In a continuously evolving region, The Bridgewater Mill maintains its reputation as one of the Adelaide Hills’ best fine-dining offerings, writes Paul Wood.
Often applauded for its fine dining experience and winning multiple awards in its heyday, this beautiful historic building maintains its charm, sitting near the main intersection in Bridgewater just minutes up the freeway from Adelaide. The business changed hands a few years ago but this classically redefined restaurant can still match the best the Adelaide Hills has to offer.
It’s a quiet Thursday lunch, and while the main multi-storey venue is empty the adjacent glass annex makes the most of the dreary weather, housing a small but eager bunch of mid-week diners. In the corner a low fire warms the cosy space and takes the chill off as we are shown to our table adjacent the atrium garden. The greenery seems to envelop the space and even some early winter rains can’t dampen our spirits. Service is prompt, with first orders taken just moments after we are seated and dishes following shortly after.
Pork belly cornichon terrine, hidden by a single leaf of pickled wombok, sits atop slightly crunchy beans. The main event is a delicious formation of the good bits, surrounded by a generous helping of pork crackling and a couple of tiny cornichons that provide an extra kick of acid and crunch with each bite. The terrine is coated in the thinnest layer of jelly that provides a touch of sweetness to the dish.
Braised beef cheeks swim in a pool of jus, thanks to the miso steeped mushrooms sitting alongside as well as juices seeping from the meat itself. Also benefiting from the juices is a fluffy olive oil mash and a single heirloom carrot adding a touch of colour. The dish is matched perfectly with a Seppeltsfield Grenache. Not quite as local as the meal itself, this hearty, balanced wine sings harmoniously with each mouthful that melts with minimal intervention. Worth an extra special mention are two small yet satisfying caramelised beef short ribs. The meat is a little less gelatinous than the cheeks but certainly worth the few extra chews they takes to devour.
Next, a well-constructed dish of confit duck leg that also falls from the bone. A melange of duck fat roasted potatoes with crunchy, brown edges cut through the richness of the poultry, and a flavoursome sauce seeps into a pile of Asian greens below. On top, shaved white asparagus and tempura lotus root provide balance and more crunch. This is another successful dish, cooked perfectly and plated with precision.
The dessert list is short, and only moderately sweet. Plum sorbet served with black peppercorn sugar syrup and peanut brittle is sugar and spice and all things nice. Pineapple is given the royal treatment, roasted and served with coconut two ways – as an ice cream, and toasted and shaved on top. Finally, the specialty of the kitchen is sticky date pudding, paired simply with macadamia and a generous dollop of double cream.
It must take some effort to maintain a reputation like that of The Bridgewater Mill, and while the water mill itself may only turn on special occasions the restaurant housed inside just keeps on spinning. With food like this, there are plenty more turns ahead.
The Bridgewater Mill
386 Mount Barker Road, Bridgewater
Hours: Thursday, Friday & Sunday – 12pm to 5pm, Saturday – 12pm to 10pm
(08) 8339 9200
Photography: Sia Duff