Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort and Spa in the heart of Victoria’s Yarra Valley recently announced the appointment of a new Head Chef, Chef Graham Taute – who brings with him decades of experience at leading Australian restaurants and resorts.
As we sat in the dining room, perusing the new menu – explained to us by a friendly and affable waiter, we noticed the complete change in dining experience from our previous visits. The service levels have increased dramatically and the lunch menu, unlike its predecessor, focusses on simple food done well on a predominantly Italian-influenced menu. If you’re looking for molecular gastronomy you’re not going to find it here.
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 dining room is marshalled by excellent service staff who are highly efficient, very knowledgeable and pleasantly friendly and humble.
The focal point of the restaurant remains the outstanding wines. Known for their ability to age, we enjoyed an excellent bottle of the 2000 Balgownie Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that had been highly recommended to us.
A sensational wine, it exhibited classic cabernet sauvignon characteristics of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit held together with seamlessly integrated oak. With tannins that had mellowed with age and a touch of chocolate, this wine was the perfect accompaniment for our entrees and mains.
Tasting Plate of Local Salmon
House Cold smoked salmon on buckwheat blini, Yea Dairy crème fraiche, Asian inspired gravlax soy mayonnaise, house hot smoked salmon salsa verde
The tasting plate of salmon was an enlivening start to our lunch at Rae’s. Boasting a lovely pink colour, we enjoyed the house hot smoked salmon the most. It had a rich depth of flavour - its subtle smokiness allowing the underlying taste of the salmon to be enjoyed. The finishing touch of the salsa verde, completed the dish.
Selected local mushrooms, house hot smoked chicken Viognier cream reduction
The gnocchi was a beautifully rich dish which was highlighted by the light gnocchi.
White Rabbit beer battered fish
The White Rabbit beer battered fish served with chips was one of the best examples of fish and chips we have sampled. The batter encasing the succulent Rockling had a slightly heavier consistency than the benchmark tempura batter but was similarly crispy. The chips that accompanied the fish were uniformly crunchy and exceedingly moreish.
Vine “Smoked” Prime M.S.A Porterhouse
Hand cut fries, green beans, Balgownie 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.
Caramelised condensed milk and honeycomb semifreddo
Honeycomb crumble, strawberry and pineapple sage salad
For dessert, the caramelised condensed milk and honeycomb semifreddo was a delight. The honeycomb pieces possessed the right level of sweetness and crunch, and provided a pleasant topping for the smooth semifreddo.
New Head Chef, Graham Taute combines a mix of talent to deliver a casual lunch experience with a menu that features high quality Yarra Valley produce amidst beautiful surrounds and great wine.