With a focus on flavour, and a broad pantry, this winery restaurant breaks the mould with a menu that hums with spice.
The glass-walled room takes in views of bushland and vines, tables are dressed in white cloth, service is astute and the wine leans on Forest Estate’s own cellar. So far, so predictable for a winery restaurant. But while the name references salt and pepper, these are the least interesting spices in Silas Masih’s kitchen. Lamb rump is served, for example, with a Goan-spiced curry sauce fragrant with coriander seed, anise and fennel; local marron is flavoured with a seven-spice blend, then served in a layered pork-shank broth.
Charred chicken Maryland in a heady tom yum sauce with taro, kale and elephant garlic? No one else in the state cooks like this.
Needless to say, when so many of the state’s regional restaurants trend one way, Pepper and Salt boldly veers the other, tapping Masih’s Fijian-Indian heritage and combining it with modern-Australian sensibilities. You could call it a little dated, and sometimes there’s a touch too much going on – slivers of tomato are perhaps one too many accessories on a plate of crisp, fatty macadamia-crumbed pork-cheek croquettes with alluring ginger mayonnaise, while that lamb would benefit from removing a garnish, be it the sweet potato pujah, curry leaves, (coconut-)creamed spinach (lolo in Fiji) or salt-baked beetroot – but it’s brave cooking, and flavour always comes first. Charred chicken Maryland in a heady tom yum sauce with taro, kale and elephant garlic? No one else in the state cooks like this. Only have time for one meal in Denmark? Make it here.