Shaun and Willa Arantz do not only operate a restaurant, but offer a cellar door, cafe, vineyard, events and a wholesome experience. The dishes are lovingly created, shaped and served in a manner complementary to making wine, with patience, much thought, innovation, care and an eye for the taste. The surrounding La Coline vineyard offers Pinot Noir, sparkling and Riesling on the surface, but once you get inside and saviour what is beneath the surface, you begin to better understand the underlying passion and drive that motivates the Racines. For example, earlier this year, Willa selected her favourite art pieces for Shaun to then create follow up inspired dishes for an event - the Eating Art Dinner. This 'eating art" concept comes alive when you see a dish like the twice cooked pork belly (image above) accompanied by rather sweet tasting, local produce green beans.
I chose the entree of whole pressed deboned duck (image above). Inside the layers of what can be compared to a multi-layered cake were sensations and bites of whole bread crumbs, interlaced with beet root puree and just the right amounts of radish, not overpowering but bringing out the best from the main ingredient - duck. It went well with my glass of Merlot.
To have two meat dishes in a row can be a bit rich, but I could not resist the saddle of lamb for my mains. With sweet bread, I found a balanced contrast with the medium rare juicy and flavourful lamb slices, on the left in the picture above. Sweetbreads or ris are made by soaking the thymus, pancreas and glands of the sheep in water and then poached in milk, before breading and frying them.
The result I had that evening was savoury, sweet and sensational - never mind the actual and original ingredients.
Located in the midst of the La Coline Wines estate, the restaurant has a pretty cottage setting amidst the vines. We travelled towards Lake Conabolas Road after sunset, so it was delightful to settle down on a table beside a veranda window and with a high expectancy hanging in the air.
My impressions of the Racine Restaurant in Orange are:Atmosphere: Country chic.
Location: Away from the cares of the outside world.
Taste: Lovingly formulated, crafted and nurtured.
People Engagement: Satisfactory.
Service: Efficient and Busy.
Best Time to Visit: Dinner
Fav Dish Experienced: Whole Pressed Deboned Duck
Would I Return?: In whatever season. I was recommended the twice cooked pork belly dish to try next time.