skewered grilled chicken livers were cooked to perfection and the dorper lamb medley was spot on. I would say possibly the tastiest lamb I've ever had. But, why wouldn't it? It comes with a story in that they were reared on Jody's parent's farm up the road and hand selected. You don't get much closer local cuisine.
I knocked back the dessert (at first...) as I had to attend another function. However, on return, I was delighted to find the kitchen still open, had a great chat with Brent and, of course, could not resist the call of the delightfully delicate Pannacotta with local fruits. De-lish.
Of the diners that evening, I reckon there were more locals than Inn guests that you'd have to say is a good sign.
This was a big metro quality meal without the big metro price tag. I certainly felt that this was great value for money.
This rates five finger licks!
Well done, guys. Hope to be back soon.
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