Morpeth in autumn is something a little bit special.
The crisp days and chilly nights. The scent of wood-fired smoke in the air. Historic buildings bathed in golden afternoon sunlight. Leaves flaming orange and red in defiance of the coming winter.
And then there's the warm welcome from the town's business owners. Folk like Jane and Daniel Maroulis.
The couple opened Boydell's Cellar Door & Restaurant in 2019 to complement their boutique East Gresford winery, Boydell's. Their vineyard on the Allyn River is named after Charles Boydell, who settled the property in 1826 and planted some of the first vines in the Hunter.
The heritage ironbark hut which houses their restaurant on Morpeth's Green Street was built in the 1850s and used by Boydell to trade tobacco and wine.
The restaurant's autumn seasonal menu is "a mix of local produce, fresh flavours and a hint of Scottish influence by our head chef Paula", Jane Maroulis said.
"Of particular note at the moment are our sage and onion Scotch eggs with chilli jam; our sardines on toasted brioche; our roasted capsicum, salsa verde, quail eggs, dried olives; and our spice-rubbed, slow-roasted lamb shoulder with butternut puree, autumn slaw, feta and orange.
"Paula Rengger is a well-respected chef from her days as owner and head chef at Shakey Tables restaurant in the Hunter Valley. She has a great interest in art and her creative side shows in the presentation of her dishes.
"We are lucky to be in a region where local farmers are providing us with some wonderful local produce from Maitland up to Gloucester and the Barrington Tops."
As for the wine offering, the couple have been "enjoying a glass or two" of the Boydell's sparkling verdelho.
"It is such a unique product for Boydell's and its popularity is through the roof. It's a wonderful match with Paula's duck liver parfait as an appetiser for lunch."
Boydell's has survived a turbulent 12 months thanks to the support of Morpeth locals and the COVID-driven boom in regional tourism.
"We have a calendar of events in place now that COVID has settled down, and are most excited to see what Paula and her team will come up with at our June wine dinners which will feature English and Scottish dishes."
It's a busy week for Boydell's, who will be giving Maitland Taste attendees a sneak peek at the 2021 vintage, and spoiling mums on Sunday with a special three-course lunch and dinner service (goats' cheese cheesecake, heirloom tomatoes, fresh figs, shiraz jam; rainbow trout, roast cauliflower, currants, burnt lemon butter; and white chocolate parfait, dark chocolate mousse, honeycomb).
Book at boydells.com.au; $95 per person with a complimentary glass of wine for mum.
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