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Innocent Bystander, Giant Steps, Healesville

15 May

Highlight – Delicious food

Lowlight – High noise levels due to the packed venue

Sashimi, grape, beetroot and avocado salad

Sashimi, grape, beetroot and avocado salad

Duck and mushroom pie with carrot mash

Duck and mushroom pie with carrot mash

Calabrese salami, san marzano tomato, oregano & buffalo mozzarella

Calabrese salami, san marzano tomato, oregano & buffalo mozzarella

FOOD?

We had a late morning appointment in the Yarra Valley so we decided to book lunch afterwards at Innocent Bystander since we would be close by. There was a large variety of dishes to decide on, including tapas, pizzas, “non-pizzas”, breads and cheeses, plus an extensive wine list.

When the dishes arrived they looked amazing, the colours were vibrant and further accentuated by the sunlight. To start we chose the fresh sashimi salad combined with beetroot, grapes and avocado. It was perfect to get our taste buds going.

For mains we chose the duck and mushroom pie and the calabrese pizza. When the pie was first sliced open it was moist and full of flavour. There was a decent amount of duck which was complimented with the carrot mash.

As my eyes are bigger than my tummy I decided to order the calabrese salami pizza all to myself. I did not come close to finishing it! Their pizza bases are 100% organic sourdough and are cooked in a wood fire oven to obtain a crisp base. Even though the ingredients were simple they were of a high quality to make the juicy topping. It was slightly on the oily side although that may have been due to the salami.

Next time I’ll have to try the truffle and parmesan frites as I’ve heard rave reviews. Plus I love anything to do with potatoes!

SERVICE?

I thought the service was fine, a bit slow but probably because the place is constantly so busy.

AMBIENCE?

It was a beautiful sunny day so we decided to sit outside on the benches for lunch. Inside the restaurant it is mega busy and buzzing with people. We were lucky with the weather and got to sit away from the noisy crowd.

VALUE?

A little on the pricey side but since I don’t visit Healesville very often it was worth it. I would recommend visiting if you haven’t already been.

BOOKINGS?

Bookings are accepted and recommended as the venue can get extremely busy. When we arrived for our booking there was a long line of customers waiting to be seated. I overheard some people being told they would have to wait for a while as the restaurant was at capacity. I’d definitely come back here next time I’m in the area.

8

out of 10!

Innocent Bystander / Giant Steps
336 Maroondah Highway, Healesville VIC 3777
03 5962 6111 

Giant Steps / Innocent Bystander Winery on Urbanspoon

Vines Restaurant at Helen’s Hill, Coldstream

29 Apr

Highlight – Breathtaking vineyard views

Lowlight – Food was a let down

“Vines” Yarra Valley Platter - A taste of the Yarra Valley & surrounding regions

“Vines” Yarra Valley Platter - A taste of the Yarra Valley & surrounding regions

Eye fillet wrapped in sopressa served on a bed of baked semolina cake, and a warm mixed pepper salsa topped with olive tapenade

Eye fillet wrapped in sopressa served on a bed of baked semolina cake, and a
warm mixed pepper salsa topped with olive tapenade

Butter puff pastry filled a with spiced chicken farce served on a cucumber and yoghurt sauce

Butter puff pastry filled a with spiced chicken farce served on a cucumber and yoghurt sauce

FOOD?

We came here for a Saturday lunch and decided to start our meal with the “Vines” Yarra Valley antipasto platter and two glasses of the Helen’s Hill Ingram Road Brut. Each item was presently neatly on the plate and I enjoyed each mouthful, especially the cold meats. It was a great beginning to the day but unfortunately it ended there.

There was a lack of variety of mains on the menu with only five choices including one vegetarian option. Since my other half chose the eye fillet and I wasn’t keen on the vegie tart or lamb skewer, I was stuck with the choice between the baked flat head fillet and the chicken puff pastry. I decided to go with the latter. The pastry pouch contained a decent amount of chicken farce which was slightly on the dry side and further worsened by being placed in a pile of unappetizing yoghurt. I wasn’t fond of the chicken and yoghurt combination which resulted in me consistently trying to scrape the yoghurt off the meat.

In regards to the eye fillet, we ordered this medium rare but it came out medium. The olive tapenade was way too salty and when combined with the sopressa it was a salt overdose! Everything else on the dish was quite average.

SERVICE?

Service was lovely and very accommodating considering we had to change our booking a couple of times. Staff were very attentive and polite.

AMBIENCE?

With floor to ceiling windows overlooking luscious vineyards, the views were nothing less than picturesque. The tables were very spread out from one another giving the room a more spacious feel.

VALUE?

With the Entertainment Book mains are buy one get one free, otherwise mains average around $30 for lunch and up to $38 for dinner. Considering the standard of food, I don’t think the meals are worth the price tag.

BOOKINGS?

Although the restaurant wasn’t very busy when we went, bookings are recommended and can be made online via their website or by phone.

5

out of 10!

Vines Restaurant at Helen’s Hill
16 Ingram Road, Coldstream VIC 3770
03 9739 0222

Entertainment Book

2-4-1 main course up to $35 value

Vines Restaurant at Helen’s Hill on Urbanspoon

Salix Restaurant and Bistro, Willow Creek Winery, Merricks North

20 Mar

Highlight – Assiette of desserts

Lowlight – Tiny servings

FOOD?

Due to the popularity of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Salix restaurant was fully booked on Sunday for lunch so we decided to dine at the bistro instead.

My best friend and I overestimated the travel time and we ended up arriving half an hour early to the winery. As such we decided to enjoy some wine tasting while we waited for the other guests to arrive. For $5 we sampled six different wines from the Willow Creek Vineyard. My favourite was the 2006 Willow Creek Vineyard Brut, made of equal parts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

We chose the 2 course ‘Express Lunch’ which gave us two options for both entrée and main.

To start I ordered the beetroot cured ocean trout which reminded me of the salmon I had at Livingroom in Malvern. I was hoping it would be similar but unfortunately the beetroot flavour didn’t really come through in the trout, maybe because the portion was so small I couldn’t really taste it. The highlight of the dish for me was the rillette with a squeeze of lemon juice, which had just the right amount of each ingredient to balance out the flavours.

For mains, the slow cooked lamb shoulder was super tender and I just wanted to have more but there were only two mouth fulls on the plate. I wasn’t fond of the polenta, it was quite bland and I would have much preferred a simple mash instead. My dining companions were pleased with the four pieces of delicate gnocchi pillows but again, could have had a handful more.

Ocean trout, beetroot cured & rillette, ruby grapefruit, almond & artichoke salad

Ocean trout, beetroot cured & rillette, ruby grapefruit, almond & artichoke salad

Pan fried potato gnocchi, Swiss browns, meat balls, porcini crumbs

Pan fried potato gnocchi, Swiss browns, meat balls, porcini crumbs

Slow cooked pressed lamb shoulder, truffled white polenta, cherry tomato jus

Slow cooked pressed lamb shoulder, truffled white polenta, cherry tomato jus

I was still a little hungry after mains so was super keen for dessert. We ordered one platter of desserts and one pavlova to share between us six girls. I’m not a huge fan of pavlova but I enjoyed this, it was both light and fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. This was topped with a musk flavoured fairy floss and a pear and apple compote.

When the assiette of desserts came to the table it looked divine and I couldn’t wait to dig in! I loved the rich chocolate ice cream with bursts of honey cubes, the vanilla crème brulee with coffee poached pear, and the honeycomb bavarois with peach and plum compote. I’m very much a sweet tooth so it was all yummy to me!

Pavlova with pear & apple compote

Pavlova with pear & apple compote

Assiette of desserts

Assiette of desserts

SERVICE?

We had no complaints with the service, the staff were pleasant and friendly. However, timing between courses was a bit slow and we didn’t get our tea and coffees til a while after our dessert. It would have been nice to enjoy them together.

AMBIENCE?

With floor to ceiling windows, the dining areas looked out towards the vineyards. The sun was out so we were fortunate to enjoy the amazing views.

VALUE?

Our choice of the 2 Course Express Lunch was superb value. For $35 each we received a choice between two dishes per course plus a glass of wine and tea or coffee to finish. For an additional $10, we had the choice of ordering the pavlova (note that there was only one option for dessert). On top of this we were able to use our Entertainment Card to receive 25% off the lot! Considering this, the serving sizes were forgivable.

BOOKINGS?

Best to make a booking as the restaurant and bistro can get quite busy on the weekends. Also if you’re travelling over an hour from Melbourne to eat then you wouldn’t want to take the risk in not getting a table!

6

out of 10!

Salix Restaurant & Bistro
Willow Creek Winery
166 Balnarring Road, Merricks North Vic 3926
03 5989 7640 
 

Entertainment Book

25% up to $40

Salix Restaurant at Willow Creek Winery on Urbanspoon

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