Whilst food is a must when any wine tours or alcohol is concerned, what really is the best approach in terms of the substantial meal when enjoying a wine tour?
Arguably fine dining in the Hunter Valley is offering lunch and dinner options that without question, are standing out above the usual competitive cohorts in the Sydney CBD at the moment. And, the added bonus – the price point!
But what makes a fine dining experience the ultimate experience and the one you would recommend. Having worked in the professional services industry for a considerable period of time, long lunches and fine dining was the norm both in Sydney and on frequent interstate trips – Covid has changed the mindset and approach of a number of professionals and venues in Sydney appear to be struggling as a result. The solution to that quandary is a whole other post!
I am the first to admit I consider myself a layman, and not a critique in the least. That said, whether experiencing fine dining in the Hunter Valley or the Sydney CBD, there are a number of non-negotiables for me in terms of recommendations and a second visit to a particular restaurant. The top 5 non-negotiables for me are, and in no particular order but of equal importance:
Service – luxury from a service perspective starts with feeling as though someone can read what you are thinking and attend to those needs without any thought! There’s nothing better than every aspect of your lunch or dinner happening seamlessly! That is the ultimate definition to me of service!
Cleanliness – pet hate! A table that has crumbs on it – glasses with marks on them. It is not hard for any establishment or business to get this right – and in the current environment is a must!
Variety to suit all palettes – whether you are dining at an Italian, French, Asian or Australian styled dining venue, there should be something on the menu for all. The most successful venues will cater to this.
Presentation – I haven’t researched this, but common sense tells me if it looks good, and smells good – the mind surely is already 80 percent there in terms of how enjoyable that flavour experience is going to be. Quality presentation – whether food or otherwise – is a must!
Knowledge – if I am paying a premium price for dining (whether reflective of the Hunter Valley or the Sydney CBD) – I expect if I am asking about a dish – or even better if the information is offered up – that my wait staff know their stuff! If I’m paying $30 … well, I would be very impressed, but really wouldn’t expect this at all. After all – the saying – you get what you pay for must be practically applied!
Let’s turn our attention now to the more moderate dining options – of which there are plenty in the Hunter. Whether you’re after a pub style meal or a reasonable Italian, the top 5 non-negotiables for me are similar to my fine dining expectations – being:
Service – as above! Good training of staff should not have an associated price tag on food (to a degree of course!)
Cleanliness – as above! No excuses here – no matter the price tag in my view.
Quality – this should be reflective of the style and price tag. That said – just because it’s a $30 meal – doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious and fulfilling!
Value for money – key ingredients are presentation, taste, price point. All play a part and it is not unreasonable to expect this!
Comfort – this is personal and can be hard to measure. It doesn’t only form from a physical perspective. Ambience, atmosphere and layout all play a part! If it is obvious you have been jammed into an already packed out venue – I think its time to rethink booking this venue a second time round. Seasonal comfort should also be considered whether it’s a hearty meal in the winter or a lighter meal with quality ingredients at a reasonable price!
So what is the bottom line?
Whether you’re on a day tour where you want the ultimate experiences and want to take your time to enjoy culinary delights or you’re happy to experience tastings plus a pub style lunch – the not negotiables are service – cleanliness and quality!
If you are touring in the Hunter, ensure you ask what you can expect with whatever dollar value you have represented will suit your group on the day and ensure your tour operator is reputable and experienced!
We are and would love to bring an amazing experience to you at any time!
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