Dine, drink, devour

When it comes to dining at the top of the Fleurieu, the wineries they are a-changin’.

The General Wine Bar and Kitchen presents a fresh concept in SA wine country; two wineries developing a joint cellar door to function as a bar, sales outlet and kitchen, located in the main street of McLaren Flat rather than positioned among vineyards.
It’s a smart tourism-savvy venture undertaken by Ben Riggs of Mr Riggs Wines and Brad Rey of Zonte’s Footstep Wines, creating more of a good-vibe hangout with an easy, relaxed atmosphere than the expected winery tasting bench. The key to its appeal is that customers are encouraged to taste the expansive ranges of Mr Riggs and Zonte’s Footstep wines beside food, and chef Ben Sommariva (formerly of Fino Willunga and The Kitchen Door at Penny’s Hill) obliges with a small menu of appealing dishes.
Aiming to celebrate regional freshness, Ben follows an unconventional agenda – a few pintxos snack choices are augmented only by the chef’s chosen plates of the day to build a two-to-four course meal, rather than a conventional menu of selections. His argument is simple; he combs the region for outstanding fresh produce, and chooses only the best each day, such as vibrant red cured trout dressed in gloriously thick, rich local olive oil, or Goolwa cockles that sparkle with house-made pasta.
There’s simple pleasure in a generous bowl piled with tiny whole prawns that are lightly battered, quickly fried until crisp and generously seasoned, teamed with a deep-flavoured aioli and a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top. It’s a perfect bar snack, done successfully elsewhere with whitebait but far better and more aromatic with these tiny prawns.
It’s all as comfortable as sitting in the chef’s home kitchen, emphasised by the room’s cosy feel. It’s a shrewd remodeling of the town’s former general store; a complete re-fit with exposed brick, heavy old timber beams (some salvaged from the old Adelaide Oval grandstands) and large windows opening to the street. It presents an ideal place to wind down, drink Mr Riggs and Zonte’s Footstep wines (or a few international wine choices) and eat handsomely at leisure.

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