- Lovely gluten free food
- Attentive, friendly staff
- Relaxed and comfortable environment
On a bright Sunday afternoon in April, the family and I headed out to Tallegandra Hill Winery to celebrate my sister in law’s birthday with a long, relaxing lunch in the sunshine at Bella’s Restaurant.
The winery is a quick 20-minute drive out of Gungahlin down Mulligan’s Flat Road but be warned – some of the roads are dirt! We took the Tallegandra Lane which was a lovely drive through some of Canberra’s pretty autumn countryside past sheep, cows and horses but it is also on dirt – fine in a 4-wheel drive, not so great in a Honda Jazz! On our return after lunch, we opted to drive down the Sutton Road and East Tallegandra Lane – all paved and it took maybe an extra 10 minutes to get home.
We had a table booked for six adults, a toddler and a baby for midday. Unfortunately, my brother in law was sick so we were down to 5 adults.
We drove up the long drive to the car park and headed inside. When we arrived, the place was empty but that didn’t last long! Inside, the space is large and comfortable. The walls are white, with wooden flooring and lots of odds and ends against the walls – shelves of wine, a juke box, lots of interesting pictures. The place feels relaxed and casual. Once the room filled up it got pretty loud, so we were happy to be sitting outside.
Outside, the seating area was covered with sunshades and there were young trees with their leaves turning into the lovely Canberra autumn reds and oranges. Behind the seating there was a playground which was great – it made it a good place for lunch with families, and Milly was constantly running between our table for food and fun times at the playground.
When the booking was made we notified the staff that I was coeliac and pregnant, and we pre-ordered the generous group menu. Online this contains 9 items plus soft drinks. Only 2 of these items are marked as gluten free but I had 7 items, which the chef had created for me. The generous group menu is $62 per person, for a minimum of 6 people and the food is bought out gradually, plate by plate. The timings are good and if you’re still hungry for the savoury items after they have all been brought out, you can request an extra plate of your favourites! Definitely no chance of going home hungry.
Once we’d been seated, the waitstaff bought out still and sparkling water, and I had a brief chat with them to confirm my dietary requirements. The waitstaff were really friendly and helpful, confirming they’d check with the kitchen for each dish.
Over the course of lunch, we also got to chat with the winery owners, David and Mary, and meet the marketing manager – Mac the golden retriever! David and Mary were lovely, happy to discuss the food, wine and plans for the winery.
Our first dish was marinated olives, and these came out for the whole group to share. The olives were very tasty, with some orange rind, herbs and garlic. This was followed by the Spanish jambon. The jambon came with strips of honeydew melon, toasted sunflower seeds and gluten free crackers for me, and flatbread for the others. Piled up on the cracker, the ham was salty, and well balanced with the sweet melon. The crunchy texture of the cracker was great with the softer jambon and melon.
While the gluten eaters had pork belly steamed bao buns, my third plate was a variation of this without the bun – gluten free pork belly with Asian slaw. This was really good! The pork belly was generously portioned and so crispy – it was so satisfying to eat! The Asian slaw contained coriander, cabbage and lime with a sweet dressing, it was crunchy and well balanced.
My next plate was chipotle duck tacos. Two soft tacos came out piled with filling. The duck chipotle had a little heat, which was cooled with a big dollop of sour cream. This was all on top of a pico de gallo salsa – a Mexican tomato salsa. The little cherry tomatoes provide little pops of sweetness, nicely balanced with the coriander and lime.
The next share item was the rocket and parmesan salad. I was prepared for this to be pretty boring but I was happily surprised – it was a really nice salad! The rocket was peppery and fresh, and the honeydew melon really complemented it. It was topped with heaps of grated parmesan adding a bit of bite that cut through the sweet pomegranate dressing. It was so simple but so good!
The final gluten free savoury dish was for sharing. The saganaki prawns were in a rich tomato sauce and topped with a creamy fetta and oregano. The prawns were beautifully cooked and the portion was a good size.
The savoury dishes were all really good and the staff were very on the ball with what I could and couldn’t have as they bought out a mix of gluten-y and gluten free plates. My only criticism is that the soft-shell crab salad is marked as gluten free on the menu, but wasn’t something I could have, presumably due to cross contamination.
Before our sweets were brought out, we were offered the opportunity to get an extra plate or two of the savoury dishes. I opted for a second portion of the pork belly with Asian slaw, and the gluten eaters went for the pork belly bao buns. While my pork belly came out quite quickly, the bao buns took a really long time – at least 30 mins. We were told that there was a mix up in the kitchen which is why the bao buns took so long, and no one was hungry by this point but it was a long wait, particularly as the two children were starting to get tired.
After the buns came out, we were offered tea and coffee, and our sweets came out. The gluten free salted caramel macarons came out first, and the gluten-y Churros and choux pastry balls came out afterwards. It’s been a long time since I last had a macaron and these were quite nice. The pastry was crispy but chewy, and the filling was a lovely balance of sweet and salty. With my Earl Grey tea, they rounded out what was a long and enjoyable lunch.
1692 Murrambatemn Road, Gundaroo NSW 2620
0401 579 650