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Fine dining in Albury with a singular vision for the menu

Words & images by Richard Cornish

Glenbosch on Dean Street, Albury, is the brand-new culinary flagship for Glenbosch Winery in Everton Upper. Winemaker Dirk Bester and his wife and restaurateur Nika moved to the Northeast from Swartland in the Western Cape of South Africa.

They opened the winery three years on the site of an existing business. They expanded operations to include a distillery and a restaurant. Two weeks ago, they opened the doors to their new cellar door and fine dining restaurant in the historic Australia Building in the heart of Albury, a short walk from the train station.

The cellar door is a light and welcoming space with loads of charming traditional Cape-style touches from the Dutch-influenced glazed tiles at the entrance, the animal horn chandeliers, and the lime-wood booths and wooden tables. This is a tasting room for the wines made at the winery, about an hour to the south near Beechworth, and a bar. Come during the day to taste the cool climate wines made by Dirk.

Smoke from the 2020 fires meant he needed to bring in fruit from elsewhere, but his 2021 chardonnay shows his skill in the traditional French style of winemaking. Dirk explores his Swartland roots in the Glenbosch gins with one flavoured with rooibos, the herbal tea grown in Swartland. Enjoy four wines or three gins with matching food for $25, or taste the drinks without the food match for $15. Lunchtime from Thursday to Saturday sees a chef’s choice lunch menu, perhaps a choice of steak or tuna.

Pass through a set of heavy wooden doors to the dining room, a sparse historic, industrial space with polished concrete floors, bare brick walls, and timber joists of the floor above and tables topped with a thick veneer made from an old butcher’s block. In the open kitchen, you can see Chef Chris de Jongh plating up. He’s an acolyte of the molecular gastronomy school of cuisine and alumni of the great South African restaurant La Colombe, rated 56th in the 2022 World’s 50 Best Restaurants. His set menu is a singular representation of his journey through the countries of the world that has influenced his technique-rich style of cooking based on excellent produce.

The nine-course menu, with an option of buying in at just five, takes diners around the globe with a cavalcade of beautifully presented and expertly executed dishes. The first course sees a brisee pastry tartlet lined with horseradish cream and smoked kangaroo. Then there’s a trip to India with the crisp round shell of a pan puri filled with potato curry topped with a cooling cucumber and coriander gel.

Served in a pot of succulents decorated with a smoking cinnamon quill, it is beautiful and theatrical. There could be a single oyster with mint and black garlic served on a bed of dry ice or a tile of pressed beef shorted rib laid out on the end of a cleaned trimmed rib and topped with salsa verde and a sweet and sour sauce from Cape Malay. Eaten straight off the bone, the flavours are straight from the Cape.

Another stand-out dish is what appears to be a jug with a candle. It is actually filled with liquid beef fat that is poured out onto a plate with a Japanese milk bun which is used to sop up the fat, and clay pot filled with onion jam, emulsion and soil. While there is some dissonance between the slightly gloomy dining room and the bright theatrical style of the menu, those who like the playful excess of molecular cuisine should be impressed by the food alone. The floor staff has an old-world difference that helps play to the exuberance and sheer fun of the dishes. With Albury and Wodonga being joined at the hip, it is OK to say that regional Victoria now has another dining destination.

The Details

What: Molecular fine dining in the heart of Albury
Who: Chef Chris de Jongh, ex-Cape Town
Where: 453 Dean Street, Albury
Why: Seriously fun, flavourful, well-executed multi-course degustation
When: Open now
More Info: Glenbosch

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
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