On our recent trip to the Hunter Valley we stayed at Hermitage Lodge – which also houses the award winning Il Cacciatore restaurant. Coming back from a big day of wine tasting (which is surprisingly tiring!) we decided to just mosey along to the restaurant located 100 metres from our room.
We were expecting a good meal, but boy were we surprised! It was fantastic! Just after we ordered our waitress brought over a complimentary three cheese stuffed mushroom with rocket for each of us and OMG. It was the best stuffed mushroom I have ever eaten. The cheeses were creamy & tangy then paired with the soft flavoursome mushroom & the crisp punchy rocket – I just about died and went to food heaven!!!
We started with the Crisp Parmesan Polenta Chips with Basil Aioli ($8) – usually a side, but we ordered it as our entrée - and we were glad we split it between the two of us. The thick batons of polenta goodness were well paired with the creamy, flavoursome basil aioli which in itself was amazing – I would love to have gotten the recipe for that one! Although the serving doesn’t look huge, we were almost full by the end of them.
One of the reasons we were keen to try Il Cacciatore was a story Dale’s parents told us from when they had stayed at Hermitage Lodge – they had ordered a picnic basket (you can arrange to have a basket prepared for you by the kitchen if you are planning on eating al-fresco) and went to pick it up before the concert they were about to see. Anyway, they got talking with the kitchen staff about the artist they were going to see when the chef offers to drive them over to the concert & pick them up afterwards! Now is that service or what!
For mains, Dale ordered the Smoked Salmon Linguine ($30) which contained both cooked salmon & smoked salmon, capers & baby spinach in a creamy lemon-dill sauce. Dale spent the whole time remarking by just how much salmon they actually put in the dish – usually he finds they never give him enough meat in a pasta dish!
I ordered the Fettuccini Boscaiola ($28) which consisted of perfectly al dente pasta with pancetta, mushrooms and fresh basil leaves in a creamy sauce. Being me, I also drenched mine in parmesan & black pepper & oh man was it good! I very rarely order creamy pasta’s at restaurants as so much can go wrong, but the sauce was a perfect consistency, lovely and thick & the basil really gave it extra punch.
The servers were friendly & efficient, always having a smile on their faces & ready to assist you. We sat out on their deck overlooking the pond & the calm scenery which really was a great way to spend an evening. I would highly recommend you book a table outside if it’s nice weather!
Il Cacciatore also provides take away pasta & pizza – even delivering it to your room, which is a fantastic idea if you are exhausted like we were! We would definitely return to Il Cacciatore & when we do, I have plans to investigate the dessert menu!