Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bella Vedere

View over the Yarra Valley from Bella Vedere

Adjacent to the cellar door of Badger Creek winery at 874 Maroondah Hwy Coldstream, only a few K's from Healesville this restaurant serves breakfast and a la carte lunch Wednesday to Sunday and set menu dinner Friday and Saturday.
Chef and part owner Gary Cooper and his business partner Tim Sawyer were both working for this Sunday lunch. Despite the name and the restored Vespa in the entrance the place is not very Italian. The food is farmhouse with aspirations. The wine list modest featuring some local and some more distant Australian wines.
There is an excellent bakehouse associated with the restaurant and they also run a cooking school.
The large hand written menu with 3 appetizers and 7 main courses to choose from looked appealing.
We all had the double baked sweetcorn souffle with whiting on young salad leaves and walnut dressing($16) The souffle was light, sweet and delicate with very good flavour.
The rest of the dish totally bland. It was also served on a plate that was much too large The penne with zucchinie and ricotta was small for a main dish and very expensive at $28. Despite advertised as with olive oil, cracked pepper and parmesan it was sadly underseasoned and we had to ask for salt and pepper as it was not on the table.
A Navarine of lamb is supposedly a French stew with onions, turnips, potato and herbs. In this case the offering, cooked in a bag to retain the juices,
was a surprise lamb shank on a bed of mashed potato incorporating some other unidentifiable vegetable. The meat was tender as can be, falling off the bone and if only it had been well seasoned would have been wonderful. Also at $30 two shanks would not have been unreasonable.
There was a good range of cakes to choose from
and we tested the passion fruit custard tart, a pear and date cake, and a prune pear and apple (I think) cake served with lashings of cream. All suffered from a lack of sweetness though the textures and appearance were impressive.
Price: Prices have risen 50% in the last two years and there is a 1.5% surcharge for credit cards so this is now quite expensive
Comments: The waiters, all wearing black vests, were very busy so anything different involved considerable delay. There was a very rough olive oil on the table with quite a bitter finish. For example butter or a glass of lemonade took at least 10 to 15 minutes to arrive. Still they were trying hard and good humoured under trying circumstances. The restaurant features an open kitchen
but few tables have good views of either the kitchen or the countryside. I had a look at a few recent menus they looked interesting and adventurous. Perhaps we were a bit unlucky. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt!
Score: 13.5/20

2 comments:

SG said...

The review above is not a once off. Occassionaly an interesting dish will appear on the menu (tongue)but quality is not consistent. The view is beautiful if you are lucky enough to get a window seat, bakery items are lovely, the restaurant too busy and service attitude aloof.

Elliot and Sandra said...

We've been back a few more times since this review. Looking over it there is an obvious need for editing which I might do later. There is one factual error, or change. The surcharge for credit cards evidently only lasted a week.
We enjoyed an outstanding lunch today, 30/07/11, which we will review very soon.