Clare Valley: Slate Restaurant & Neagles Rock Lookout Walk

Slate Restaurant with view to the deck

Hey there, friend!

In this journal entry, I’ll take you through our day trip to the stunning South Australian wine region of Clare Valley—indulging in a delicous lunch at the fantastic Slate Restaurant, followed by a fun but intense dog-friendly short walk at Neagle’s Rock.

Explore the Clare Valley with me

On one of our Saturdays, we decided to head to Clare Valley for the day. From where we were staying in Kapunda, this popular tourist destination is approximately 50 minutes away and if you’re travelling from Adelaide, it’s about a 90-minute drive.

Unfortunately for us, the weather was dodgy that day—cold, grey and gloomy, with bouts of rain. I’m a tropical baby so in winter, all I want to do is stay inside, keep warm and hibernate.

I really had to motivate myself to go out and focus on the fact that I would be rewarded with amazing food for my efforts! Can you relate?

Google Map of South Australia showing pins for Clare Valley, Barossa Valley and Kapunda.
Kapunda between Clare Valley and Barossa Valley (Google Map)

About Clare Valley in South Australia

The charming South Australian wine region of Clare Valley, I would say, is a blend of wide open wheat fields, stretches of farmlands with rolling hills, areas of bushland, quaint historic towns and of course, picturesque vineyards.

We had been to Clare Valley once before, we celebrated New Year’s there in 2022, staying at Clare Valley Cabins, because it was pre-caravan days! We booked a dog-friendly cabin and spent a few days there.

View of Clare Valley countryside from Neagles Rock Lookout. Located in Clare, Clare Valley, South Australia.
View of Clare Valley countryside from Neagles Rock lookout point

The tourism industry recovering from COVID

At that time, businesses were still recovering from the impact of COVID.

At what should’ve been peak season, there definitely wasn’t as many tourists as there would normally be. If I recall correctly, we still had to follow social distancing rules so tables were spaced out at venues.

Where to eat in the Clare Valley

Clare Valley is bursting with numerous cellar doors, restaurants, cafes and country pubs to visit. If you’re into wine or a lover of good food, make sure your South Australian travels includes this spectacular wine region.

Besides Slate Restaurant, which isn’t dog-friendly unfortunately, some of the places we popped into from our previous visit are below.

clare valley dog-friendly eats with outdoor seating
  • Jeanneret Wines and Clare Valley Brewing Co: located in Sevenhill, this had a lovely venue surrounded by bushland with a beautiful rustic building. From memory, it was super relaxing.
  • Magpie and Stump Hotel: an awesome country pub in Mintaro and set in a historic building. It has a great atmosphere and serve delicious high quality pub grub.
  • Sevenhill Hotel: this was another country pub that served great quality pub fare. From memory, we sat in an undercover alfresco area, so it’s a good one to visit in winter.
  • Mr Mick Cellar Door & Kitchen: located in Clare, this venue offered a tapas style menu. We sat out on the grass which was shaded by beautiful tall trees, perfect for dining with Charlie! Their historic tower building was stunning. It was a while ago, but I just remember having the feeling of being slightly disappointed with the food. Vague, I know!

You might also like

If you’re touring the wine regions of South Australia, you might also like to check out the stunning Barossa Valley, which is only just over an hour’s drive. You can find journal entries here, full of suggestions for fantastic eats & drinks.

Slate Restaurant at Pikes Wines

Not Dog-friendly

I was itching to sample the food at Pikes Wines’ acclaimed restaurant, Slate, after reading their impressive lineup of awards and accolades.

Now that we’ve had the pleasure of dining there, I can attest to the glowing reviews. If you’re venturing out to the Clare Valley, I would suggest putting this culinary experience on your list!

Chargrilled SA squid and carpaccio of cured bresaola s at Slate Restaurant,  Pikes Wines. Located in Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia.
Chargrilled SA squid and carpaccio of cured bresaola

The restaurant is located at the grounds of Pikes Polish Hill Estate in Sevenhill, about 13 kilometres south of Clare. You’ll find it in the same building as the Pikes Wines Tasting Room, and next door to the Pikes Beer Company Brewery and Taproom.

The Building

The wine tasting room and restaurant is so beautiful and tasteful inside. It has an elegant atmosphere with touches of modern country charm.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take outside photos of the building, or explore the rest of the estate grounds because it was pouring with rain!

Inside Slate Restaurant at Pikes Wines, view of the kitchen and bar area. Located in Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia.
Inside Slate Restaurant

The Service

We were warmly greeted by one of the waitstaff as soon as we stepped in. Our server was attentive, cheerful, and very easy to chat to. She ensured that we were taken care of the whole time! Plus, each course came out promptly, which is always a positive in my books.

The Food

Slate Restaurant offers a Modern Australian menu—creating fresh, simple, beautifully presented dishes with superb flavours.

Not only do they believe in showcasing the wonderful produce available in the Clare Valley region in their creations, they like to incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables harvested from their own kitchen garden.

Sourdough bread and cultured butter at Slate Restaurant,  Pikes Wines. Located in Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia.
House baked sourdough bread with cultured butter

You can choose individual dishes from their A La Carte Menu, which we ended up doing, or alternatively you can go with their ‘Feed Me’ three course menu for $75 per person. If you’re into your wines, you can also include wine pairings with your ‘Feed Me’ menu for an additional cost.

I had never had rabbit before so I was curious to see what the texture would be like. Admittedly, I’m not the best when it comes to overly strong gamey meats, so I hoped that its flavour would be on the milder side.

After tasting the dish, I found rabbit to be similar to chicken thigh, slightly meaty and gamey but still relatively mild. The texture was interesting because it almost had this flakiness, kind of like how tuna meat separates. It was a delicious dish.

Pan fried red snapper, wild rabbit ragu and roasted cocktail potatoes at Slate Restaurant,  Pikes Wines. Located in Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia.
Pan fried red snapper, wild rabbit ragu and roasted cocktail potatoes

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the courses but my personal favourite was the dessert, the blend of passionfruit and white chocolate is a match made in heaven. It also had just the right amount of sweetness.

Passionfruit tart with white chocolate and yoghurt ganache at Slate Restaurant,  Pikes Wines. Located in Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia.
Passionfruit tart with white chocolate and yoghurt ganache

Location & Opening Hours

233 Polish Hill Rd, Sevenhill, South Australia
Open for lunch, Thursday to Sunday, from 12pm
Open for dinner, every Saturday, from 6pm.

For more information on the venue or to book a table online, check out Slate Restaurant’s website.

Dining room with view to the outside at Slate Restaurant,  Pikes Wines. Located in Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia.
View to the deck

What if we’re travelling with a dog?

I’m sad to say that Slate doesn’t offer dog-friendly dining. We had to leave Charlie in the car for a little bit, but rest assured, it was cool weather and he was comfortable in there. If your dog is comfortable being in the car for a short amount of time, this could be an option.

Pikes Beer Company

Clare Valley Dog-friendly brewery with beer garden
A quick photo of Pikes Beer Co building while it was raining,  Pikes Wines. Located in Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia.
Quick photo of Pikes Beer Co. brewery and taproom as it was raining!

For those of you wanting to eat or grab a drink in a more casual and relaxed environment, Pikes Beer Company next door is a great option. Their beer garden has plenty of tables and is dog-friendly.

In saying that though, the tables don’t have much shelter or cover, not ideal in heavy rain, or extremely hot days.

The brewery offers a limited beer garden menu for lunch, serving between 12pm to 3pm daily. Visit the Pikes Beer Company website to see their current menu or to book a table. Their taproom is open daily from 10am to 4pm.

Neagles Rock Lookout Walk

Clare Valely Dog-friendly walking trail

One thing we try to incorporate before or after eating out is a long walk. Even though we probably consume more calories than we walk off most of the time, I like to think it helps a little bit!

After our feast at Slate Restaurant, we planned to take on Neagles Rock Lookout Walk. But with the weather, we weren’t sure if it was going to happen.

Thank the weather gods, the rain stopped just enough for us to start and complete the walk. It only started raining just as we reached the car on the way back. Phew!

Charlie sitting on a rock behind the Neagles Rock Lookout Sign. Located in Clare, Clare Valley, South Australia.
Charlie at Neagles Rock Lookout

The carpark for the walk is off Neagles Rock Road, watch out for the brown street sign. This fun adventurous trail is roughly a one-kilometre loop. It was longer for us as we missed a turn somewhere along the line, ended up on the Lavender trail, and had to double back.

Charlie sitting on textured red rock along Neagles Rock Lookout Walk (Lavender Trail). Located in Clare, Clare Valley, South Australia.
Charlie somewhere along the Lavender Trail (when we got directions wrong!)

It’s classified as a Grade 3 walk as it does have some short steep hill sections and rough, uneven surfaces throughout. It was peaceful being out in the bush, for sure, however because I was extremely full, it felt like effort with all of the uphill climbs!

Neagles Rock Lookout Information Sign

Once you get to the lookout point, you are treated to a classic view of the Clare Valley countryside with grassy rolling hills and neat patches of vineyards.

Neagles Rock was a popular picnic area back in the early years of European settlement. And apparently, it was also a rendezvous spot for lovers, earning the nickname “Lover’s Retreat”.

Charlie at the Lookout Point

It’s hard to show in photos but the climb down from the lookout point is quite steep. We had to be careful, especially as it had rained earlier and some parts were slippery.

Looking up at Neagles Rock from the steep trail, on the way back to the car park. Located in Clare, Clare Valley, South Australia.
Steep climb down after the lookout point

There is an area at the bottom that looks like a enchanted forest, the ground is covered in a thick abundance of clover-like plant.

Lush ground cover at Neagles Rock Lookout Walk area. Located in Clare, Clare Valley, South Australia.
Enchanted forest at Neagles Rock

Even though the trail is only 1km, it does have challenging parts that get your heart rate up. If you’re travelling with your furbaby, this is a brilliant little walk to do with them!

You can find out more about the Neagles Rock Lookout Walk via the Walking SA website.

Where to stay in the Clare Valley

Clare Valley DOG-FRIENDLY CARAVAN PARKS

If you’re travelling with a dog in a caravan and looking to stop overnight or more, there are a couple of options near the town of Clare from what I could see. It’s worth noting that we stayed in Kapunda, so I can’t offer any personal opinions or experiences with these places.

  • Discovery Parks – Clare: Situated at the southern edge of town along the main highway. Discovery Parks are generally family and dog-friendly.
  • Clare Valley Caravan Park: Located about 17 kilometres south of the Clare township, a short drive just past Watervale. The caravan park seems very dog-friendly.

And that’s a wrap!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this journal entry all about dining at Slate Restaurant and hiking the Neagles Rock Lookout Walk. I highly recommend both activities, if you’re travelling to the beautiful South Australian wine region of the Clare Valley.

Have you experienced either before? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments; I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for joining me, hope to see you again!

Sheryl

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Pinterest cover for Clare Valley, South Australia.

Hey Pawrents,

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