13 Must-Visit Places to Eat and Drink Like Foodie Royalty Across the Murray Region
Wine and dine along the banks of the Murray River, home to a vibrant food scene and diverse range of wine styles.
April 05, 2023
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You could travel to the Murray and do nothing but eat, drink and be merry. And you should. The region is jam-packed with incredible producers, innovative makers and chefs, old-school artisans and new-wave cuisine. Having access to some of the country's best farmers and makers gives these venues the luxury of a hyper-local, hyper-seasonal approach to food and drink. From swanky bistros and rustic wineries to experimental distillers and fire-focused chefs, the Murray region is an unmissable foodie destination.
If you're a flavour-chaser, prepare yourself to get amongst it all: swirl small-batch wines, discover ancient flavours and native ingredients, and experience new locavore dining experiences and European-inspired eateries. Whatever your taste, whenever you decide to visit, there's someone in the Murray region putting their heart and soul into something delicious.
WINE AND DINE
Trentham Estate Winery lies on the banks of the Murray, offering an award-winning cellar door experience. This much-lauded NSW Tourism Awards Hall-of-Famer boasts 45 sweeping hectares of vines producing French and Italian varietals. Officially established in 1988, it'd actually been in viticulture for decades beforehand, and it's still a family-run winery today. Snag a table at the restaurant to enjoy Modern European fare, or swing by the cellar door to just sit back and watch the boats slide by as you sip shiraz (also, unsurprisingly, award-winning).
Morrisons Riverview Winery and Restaurant (pictured above) is more than just a darn gorgeous venue — this Moama winery also has a restaurant that should be on every foodie hitlist. The ever-changing menu is focused on local, seasonal produce with enough variety to suit all tastes. Sweetcorn bread with cashew sambal and burnt chilli butter sits alongside lamb backstrap with pickled cauli, greens, couscous and smoked eggplant puree, calamari caesar salad pimped with pork scratchings and garlic toast, and chips with kasundi, aioli and hop salt. The five-course 'Chef's Feed Me' option is the best way to sample the scope of these flavours. Enjoy it while sipping Morrisons' premium wine blends from its 15 hectares of vines — from chardonnay to moscato to shiraz.
SIP SOMETHING SPECIAL
For something different, take a drive out to Monak Wine Co. Its first vintage was released in 2020 making it a younger winery (albeit with 25 years of winemaking experience to draw on). Here's what else you need to know: it's family-owned, works with local growers and applies exquisite attention to detail to its small-batch, handmade drops. It's an eclectic mix of wines — some minimal intervention, all very special. The cellar door opens on Friday and Saturday to slake your curiosity.
The Old School Winery and Meadery (pictured above) is more than a classic winery. Sure, it makes a few small-batch, handcrafted reds, but the main point of difference is mead — traditionally fermented honey alcohol. On the site of an old Womboota school, this rustic venue offers a taste of history in more ways than one. It has been making mead for over 20 years, spearheading the honey-wine industry growth in Australia. Mead was a drink beloved by Vikings, but the unique flavour of Australian bush honey makes this unlike any European mead. Here, the team crafts everything from sweet and fortified meads to drier styles. They also make medieval mead beakers in the on-site pottery workshop. Bring a picnic and settle into the cellar door garden for an afternoon.
GET SPIRITED AWAY
Drink less, enjoy more: that's the ethos of Echuca Distillery, championing quality and character over quantity. Based in Echuca Moama, David De Vries and his wife Fiona have decades of experience in fragrance and flavour production science. Their fastidious research and passion for playing with gin botanicals lead to unique, expressive flavour profiles. Starting with a base of grain or grape spirit distilled in Lavender, their Italian copper still, they infuse classics like dry and navy strength gin as well as combos like yuzu and ginger, a five-citrus gin and a port barrel-aged gin. In addition to liqueurs, cocktail spirits, arak and agave, Echuca has now added a whisky to the lineup.
Corowa Whisky and Chocolate (pictured above) began with an underdog story of three mates buying an abandoned flour mill for a dollar. With one of Australia's youngest head distillers, this business produces a true blue Aussie whisky. It uses local organic barley grains and Murray River water to make its signature dram, aided by the drastically fluctuating temperatures of the area which leads to faster maturation. The most popular whisky, Corowa Characters, honours the team behind it and is aged in American, French and Hungarian oak.
There are other whisky styles that use ex-bourbon, ex-muscat and ex-sherry casks, as well as single barrel releases and a special collab with Bridge Road Brewers, distilled from unsold kegs of beer in 2020. For those with a sweet tooth, there are Belgian chocolates crafted in-house on offer that are the perfect complement to whisky. What more could you need?
Bistro Selle is a classic European bistro in the heart of a country city. There's a balance between comfortable familiarity, charming elegance and playful experiments. As well as freshly shucked oysters and smoked beef tartare, you'll find crispy tripe, goat ragu and a porcini-choc-fennel-malt dessert. Refined dishes are plated in an artistic, almost sculptural, way that's as pleasing to the eye as to the tastebuds. All are accompanied by an extensive wine list of Australian and European drops.
The key focus of Yardbird (pictured above) is flame, from the Spanish Mibrasa woodfired oven in the kitchen to the roaring glass-fronted fire centrepiece of the dining room. It only opened in 2021, but it's been making a name for itself in the region. The decor is stylish yet warm and comforting: light-flooded, pale timber accents and post-industrial warehouse ceilings. The western European-inspired menu changes in line with the daily produce and opportunity, but can include whipped cod roe and flatbread; deep fried Crottin de Chavignol with figs, green beans and honey; bavette steak with bone marrow, persillade and green peppercorn; rosemary duck fat potatoes and mamasita-style fire-roasted corn; and poached cherry pavlova to finish. Now, imagine all that paired with a bright wine list of mineral-driven, minimal intervention vino.
OR KEEP IT CASUAL
The River Deck Cafe serves Modern Australian cuisine in Albury, overlooking the tree-lined banks of the Murray. Local and native ingredients take centre stage here, so you can really taste the region, with its creative flourish on a farm-to-table menu. It's very seasonal. So seasonal that the menu changes every two to four weeks in line with the availability of the best produce.
At breakfast and lunch, it offers comforting country classics like sourdough crumpets alongside the smashed avo and house granola any city slicker expects of brekkie, followed by hearty mains like a porterhouse steak, barramundi and chips and pasta dishes.
The Albury offshoot of a locally loved Lake Mulwala restaurant, Blacksmith Provedore, has distilled that same European aperitivo hour aesthetic of the original into a space within the famously top-notch Harris Farm market. With a white and grey marble bar, hanging charcuterie and rows of delicious wines, it brings more casual riviera elegance than you might expect. Plus, being in the market, it has access to the finest ingredients. As well as local produce, expect prosciutto from San Daniele, San Marzano tomatoes from Salerno and buffalo Mozzarella from Shaw River. You can start your day with luxurious pastries, a Reuben toastie or fruit-topped chia puddings. Stop by later to get in on those famous woodfired pizzas with a three-day slow-fermented base. Pair it with a spritz or cocktail special, or opt for a wine from the truly delicious list.
Located at the rear of Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA), looking over the gardens, Canvas Eatery is a bright light-filled modern space offering a peaceful retreat in the heart of Albury. It's open 8am—3pm daily but also opens on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5pm till late. It serves some of the best coffee in town, according to the locals. Not to mention craft beer and excellent wines. Food-wise, it's a fun, fresh menu, with Coco Pops, crumpets with honeycomb butter and raspberry cheesecake waffles for breakfast. An open bagel smørrebrød with herb creme fraiche, smoked salmon, avo and salmon caviar features on the lunch menu. Then by night, expect an eclectic mix of share plates, including smoked river fish croquettes, prawn toast banh mi, duck parfait with rye wattleseed waffle, and pizzas.
TAKE A TASTING TOUR
Take a cruise down the river, capturing that old-timey charm on board an award-winning tour. Murray River Paddle Steamer's 'Wharf to Winery' premium cruise takes you along the Murray in an iconic, beautifully restored historic paddle steamer. The total tour is about three hours, accompanied by a captain's commentary on the history and culture of the area. Then it's time for a two-course lunch at Morrisons Winery and a guided tasting. On the way back, enjoy complimentary vino as you sail along the Murray in style.
Nothing compares to meeting the folks behind the food, and The Eating, Drinking, Tasting tour with Albury Eating Travel allows you to do just that. A full-day tour of two to seven guests in a Mercedes van will take you around the region to chat with the experts themselves: small-scale, private farms, boutique wineries and distilleries. And each tour is unique and catered to your taste and the seasons.
For more ways to enjoy the Murray region, check out our nature guide or history and culture guide. Or, to start planning your food pilgrimage to the Murray region, head to the website.
Top images: Destination NSW (Corowa Distillery; Blacksmith Provedore, Albury).
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