Balthazar Wine & Dining

There are very few exclusive dining rooms on the Gold Coast – secret nooks where you could gather a group of friends for a special occasion and they would be completely consumed by surprise and wonder.

Balthazar is one of those places.

Greeted by the hotel’s general manager, Ian Pirodon, we enter Balthazar. This glass-walled venue is one of two restaurants built by the new owner following the sale of Crowne Plaza in late 2015.

balthazar-1 Simple, understatedly stylish and sophisticated, Balthazar is a place where less equals more…in décor, that is, not wine. A wine-lover’s paradise, 500 wine bottles line the glass walls of the restaurant and two chandeliers made from glasses hang above us. Both denote the venue’s purpose: an exclusive tasting room come restaurant where 18 diners can experience exceptional wine matched to one of 15 degustation menus prepared by Executive Chef Jean-Marc Heussner and his staff.

balthazar-00 Named in honour of a 12 litre bottle of wine (in this case a balthazar of Bollinger, on display in the restaurant), it’s fitting that the wine at this, our first dinner at Balthazar, is exceptional.

Of course it is! The menu is paired with Penfolds wines, including the world’s most collected wine – Grange Hermitage.

balthazar-0a Crowne Plaza’s sommelier David Steven-Castro introduces Penfolds’ brand ambassador Adrian Marchioro, (recognised as one of The Age’s Top 100 Most Influential Victorians), who explains a little of the history of Penfolds as well as the characteristics of the wines paired with each course.

When Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold sailed out to Australia on the same boat as Dr Lindemann, neither man could have guessed the legacy that their work would bring.

Dr Penfold established his winery in 1844 on the slopes of Magill, South Australia from cuttings that he brought with him to Australia. In the early days, Penfold and his wife Mary peddled fortified wines as ‘heal all’ tonics from the back of a cart. Centuries later, Penfolds would become the most recognised wine label in the world.

balthazar-4 Each dish is paired with a wine, the appetiser of Coffin Bay oysters with native finger lime accompanied by Penfolds ‘Cellar Reserve’ Semillon 2012. Adrian credits winemaker Kym Schroeter, named as one of the top three white winemakers in the world, with the marked improvement in Penfolds’ white wines. This Bordeaux-styled wine with its clean and refreshing notes of grapefruit and orange peel is an example of how elegant a semillon can be.

balthazar-3 Executive Chef Jean-Marc Huessner, who introduces each course as it arrives at the table, proves to be quite the raconteur, telling tales from his extensive experience as a chef, as well as filling us in on the origins of some of the degustation’s dishes.

balthazar-6 As entrée, Jean-Marc has chosen to cook one of his mother’s recipes, originally made from rabbits his father had brought back from hunting. This terrine, however, is made from pancetta, veal and pine nuts, refreshed with an apple purée. A rustic French provincial dish, it’s well matched to the medium-bodied Penfolds ‘Cellar Reserve’ Sangiovese 2012, an Italian varietal with aromatic maraschino cherry flavours.

balthazar-7 French food is noted for its rich flavours, and the next dish, a Tasmanian lobster ravioli in an Armoricaine sauce is no exception. Tradition and training form the origins of the dish, the sauce originating from the northern region of Brittany, the Côtes d’Armor, the lobster mousse filling learned by Jean-Marc during his time as chef in a 3 Michelin starred restaurant. It takes the lively acidity of Penfolds ‘Cellar Reserve’ Pinot Gris 2014 to pair with the lobster, its ripe nashi pear and orange the perfect complement to the seafood.

We’ve all been waiting for the Grange Heritage 2003. When, in 1951, winemaker Max Schubert followed his dream to make a truly exceptional wine, the Grange Hermitage, it ‘lead to a remarkable dynasty of wines that would bring Penfolds wines worldwide recognition for their signature style, consistency and longevity’. (Langtons)

balthazar-9 Grange is a multi-regional wine, we learned, the 2003 Grange sourced from Barossa, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale and Magill vineyards. (The latter includes the Kalimna Block, planted in 1888, the oldest shiraz and cabernet vines in the world). A ‘very good’ vintage, the Grange’s complex spicy dark fruit and tobacco notes are set against a grass-fed Oakey farm beef tenderloin, served with goose live, duchesse potato and green peas with a double reduced jus.

balthazar-11 Citrus tartlet, for dessert, is served with the delicious Penfolds ‘Cellar reserve’ Viognier 2014, with its hints of apricot, citrus, almond and honey. The viognier, made in the Rhône tradition of stopping the fermentation process by chilling down the wine, is not overly sweet. It would be a perfect accompaniment for trending desserts which carry more savoury tones.

The dinner was a fitting introduction to Balthazar: a unique opportunity to wine and dine, marrying the best to the best: Penfolds wines presented by Adrian Marchioro, paired with a five-course degustation menu prepared by the Crowne Plaza’s highly skilled Executive Chef Jean-Marc Huessner. Sophisticated and stylish yet warm and inviting, Balthazar is an exciting and innovative, wine and dining destination not to be missed.

balthazar-0a Note: Balthazar is available for exclusive use – the perfect venue for an intimate wedding (using in conjunction with the hotel’s chapel), a special celebration or a business dinner. The restaurant seats 18 guests at a communal table, with a number of degustation menus including French, Modern Australian or contemporary Chinese on offer. On evenings when the venue is not booked, a tapas menu is available for diners. Balthazar is fully licensed and their fine wine is also available for retail purchase.

Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2807 Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5592 9900

Open: Mon – Sun 11am – late

NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Balthazar.
Balthazar Wine & Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Asian Atmosphere Broadbeach Catering Cuisine Degustation Dinner Feature articles French International Licensed Lunch Main course $15 to $25 Main course $25 to $40 Modern Australian Restaurants Set price Surfers Paradise Wheelchair friendly Wine , , , , , , , , , , ,

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