Nestled back off the main road through Second Valley is Leonard’s Mill. A beautifully restored 1849 flourmill, providing accommodation, a cellar door, functions and everything from coffee through to lunch and dinner.
Owners Jane Mitchell & Alan Greig, along with Head Chef Brendan Wessels and wife Lindsay Durr, also a chef, have created a welcoming environment featuring local produce in their kitchen.
Driving up the driveway my eyes wander to the man crouching off to the side in chef whites and his kitchen apron, picking something from the garden. I had read that Leonard’s Mill has a productive vegetable garden, fig, apple, lemon, lime, bay leaf, plum, pear and mulberry trees, so I know my dinner will certainly be fresh from the garden!
We booked early, as our son was with us and we ascend the stairs to be seated. Other tables were already occupied and before we know it all tables fill up.
There are two menus to choose from; the more relaxed ‘Miller’s Menu’ or their flagship menu, ‘A Taste of the Fleurieu’. It’s designed to take us on a “culinary journey of our pristine environment, showcasing the best the Fleurieu Peninsula has to offer”.
We choose ‘A Taste of Fleurieu’ and say we’ll start with the two courses and can always add desert later!
Before entrees arrive we receive a plate of three breads, all made on the premises, along with the butter. Yes, real butter! The breads are a rye, white ciabatta and a flaxseed cracker. All with different textures and soft and fresh.
For entrée we had pork belly, sesame and smoked aubergine puree, shiitake mushrooms and onion oil. Just yummy! The pork was tender with crackling that crunched and extra scratchings on the top! The puree was delicate and the mushrooms added texture.
Also, smoked kingfish sashimi, chargrilled octopus, dashi pearls, daikon and yuzu. An absolutely beautifully presented dish. There were so many layers and as I peeled back each layer, it revealed something else. The sashimi was fresh and delicate, the octopus was firm, and the dashi pearls encased in daikon looked so pretty. The seaweed cracker added some crunchy texture.
For mains we had the lamb neck, charred shallots, apple and sheep labneh. The lamb was very tender and the apple added tartness to the dish.
And beef and bone – hanger steak and marrow, sweet breads, turnip and tarragon. We asked for the steak to be cooked as the chef intended and it came out with a nice blush of pink. Once again excellent texture and freshness in the dish.
Lemon, caramelised white chocolate and ginger boterkoek (cake). So many components and textures to this dish and everything just blended together beautifully.