Saturday, April 3, 2010
Bella Vedere Cucina
874 Maroondah Hwy
Coldstream VIC 3770
Over the years like most people, I think I have developed a stereotype in my head as to what the ideal French rural restaurant should look like. Pasted together from various travel and cooking shows it is in the wine regions overlooking the vines serving generously portioned rustic dishes.
The problem with this mental stereotype is that it is at best hard to get to. First of all to get to this stereotype you need to get to rural France, from there you need to find this vineyard setting that is delivering knockout food not tired complacent food. My first hand experience of Reims was that the champagne was good, but apart from the places starred by the Michelin folk, the balance was at best mediocre.
Anyway, why do I bring this up? Well it would be because I have encountered the closest thing to my mental vision at Bella Vedere in the Yarra Valley on the outskirts of Melbourne.
Bella Vedere is an interesting set up in that unlike most restaurants in a winery, it is not a winery restaurant, but rather a restaurant in a winery. Why is this important? Well rather than being beholden to a winelist that is the hosts label and contriving dishes using the wine that is made on premise it is free to do it's own thing.
In to it's fifth year of operation, Bella Vedere is well in to it's prime, joined at the hip with the Badger Brook cellar door it has an airy welcoming presence. The polished boards and mainly green walled interior balances country charm and pleasant dining area very well.
Settling it is easy to see why this restaurant is well praised. The waiting staff are all first class, polite, efficient and move about effortlessly and know when to pay attention to your table.
The menu which is set daily is quite long, both in choices and description and has several dishes that appeal making decision time very difficult. The menu gives you a sense of you know what you will get unlike the recent trend of "Beef, carrot, celery, tomato" which leaves you thinking what the hell will that be?
HERVEY BAY SCALLOPS BAKED IN GENEVE BUTTER OF SHALLOTS,
RED WINE VINEGAR, PARSLEY, TARRAGON & ANCHOVIES WITH LEMON
To start with we had the Hervey Bay scallops to share, 5 perfectly cooked (yes just a fraction rare in the centre) that had me saying "The only mistake I made in ordering this was ordering this to share".
L: DUCK CASSOLET WITH PORK, PORK SAUSAGE, PANCETTA, HARRICOT BEANS, TOMATO & GARLIC BRAISED WITH DUCK FAT, TOPPED WITH SOURDOUGH CRUMBS
R: RARE BREED PORK BELLY, BRAISED WITH SAGE, GARLIC, CELERY, TOMATO, CARROT & PINEAPPLE SERVED WITH A SUCCOTASH OF WHITEBEAN, SWEETCORN & CREME FRECHE
Mains were also a delight, I ordered a Cassolet, it was well made with tender pieces of Duck, pork and sausage. The only gripe here is perhaps a bit more duck would have been nice but overall was a very satisfactory dish. My wife ordered the pork belly which unlike the pork belly on most degustation menus was a solid fist sized serving of pork with a delicious braised sauce. The white bean succotash could have had more tender beans, but with all the meat, was merely a garnish.
L: BAKED LIME TART
R: FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
Feeling very full, we ummed and aahed about deserts, we decided to indulge and had the flourless chocolate cake and lemon tart. If there was a disappointment to be had, it was the deserts. The pastry on the lime tart was a bit soggy and the chocolate cake a bit dry. We also felt at $16 per desert that this was really our of character with the rest of the meal that was well prepared and very well priced.
So overall how would I rate this? Definitely worth going to if you are in the Yarra Valley, the entree and main courses were excellent, service and pricing hard to fault just watch out for dessert.
Bella Vedere - 13.5/20
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