Hickinbotham of Dromana
194 Nepean Highway Dromana
(Visited September ’17)
We had still NOT been to a winery. In the 11 months following our Sea Change, we hadn’t as much as suggested it, researched it, let alone GONE to one.
Then, Father’s Day was approaching. And this coincided with an online post I had read, that mentioned kid-friendly wineries on the Peninsula.
What?! Our time had come.
And so it was. Hickinbotham was the first one I called off of the kid-friendly list, and they were more than happy to have us for their 11am set lunch on Father’s Day. Hubbie didn’t know where we were going, and even though it wasn’t the nicest of Dad’s days, as we arrived amidst the cold, wind and occasional rain…
… He still smiled at the surroundings. He was really pleased.
I had done well (go me 🙂 )
We were in fact, the first ones to arrive that Sunday. We were seated immediately, and had a good look around the restaurant, taking it all in.
Though restaurant wasn’t quite the word. Sure, the tables were set up nicely, paper table-clothed and all. There was a long bar in the middle of the room, and behind that what appeared to be a tasting area, a large shed/warehouse-type room, with barrels evident from where we sat.
Wooden tones were everywhere. But this wasn’t a renovated, wooden-accented place. No, this wood had been there for years.
And years and years.
Because that’s what this place was, authentic. You could tell that you had stepped back in time, not too far, but far enough to understand that a winery had been there in place for a long time, way before people started coming in to dine. It was old, vintage, and polished.
There were two other seating areas I could see… one immediately to the front of us, that was completely covered, and another off to the side, which too was sheltered, yet opened up into the greenery outside.
Shotgun outdoor area on a sunny day. Just putting it out there.
Since it was 11am, and a tad before our usual eating time of 1pm, we decided to just opt for the 2 course menu, rather than do the 3 courses.
First up, some drinks please.
A glass of 2016 Pinot Gris for me; and a pint (ALL the men there were soon getting pints) of Hix Pilsener, Silver medal Royal Sydney Show 2014
Can I just say it was super exciting to be drinking beverages from the local wine/beer-makers there themselves. We were giddy, and although we had ordered our mains, the alcohol went to our heads and suddenly we were hungry!
Baby girl had received some crackers and dips as part of her kids package that day
And we all kind of dipped into that one (thanks Pinot Gris)
By this stage the place was filling up. There were Dads galore, and the waitresses were wishing everyone a Happy Father’s Day on arrival.
The fireplace had been lit, and was getting stoked, but the fire just wasn’t taking, so the group of people seated beside us took it upon themselves to re-stoke it.
It was a beautiful old fireplace, and the warmth that emanated from it was very much required that day.
Soon, the food!
I had ordered the succulent baked chicken breast, kipflers with bacon and thyme, garden greens, chicken jus
Hubbie had ordered the 250gm grass fed scotch fillet, dauphine fat chips, baby sprouts with Portobello, béarnaise
And Baby girl had the pleasure of her all-time fave dish… pasta
Spiral pasta with bolognaise sauce
(Oh woe is me. Back to the time where baby girl actually had sauce with her pasta).
Baby girl happily lapped up her pasta while she watched other children playing with toys on youtube. Of course.
Hubbie was pleased with his steak and how it was cooked, but questioned whether it was in fact, 250gm… otherwise he enjoyed it, yet he left behind a fat chip for me to enjoy… oh my. It was thick and creamy, and all I can say is dauphine chips are the BOMB. They were that GOOD.
Crisp potato puff… mmmmm.
And I loved my meal. It was comforting and warm, the chicken was most certainly succulent, and the jus? Amazing. I dragged my vegies and chicken ALL through the jus, trying my best to soak up every last drop. Yum.
We were very content, but what is a special occasion without dessert? We had spent a good deal of the past month hibernating, accepting and allowing the cold to pass, and also hoping that once that most-coldest of cold seasons was over, baby girl would also be more mature, and happily sit with us as we dined out throughout the Peninsula, ALL through Spring and Summer.
She is well-acquainted with the phone though, so…. say what you like. We were ALL happy then.
We ordered coffees too, and then it all started to arrive:
I had a cap, while Hubbie had a STRONG, heart-shaped latte:
Baby girl had a babycino accompany her kids dessert, which consisted of vanilla ice cream, chocolate cake, marshmallows and snakes
Hubbie ordered the Passionfruit tart, burnt meringue, coulis, clotted cream
And I had Jo’s stunning chocolate mousse cake, pistachio crunch, two types of raspberry
Firstly, can I say, when I hear the words ‘chocolate mousse’ my head almost swivels Exorcist-style. True story. I enjoyed the light, yet decadent mousse component, and the base was most definitely crunchy… not sure if the combination worked completely, I understood the textures being in contrast to one another… but sometimes you just need some cream alongside your chocolate-whatever. I appreciated it nonetheless. I had to bypass my 3 raspberries sitting a-pretty on top, ever since that fateful day when I ate a whole punnet of raspberries one night, and then felt a bit awkward and uncomfortable, went to the loo, and promptly threw up the whole thing. I then proceeded to feeling better instantly, and the incident was so bizarre I actually question whether it in fact happened or I just dreamt it all…
But I think, I have developed some kind of aversion to raspberries, or whatever thing it is inside them that irritates my stomach. I would have risked the 3 if we hadn’t had any other plans that day… but we did have plans, and I wasn’t going to ignore history/a bad dream and risk running to the bathroom.
Hubbie thought his passionfruit tart was ok… I think he is not a tart-y, or burnt meringue kinda guy, just saying. He is also an incredibly fussy guy. Just saying.
Baby girl enjoyed mixing every component of her dessert together until it developed into a gooey creamy mess, but funnily enough did not like the marshmallows then (she LOVES marshmallows) and until I tried one, I realised why – they were incredibly cold, either from the ice cream proximity, or what I believe, sitting in a fridge for a while? I otherwise thought it the perfect dessert for a child, just a colourful combination of bright and simple sweet things that children love.
We were now very full, with the added assistance of our caffeine hits, and decided it was time to pay.
Outside the rain had ceased, and now the sun glared down from in-between the clouds. Hubbie and baby girl ran around the yard, mucking about… and then it was time to go.
Food: 8/10. I loved my chicken, and other components were amazing too. I would love to go there when there is not a set menu, to see how they go preparing and cooking food ‘on the fly.’
Coffee: 7.5/10. It was pleasant, not too strong, and smooth.
Ambience: Incredibly cosy. Honestly, I felt a bit like I was at my uncle’s old house down Warburton way. The abundant wood and fireplace gave it a real homely feel, and seeing the greenery and trees throughout the windows linked us to the outside, making it feel quite idyllic, and very appropriate, for a winery.
People: Being such a family day, there were families of all kinds EVERYWHERE. Young families, old families, families with extended family, smaller intimate families, and many kids too, which was further testament to the review I had read online.
Staff: They were incredibly attentive, polite and friendly, really fine service.
Price: $161. This consisted of mine and Hubbie’s 2 course set menus – both at $60 a head. Baby girl’s set 3 course meal was $29.50. Throw in some home-grown alcoholic drinks, coffees, and voila. Price is justified. Or is it? I think baby girl’s set price was on the upside… and if you break down each of our main and dessert meals to $30 each, I think it is STILL too high. But it is a winery, and so, you reach out into your handbag and pull out the dough (or in my case, the Eftpos card).
Advice: Maybe on weekends it would be best to call ahead in case they are busy, however there was an ample amount of seating in many areas, and they were all covered, so risking it shouldn’t do too much damage either.
In a nutshell: Although it was pricey, and Hubbie didn’t rave about his main meal, he absolutely loved the winery, and the beer. I too love the entire place. Being not too far from our house, with Spring on our doorstep (any day now Melbourne weather), we will definitely come back again. We’ve already planned to sit somewhere outside, in the afternoon sunshine, sipping on some lovely local produce and gazing at the views and water up ahead, while baby girl just RUNS with glee.
So just pick up your glass and…