d'Arry's Verandah Restaurant [McLaren Vale, South Australia]

We caught up with a friend over the Summer Seasonal Degustation menu for lunch at d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant, which is part of the d’Arenberg Winery complex in McLaren Vale in South Australia. We had booked this 3 months in advance as we knew late December would be a busy time.

The meal was wonderful. I tried to take photos of each course but forgot a few! I’ll try and recap to the best of my ability below. The menu comes with a couple of optional extras (STURIA OSCIETRA CAVIAR OPTION 3gm spoon with potato crisps, sour cream and fresh chives for $30 just after the canapés and CHEESE OPTION Tete de Moine with oat cake rounds and candied wild figs for $18 before dessert). You also had to choose between two options for the main (called an entrée in Australia, which I find confusing) and dessert. Wine pairing was $80 per head and taken up by two diners at our table.

d’Arry’s bread with truffle butter and Almond-stuffed, crumbed and fried green Willunga olives with lemon verbena aioli

The wine pairing for this was NV POLLYANNA POLLY Chardonnay Pinot Noir Pinot Meunier (I’m a complete numpty when it comes to understanding wine, but I think this was a sparkling white wine, and a more generous pour than the subsequent pairings). French champagne (100ml) for a $20 supplement was the pairing for the caviar option - nobody in our group partook of these options.

I forgot to take a photo of the above, but the bread was slightly warm, a airy white farmhouse loaf type bread. The butter was served at room temperature with finely grated parmesan. It was delicious and gone within seconds. The olives were served hot and that meant we had to take our time with them - moreish salt bombs that went well with the sparkling wine (declaration of interest: my husband was one of the diners who went for the wine pairing, so I took the liberty of sampling all his wine).

AMUSE BOUCHE Salmorejo with picked garlic, basil and roast cherry tomato pintxos

Forgot to take photo of this one as well. A sort of gazpacho served in a tiny crystal glass with a stem, the sort of glass people drink sherry from, with a small skewer of cherry tomato and picked garlic balanced across the rim. The soup was chilled. I could take this or leave this. Was OK.

Vitello tonnato and seared tuna with shaved parmesan, caperberries rocket and lemon salad

I didn’t have this. I’m a small person and struggle with tasting menus, and this was the course which appealed least to me, so I donated it to my teenage son, who thought this course was amazing.

The wine pairings with the tuna were:
2018 THE MONEY SPIDER (Roussanne)
2022 THE HERMIT CRAB (Viognier Marsanne)


I’m just going to break my report down into chunks rather than have it all in one post. So on to the entrées, or mains as I would call them. The choices were between:

Chilled chargrilled S.A. octopus and loukaniko with black taramasalata, tzatziki, orange, fennel Halkidiki olive and oregano salad

Wine pairings:
2022 STEPHANIE THE GNOME (Cinsault Sangiovese Sagrantino)
2021 THE FERAL FOX (Pinot Noir)

d’Arry’s Signature Dish – entrée size Lobster medallion with Shark Bay blue swimmer crab, prawn ravioli and lobster bisque

Wine pairings (both Chardonnays)

I had the lobster option (so did my husband). It was wonderful and the wines went well with it. The bisque was super rich and flavourful. I think the crab must have been in the ravioli. This was a dish I could eat again and again. Just full of the flavours of the sea.


Next, a break for a palate cleanser. I need to mention here that our server was very friendly and professional. She explained all the wine pairings very nicely. For this course she brought a little bottle of San Pellegrino lemonade out as a substitute for the splash of alcohol. She recommended we swirl the alcohol around and leave it for a minute and then proceed to eat it.

White grape , pineapple and lime leaf sorbet with a splash of The Broken Fishplate Sauvignon Blanc (or San Pellegrino lemonade!)

This was so refreshing and tasty. Swirling the alcohol around for a minute actually made mine into a exquisite Sauvignon Blanc slushie!


S.A. Paroo kangaroo tail and water chestnut steamed bun with seared saddle garlic, Asian olive greens and Davidson’s plum jam

Wine pairings:

2018 THE CONSCIOUS BIOSPHERE (Petit Sirah Aglianico)
2019 THE STICKS & STONES (Tempranillo Grenache Blend)

I completely forgot to take photos of this course. But it looked beautiful. The kangaroo tail pieces were perfectly cooked with a sear on the outside and pink in the middle. I hadn’t read the menu description properly and thought the bun was a dollop of mashed potato at first! The dish came with what I thought was a jus but must have been melted plum jam. It came with a bowl of salad for the table, mixed lettuce leaves (baby gem, frisee and a red variety) with pickled pink onions. We loved this course. My son was fascinated with the texture of the kangaroo tail meat.

I’m not a big fan of red wines, so can’t comment on the pairings here.


Tete de Moine with oat cake rounds and candied wild figs

I went for this option as this cheese is rarely seen outside Switzerland. To my delight, it came properly shaved in its characteristic frills. I was so excited I forgot to take a photo. Just took one of the plate after I’d polished off the cheese. I loved the marble serving platter and mother-of-pearl handled knife.

Fresh mango and mint with ginger coconut cream and coconut lace biscuit

This was described as a ‘pre-dessert’. None of us knew what a lanyap was and after a Google search I’m still not sure if it describes a pre dessert or a little pudding of the above ingredients. Nevertheless it was tasty. The cream was very gingery. Again, forgot to take a photo. Must have been all the sips of wine!


Passionfruit soufflé with passionfruit sorbet and pouring cream


Soft centred chocolate pudding with Dead Arm curd chocolate ice cream and d’Arry’s aero

(NB. ‘Dead Arm’ is a Shiraz made by the d’Arenberg Winery)

Wine pairings:
2023 THE NOBLE MUD PIE (Viognier) - for the passionfruit dessert

2018 THE VINTAGE FORTIFIED (Shiraz) - for the chocolate dessert

We all chose the passionfruit dessert, which tasted as great as it looked. And we all loved it so much we pretty much agreed it was our favourite course. We were scraping the ramekin trying to get the last bits of soufflé out. The dessert wine was served chilled and was lighter than what I expect from a dessert wine.

Mini-Madeleines and blondie bites, with freeze-dried raspberries

Madeleines were yummy. I didn’t try the blondie bites - they seemed a bit dense. We were offered tea or coffee but declined.

Price per head for the degustation was $125. With 2 wine pairings and the supplements for the lobster courses and cheese and 4 bottles of sparkling water, the bill came to just over $800 dollars before tax and tip for 4 diners. Included in the price is free entry to the d’Arenberg ‘Cube’ attraction including the Dali exhibition and a wine tasting.


I just wanted to mention the wine tasting which was included in the price of the degustation menu. For this, we had to go to the d’Arenberg Cube, which is a modern glass building within the winery, a few steps from d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant. The Cube has its own restaurant called Singapore Circus. The wine tastings happen on the top floor of the Cube. Before lunch the place was heaving with queues out the door, so we thought we’d go after lunch. After lunch was very busy as well, but no queues. The top floor was packed. We had less than an hour until the place closed (at 4:30pm). We had the misfortune of being delivered into the hands of one of the grumpiest service professionals I have ever come across. My son immediately picked up on her negative vibe and he was just a kid on the sidelines not even participating. She clearly was either having a very bad day or just didn’t enjoy her job at all. She banged down glasses, gave cursory explanations with minimal eye contact. My husband asked her a question about the process of making low alcohol wine and her reply was “No idea”. My husband is a lawyer and tends to not let go of something once he wants to know, so he politely asked was it not part of her job to know about such matters and surely someone has asked her questions on this subject before. She turn became quite rude and told him “I’ve been doing this a long time, sunshine, and nobody has ever asked me this.” We were left speechless that she referred to a customer as ‘sunshine’! Then she flounced off and eventually another professional came along and answered the question. After this things went steadily downhill. The grumpy lady returned and missed one red wine out of the sequence. When we pointed this out she made surly remarks and brought out the missed wine. This was either a major error or her idea of taking revenge on us (the reds were supposed to come in a sequence of mild bodied, medium bodied and full bodied with sequentially incrementing lengths of aging). In the end, the whole experience was so strange because of her outrageous rudeness that it was comical to us. We now refer to this as the d’Arenberg War of 2023!


It’s a travesty that she’s allowed to get away with being this rude to you! I’d have made a complaint to the management - they deserve to know what kind of service staff they have on their payroll.


We have had an email from the winery asking for feedback - we will mention something in our reply. I guess anyone can have a bad day, but it leaves a bad taste when we’ve paid over $800 for the experience. It was such a stark contrast to the relaxed and friendly server in the restaurant.