Food Drink

SA venue named Best Hotel Restaurant in the World

South Australia’s Watervale Hotel has been named the Best Restaurant in the World for 2023- and, it’s just a short drive from Adelaide.

It has been named the Best Restaurant in the World for 2023. And it’s on our doorstep. 

The Watervale Hotel is located less than two hours from Adelaide in the heart of the Clare Valley wine region. In the last couple of years, it has been completely renovated and is being heralded as one of the most exciting food and wine experience destinations in Australia. But this takes it to a new level.

The Watervale was recently awarded ‘Best Hotel Restaurant of the Year’ in the global Corporate Livewire Awards.⁠ Co-owner Warrick Duthy spoke to Glam Adelaide about the prestigious award. 

’It’s a bit surreal really. It’s not as if they’ve sent judges out to every restaurant in the world. A couple of years ago, we had a journalist come and do an article which ended up being published in the LUXlife Magazine.”

“Then, the magazine did a ‘best of’ article, and we were voted Best Culinary Experience in the World. That made the team at Corporate Livewire send judges, and what they came back with was really positive.”

Corporate Livewire is a UK publication that recognises excellence and innovation in businesses across a broad range of categories. Of the almost 700 categories there are 21 in Food and Drink, of which the Watervale Hotel was the only Australian winner. 

“We can’t quite believe it. It’s massive for us,” Warrick said. 

“We have had bookings made by tourists from Europe and North America whilst planning their Australian tours. One couple from Luxembourg decided to fly into Adelaide and travel direct to Watervale for their first night in Australia. Another couple from California in Adelaide for Comicon decided to extend their Australian visit in the Clare Valley to dine with us.” 

What makes the Watervale Hotel unique is that they are a true farm to plate restaurant. It’s all about Ethical Epicurean Experiences. Their promise of farm-to-plate is genuine fresh food, sourced from a number of local farms including their own organic, bio-dynamic Penobscot Farm operated to permaculture principles. Their team of international Chefs, headed by Co-owner Nicola Palmer know that their job is to enhance and enrich the natural flavours mother nature has given us.

As everyone knows there is nothing sadder than a pub feed consisting of limp salad, greasy chips and a deep-fried schnitzel. The Watervale Hotel, on the other hand, is a joy to behold, and steering away from pub grub. Each ceramic dish is plated with leaves and stems of seasonal greens, yuzu grind, apple, squash, radish and a mix of petals and blooms.

The fruit, vegetables and leaves served at the Watervale Hotel have been plucked, snipped or pulled from the ground that morning.  As splendid as the transformation of the historic Clare Valley hotel is, the hotel is only part of the story. What is equally if not more important is what is happening a few hundred metres down the road at Penobscot Farm, the source of all these plant-based ingredients.

Both pub and farm are owned by well-known locals Warrick Duthy and Nicola Palmer, whose commitment to this project and the benefit it can bring to the wider region seems boundless.

“We have an ego-less kitchen. The style of food is authentic and genuine and it is driven by passion. Obviously there’s many technique, and a lot of skill that is used, but at the end of the day the job is to enrich and enhance what’s already there.” 

There’s some pretty exceptional items on the menu. Warrick says that the Kingfish Ceviche, with a native river mint sorbet, is one of the popular ones, along with the Lamb Milanese, in a herb crumb with a walnut salad. But there’s also a surprising component that is often brought up by customers.

“It’s the butter!” Warrick laughed. “Nicola makes it from scratch from smoked cream. It’s not often the answer we’re looking for when we ask diners what their favourite part of the dish is but it’s lovely nonetheless.”

The Watervale Hotel has also been awarded SA Wine List of the Year for its extensive offering that champions the Clare Valley. 

“We absolutely promote the Clare Valley region. We have most of the producers and varieties on the lost. One of the things that we do is pour back vintages by the glass. So, you can have a vintage Wendouree red, a vintage Grosset Riesling, or even a 2014 Oracle Shiraz all by the glass.” 

You can hear the passion Warrick has for the Watervale Hotel in his voice. It’s driven by this passion, and innovation, and immense care for the region he resides and works in. And its these qualities that have earned them this title. 

The Watervale Hotel is located at 37 Main N Rd, Watervale SA 5452. Book your Watervale experience here

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