Rae's Restaurant @ Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa

4 ½ star Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort and Spa in the heart of Victoria’s Yarra Valley recently released its new winter menu for 2015 with a strong focus on local regional dishes.

Each menu at the resort’s Rae’s Restaurant varies from season to season in order to take full advantage of the wealth of fresh produce in the Yarra Valley, with many of the herbs and vegetables sourced from Balgownie Estate’s very own kitchen garden.
Having lunch rather than dinner ensures that you are afforded a picturesque view of the sundrenched pinot noir vines and its leafy surrounds.  The floor to ceiling windows which encase the dining room, allow warm sunlight to billow in and provide a bright, airy and spacious atmosphere – a spaciousness underscored by the generous apportioning of space to each table.
The focal point of the restaurant remains the outstanding wines. Known for their ability to age, we enjoyed glasses of the 2010 Balgownie Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that had been highly recommended to us. 
Hand rolled Potato Gnocchi, Smoked ocean trout, fennel, minted pea puree, Balgownie Estate chardonnay cream

The gnocchi was a beautifully rich dish which was highlighted by the light gnocchi.
Lamb fillet, Fried eggplant, tomato and zucchini ragout

The high quality pieces of lamb were cooked perfectly to a tender and juicy pink. The accompanying eggplant and tomato and zucchini ragout made this wonderfully flavoursome dish.
Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon, Thai red curry marinated, baked cashew nut, coriander and Vietnamese mint

The perfectly seasoned curry broth possessed the customary punchy flavours exhibited by South East Asian curries and was a great match for the oily texture of the salmon. We loved the inclusion of crunchy baked cashew nuts and fresh coriander and Vietnamese mint.
Broccolini, soy ginger glaze and crispy shallots; Crumbed button Mushrooms, herb pesto
Vine Smoked Chargrilled Boneless Rib-eye, Crispy fries, green beans, Bordelaise sauce

The steak was delicious. Cooked to our liking (medium rare), the steak was delectably juicy and tender. The accompaniments to the steak were each delicious – the crispy fries were perfectly seasoned and wonderfully flavoured and the green beans provided a thoroughly enjoyable freshness.
Warm Red Wine Cake, Balgownie Shiraz, cinnamon ice cream, sultana compote

For dessert, the Warm Red Wine Cake was a delight. Fluffy and moist with aromatic cinnamon ice cream, this cake was a deliciously sweet end to our visit. 
Overlooking Balgownie Estate’s pinot noir vineyard; the rolling hills and expansive views, Rae’s Restaurant affords the perfect backdrop for a lovely meal to be enjoyed over award-winning wine. 

Location: Melba Hwy, Yarra Glen
Phone: 03 9730 0774
Cuisine: Modern Australian

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Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa.

Autumn @ Rochford Winery Restaurant

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Rochford.
Rochford possesses all of the requisite elements to deliver an enchanting experience not found in the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. Our expectations of Rochford are fostered not only by its excellent reputation, but by our own experiences on each of our previous visits. Our unwavering eagerness to return speaks volumes about how highly we regard this wonderful winery restaurant.
As the winter month approaches, the Yarra Valley is transformed into a stunning scene with golden autumn leaves adorning the vines.
Despite having eaten at Rochford countless times already, it continues to draw us back time and again and has rightfully claimed a spot in our favourite restaurants of all time.
The dining area is spacious, modern and elegant, exuding an air of calm. The glass windows encasing the dining area allow the sun to trickle in and present magical views out to the Rochford vineyard and the broader Yarra Ranges.

The sense of true hospitality is palpable, echoed in the modern Australian menu prepared using high quality, fresh ingredients which are often locally sourced. The service is always friendly and efficient.
We decided to share a bottle of the 2010 YV “La Droite”. A 50% Merlot 50% Cabernet Franc blend named with reference to the Bordeaux “Right Bank”, it was a beautiful drop.   
Not only does the arrival of the autumn season mean the beginning of Vintage harvest at Rochford Wines Yarra Valley, but it also marks the arrival of a new menu at Isabella’s Restaurant created by Head Chef Ciaran Butler. The menu is extremely well-priced. From $55 for 2 courses, the value proposition is compelling.
Galway born, Ciaran has worked in several Michelin star restaurants throughout Europe and Asia. His experience extends from working under the great John Kelly at Ardilaun House Hotel in Ireland to time spent at Crown Casino and the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel.

 As usual, each dish was cooked perfectly.
Kingfish ceviche 
a ceviche of Australian kingfish with sea grapes, pickled radish, yuzu jel & seaweed powder 

We commenced our dining experience with a beautifully presented ceviche. The citrus cured fish was embellished with sea grapes. The pickled radish added a wonderful touch to what was an enlivening combination of ingredients.
Local beetroots & Goats curd 
Local beetroots, with Yarra Valley goats curd foam, pine nuts 

The entrée of goat’s curd and beetroot had perfectly balanced flavours. Each element of the dish matched the other. The slight acidity from the beetroot brought a lovely tanginess that cut through the creaminess of the cheese. It all came together beautifully.
Tasmanian salmon fillet 
Oven baked fillet of salmon with Port Phillip Bay mussels, Rochford Chardonnay Marinières sauce, potato stones & sea asparagus 

The salmon skin was beautifully crisp and the flesh was deliciously moist and tender. The accompanying sea asparagus was a delicious addition. A coastal succulent, the sea asparagus provided delicious bursts of saltiness.
220g Wagyu Rump
Marble score 9 rump with horseradish potato puree, baby leeks, pearl onions and Rochford Pinot Noir jus 

The accompaniments of horseradish potato puree, baby leeks, pearl onions and the famous Rochford Pinot Noir Jus worked wonderfully to draw out the robust beefiness of the Wagyu. A light searing ensured that it was lined with a thin crisp layer packed with caramelised beef flavour. The meat was intense with characteristic wagyu notes and a deep earthy richness. Texturally, it was sublime with a decadent melt in the mouth, almost buttery, consistency.
Death by chocolate 
chocolate sponge, Belgium chocolate ganache, griottine cherries, hazelnut praline powder 

The visually attractive “Death by chocolate” was a magnificent layered creation. The mixture of the light chocolate sponge, together with the intense richness of the ganache and the tartness from the griottine cherries produced a balanced and delectable dessert.
Yarra valley apple pie 
Warm individual apple pie with crème anglaise, vanilla bean ice-cream & toffee apple 

The apple pie was a decadent end to our visit. The soft centre of caramelised apples combined with the perfect biscuit pastry and decadent vanilla ice cream was simply stunning. Served with crisp toffee apple, this dessert was sublime. 
Rochford Yarra Valley's delicious menu which showcases the freshest and finest Yarra Valley produce provides the perfect excuse to escape to Victoria’s Yarra Valley and enjoy the views overlooking the vineyards.
Location: 878 - 880 Maroondah Hwy Coldstream
Times and Prices: 
  • Monday – Saturday Two course meal ($55) or Three Courses ($63)
  • Sunday and Public Holidays Two course meal ($65) or Three Courses ($73)
Phone: 03 5962 2119
Cuisine: Modern Australian, French, Seafood

Rochford Winery Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Romantic Yarra Valley rendezvous (Chandon, Chateau Yering and Rochford)

In addition to the stunning scenery, J and I love the Yarra Valley for its beautiful food and, of course, spectacular wine. 
So it was no surprise that we were back again. Our recent trip began with a visit to Chandon.

Green Point Brasserie at Domaine Chandon 

Location: 727 Maroondah Highway Coldstream
Phone: 03 9738 9200
Cuisine: Modern Australian, European

Green Point Brasserie at Domaine Chandon on Urbanspoon

The food was of a reasonably good standard. The polenta chips were a particular standout. Unfortunately, the service left much to be desired -  the waitstaff could be seen avoiding eye contact and being incredibly unresponsive. Thankfully, the beautiful surrounds more than made up for that flaw.
We soon arrived at Chateau Yering where we were staying for the weekend.

Featuring elegant fixtures and fittings throughout, this historic homestead offers luxurious accommodation. Our suite had a majestic ambience - it was sheer luxury.

Eleonore's Restaurant

Location: Chateau Yering, 42 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen
Phone: 03 9237 3333
Link: http://www.chateauyering.com.au/dining-restaurant.asp 
Cuisine: Modern Australian, International

Eleonore's Restaurant on Urbanspoon
We had a wonderful dinner at Eleanore's, which is the restaurant attached to Chateau Yering.
The menu features a wonderful selection of Modern Australian cuisine with daring flavour combinations that delight. 
Each course showcased Executive Chef, Matthew Macartney's culinary expertise. It is no surprise that the restaurant has consistently maintained its Chef Hat standard. 
Suckling Pig white onion purée, rhubarb relish, black pepper jus 
Miso-cured Kingfish nahm jim sorbet, caramelised cashew, Thai salad 
Rare Roasted Venison beetroot gel, walnut praline, apple cake, chocolate jus 
Hay Smoked Duck Breast foie gras, cherry, white peaches, vanilla jus 
Pear Tart white chocolate cremeux, lychee, mint fizz, pear cider sorbet 
Vanilla Cheesecake pistachio, macaron, honey ice-cream
Each course was well thought out and delightfully balanced. The service was warm and unobtrusive. It was certainly a memorable dining experience.

Sweetwater Café

Location: Chateau Yering Hotel, 42 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen
Phone: 03 9237 3333
Cuisine: Modern Australian

 Sweetwater Cafe on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Chateau Yering's Sweetwater Cafe...
Our trip to the Yarra Valley ended with a lovely lunch at Rochford.

Isabella's (Rochford Winery Restaurant)

Location: 878 - 880 Maroondah Highway,  Coldstream 
Phone: 03 5962 2119 
Cuisine: Modern Australian

Rochford Winery Restaurant on Urbanspoon
The restaurant has a lovely dining area with alfresco areas where you can bask in the sun. 
Freshly baked soy & linseed ciabatta with housemade smoked olive oil butter
Beef Cheek 
24 hour slow cooked Cape Grim beef cheek, horseradish, mash potato, cavelo nero, Rochford sweet red wine jus 
Lamb Back Strap Salad 
Yeringburg lamb back strap cooked to medium with semi sun dried tomatoes, Yarra Valley Persian feta, black olives, caramelized red onions, asparagus & mesclun 
Caramel Macadamia Nut Tart 
Served with Yarra Valley dairy goats milk ice cream & candied macadamia nut

The food was of a very good standard and the service was excellent!

The Yarra Valley continues to be J and I's favourite places to visit in Victoria.

Restaurant Review: Locale (De Bortoli Winery and Restaurant)

Location: De Bortoli Yarra Valley, Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek
Phone: 03 5965 2271
Link: debortoli.com.au
Cuisine: Italian, Coffee
Overall Impression: 9/10

The weather is warming up and plants are blossoming, revealing their gorgeous springtime colour. While the Yarra Valley is beautiful all year round, spring is a brilliant time to visit. Many inspiring private gardens open to the public and the National Rhododendron Gardens’ Spring Floral Display is in full bloom. In addition to the stunning scenery, J and I love the Yarra Valley for its beautiful food and, of course, spectacular wine.

But from all of the wonderful food on offer, there is only one Yarra Valley restaurant that has truly captured our hearts - Locale (the restaurant attached to the De Bortoli winery in Dixons Creek).

The dining area is spacious, elegant and exudes an air of calm. The wide windows allow the sun to trickle in and present magical views out to the De Bortoli vineyard and the broader Yarra Ranges. The sense of true Italian hospitality is palpable, echoed in the modern Italian menu prepared using high quality, fresh ingredients which are often locally sourced. The service is always friendly and efficient.

A special mention must be given to the wonderful head waiter Tony, who is always warm and


One of the things J and I look forward to when we visit De Bortoli is their bread. Whilst this may seem like a strange point of focus in a restaurant review, the bread is absolutely moreish. Fresh, fluffy and moist, it is almost cake-like in texture and is coated in a layer of salty polenta. In our opinion, it is by far the most delicious bread served at any restaurant. J could be quite happy eating just the bread for lunch, dipped in some beautiful extra virgin olive oil.

As usual, each dish was cooked perfectly. 
Pan seared scallops with pea crush and local Yarra Valley black truffle

Our scallops were plump, perfectly seared and tasted sweet and fresh. 
Parmesan and potato gnocchi with pork sausage, saffron, tomato and chilli

The gnocchi was divine and obviously made with love. As with all good gnocchi, it was soft and pillow-like, providing an ideal canvas for the intense flavour of the pork sausages and saffron. 
Pan fried dory fillet with black venere rice, broccolini, cime di rapa, fresh chilli, garlic and biodynamic olive oil

The fish skin was beautifully crisp and the flesh was deliciously moist and tender – perfectly cooked. 
Oven roasted pork belly with Italian style lentils, baby spinach and apple and rosemary chutney 

The pork belly was tender throughout and topped with a delicious layer of crispy crackling. 
Milawa free range chicken, pan roasted aromatic spices, sautéed potatoes and cavalo nero

The chicken dish was hearty and once again, cooked perfectly. 

affogato con zeppole - vanilla gelato & italian doughnuts served with de bortoli black noble 

The affogato dessert was outstanding. We were given a whole bottle of De Bortoli black noble and told to help ourselves! The Vanilla gelato was rich and indulgent and paired beautifully with the doughnuts that were crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. This is one of the best versions of an affogato we have come across. 

Biscotti and coffee were, as always, a perfect end to the meal. 

Every now and then a restaurant manages to capture a place in your heart. Locale is such a place. More than just the high quality of the food and wines on offer, Locale transports you to another world where all of the stresses of modern, city living evaporate and life is a lot simpler. Despite having eaten at Locale countless times already, it continues to draw us back time and again and has rightfully claimed a spot in our favourite restaurants of all time.

Locale at De Bortoli Vineyard on Urbanspoon
De Bortoli Winery and Restaurant on Urbanspoon