Why Orange is one of NSW’s great dining destinations
When a region is famous for its fresh produce and spectacular wines, it’s going to attract exceptional chefs. It’s this combination that has made Orange one of the state’s most delicious dining destinations. Find out where to wine and dine below.
As the name suggests, fire is king at Charred Kitchen & Bar, which was awarded two hats awarded in the Good Food Guide in 2023. The set tasting menu features dishes like charred pizza dough with smoke trout caviar, wagyu beef with pickled peppercorns, and lamb dumplings with barbecue zucchini flowers – all cooked in the restaurant's bespoke charcoal oven, cheekily named Lucifer.
The village of Millthorpe, a 25-minute drive away, also has its own hatted dining destination, Tonic. Established in 2003 by Nicole and Tony Warland, the latter has worked beside renowned chefs Matt Moran, Michael Manners and Gordon Ramsay throughout his career. The five-course set menu changes every week, but you might be lucky enough to get the vichyssoise with Millthorpe truffle or the justifiably famous duck lasagne.
In tiny Carcoar, Antica Australis re-creates the experience of an Italian slow food locanda, serving a four-course set menu of classic dishes like risotto, caponata, meatballs and zuppa inglese (Italian trifle). It’s BYO, so you can bring a bottle from your favourite local vineyard, and with only 24 guests at a time, it’s a charmingly intimate experience.
Casual & cultural
It’s always a fun night out at Mr Lim, a buzzy Chinese/Korean/Australian diner. Grab a seat at the long communal table to chat with the locals or grab the microphone for a round of karaoke, held every weekend. The Mr Lim team also run the excellent Mr Sushi King Japanese restaurant, just across the road. For more modern Asian cuisine, book a table at Raku Izakaya (go for the omakase menu) or Sweet Sour Salt (where you’ll feast on creative pan-Asian dishes).
The Schoolhouse Restaurant, inside the ever-popular Union Bank wine bar, has an extensive and interesting menu of share plates. There’s classics like chicken liver parfait and marinated kingfish alongside bone marrow with saffron or white anchovies on toast. Nab a seat in the sunny courtyard for a long lunch.
Dine in the vines
A handful of wineries in the Orange wine region also operate very good restaurants. Sisters Rock sits at the top of Borrodell Estate, overlooking the pinot noir vines, and serving a four-course menu that features many ingredients grown on the property. In winter, truffles are the star, and throughout the year you’ll see produce like apples, plums, cherries and quince highlighted.
Printhie Wines opened a dedicated restaurant at the vineyard in early 2022, with chef Jack Brown (formerly of Berowra Waters Inn and NOMAD Sydney) at the helm. The innovative five-course set menu includes dishes like venison tartare, smoked quail with coconut and pear, or Murray cod with yabby dumplings. There’s also a tank of live oysters, perfect as a starter with a glass of their award-winning Swift Sparkling.
If you are interested in an alfresco feast, Heifer Station offers private picnics underneath willow trees during the summer, overlooking the surrounding vineyard. The basket of treats includes a tasting flight of six wines and a platter of cheese, bread, fresh fruit, nuts, dips and chocolate. If you feel like adding an extra bit of luxe to the experience, you can pair it with a scenic helicopter tour.
The annual Orange F.O.O.D Week is Australia's longest-running regional food festival, running over 10 days every April. Showcasing local farmers and chefs, events range from markets, celebration dinners, workshops and visits to farms, orchards and kitchens. For those visiting in the winter months, local producers put on quite a show at the , which is all about eating hearty meals beside crackling fire pits and sipping heart-warming red wine.
Stock up on supplies
Before heading home, make sure you stock up on the region’s gourmet goods. Drop into Red Chilli Deli to choose from a selection of cheeses, hams, small goods, jams, relishes, chutneys, sauces, tapenades, artisan breads, oils and chocolates. Housed in a semi-industrial, semi-agricultural strawbale-brick building, a number of local producers use the Agrestic Grocer as their cellar door and main retail outlet, including Badlands Brewery, The Second Mouse Cheese Co and Pig in The House Wines. Meanwhile, Ferment is a wine bar-meets-bottle shop selling drinks from smaller producers that don't have cellar doors themselves.