Edit (1 May 2016): Sadly, The Coterie has closed it doors. But never fear, the Coal River Vineyard is continuing to operate with its Cellar Door Restaurant. Their menu looks awesome and we hope to visit soon!
Hand me my nose ring!!
When was the last time you used the word ‘coterie’ in a sentence? Not lately I’m guessing!!
Some may think it’s a little bit odd, but whenever I hear the word ‘coterie’ I’m taken back to 1995 and Ben Folds Five’s indie hit ‘Underground‘.
I was never cool in school
I’m sure you don’t remember me
And now it’s been 10 years
I’m still wondering who to be
But I’d love to mix in circles, cliques, and social coteries, that’s me
Hand me my nose ring (Can we be happy?)
Show me the mosh pit (Can we be happy?)
We can be happy underground
First of all, it has quite literally been almost 10 years since we last had lunch there. I’m not sure why they shut down shortly after (I swear I was on my best behaviour!), but it has meant that one of the Coal River Valley’s most beautiful locations has gone to waste ever since! The Coal Valley Vineyard has kept producing grapes, and some fantastic wines, but I’m guessing the restaurant facilities have simply gone unused while the owners have focused on core business.
Secondly, and more importantly, just at the moment The Coterie strikes me as the geeky, Triple J listening, endearingly awkward younger sister of Frogmore Creek, located only 5 minutes up the river.
Where Frogmore is self assured, confident in its maturity and clear in its future, The Coterie is bursting with potential, but hasn’t quite grown into its pair of rapidly growing size 8 feet! Some may see this as a flaw, but for me it was refreshingly honest and added an air of uncertain expectancy to our meal. Just like that angsty teenager, unsure of its place in the world, where is The Coterie going to be in 12 months time? 5 years even?
The second incarnation of this restaurant is only a few weeks old and the focus was initially on lunches, cellar door and wine tasting flights only, but they’ve now got themselves into a position whereby opening hours have been extended out to 9pm on Thursday through to Sunday, and dinners are being offered.
Knowing it was still early days we weren’t sure whether it would only be a ploughman’s platter on on the lunch menu, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that a smoked duck salad had also been listed, together with the Caribbean jerk pork from their dinner menu.
I would have been happy with the ploughman’s platter, but it’s a little known fact that duck is a Clown’s kryptonite (just try taking a bucket of deep fried duck wings to Cirque du Soleil and watch the madness ensue!).
So it was one duck salad for me, and the jerk pork for Karen!
While our meals were being prepared we stepped past the large bowl of fresh bread dough firming on the sideboard and out onto the terrace. Selecting a table and sitting down with a couple of glasses of sparkling Coal Valley Pinot Noir Chardonnay, we proceeded to bask in the glorious first day of summer!
It didn’t take long and our meals had arrived.
How good do they look?!!
Orange partnered with duck is one of those classic combinations, yet it’s one I had surprisingly never tried before. It was an excellent match to the subtly smoked duck meat, enhancing the star of the dish without being overly tart.
The jerk pork was also quite a meal! The melange of flavours combined seamlessly, with the sourness of the lime cutting through the richness of the pork beautifully well. The pork itself was very tasty, with a welcome hint of spice, but possibly could have done with a little bit longer in the slow cooker. Only a nit-picky and very minor criticism to be honest.
Both dishes were very well proportioned. The pork was the more filling of the two but both were at that perfect size for a lunch, leaving you satisfied but comfortable that you weren’t going to struggle through the awesome dinner planned for later in the evening (The Astor Grill…review to come!).
Since we were at the vineyard, we couldn’t give up the opportunity to try some of their wines. The Coterie offer tasting flights whereby for a small cost you can select four wines off their wine list for tasting.
For us it was:
1. 2011 Coal Valley Riesling
2. 2012 Barilla Bay Sauvignon Blanc
3. 2011 Coal Valley Pinot Noir
4. 2010 Coal Valley Cabernet
All wines were better than average, with the Pinot Noir being an absolute stand out! This wine has won gold medals at both the 2012 and 2013 Royal Hobart Wine Shows and its easy to see why! To me it tasted like it was still 5 years away from perfection, but even now the unique structure and complexity in the wine is quite evident, albeit a little ‘green’. Forgetting the food, to any wine lovers out there I would recommend taking the 20 minute trip out to the Coal Valley Vineyard simply to try this wine it’s that good!
We were just starting to think about moving on when the chef approached us with freshly baked chocolate cookies. Would we like to try a couple?
Are you serious?!! Get in my gullet!!
These were two of the best cookies I have ever eaten! Obviously not everyone is going to get the ‘straight from the oven’ warmth and chocolatey gooey goodness, but even cold I imagine these would be pretty bloody good! I must commend the chef for her mental fortitude. If it was me, these bad boys wouldn’t even make it to the menu, with the Bermuda triangle making an impromptu appearance somewhere between the oven and the table…
While it’s still early days, I get the feeling that this is going to be an exciting summer for all involved in The Coterie! Offering meals cooked with genuine soul and substance, partnered with friendly service and a jaw-droppingly beautiful location, they are certainly on the right path towards establishing themselves as one of the Coal River Valley’s ‘must visit’ restaurants.
I have to say that their marketing may need some extra attention, because I suspect that many wouldn’t know that they’re back in business. But in saying that, word-of-mouth is the best form of advertisement and from these Two Clowns it’s a massive thumbs up!
Taste – 4/5
Menu – 3.5/5
Atmosphere – 5/5
Service – 4/5
Value – 4/5
Overall – 4/5