We’re sitting in Provenance restaurant admiring the simplified new interior and listening to the playlist. Chef Michael Ryan puts as much effort into his music as he does the food on the plate. Velvet Underground. R.E.M. Cowboy Junkies. Smooth, rich sounds of the late 20th century purring sweetly into this grand old bank building.
The new cool green walls, moss green carpet and minimalist decoration by Meme Designs highlights the soaring ceiling and high Victorian arched windows, and makes a suitable blank canvas for the remarkably delicious food and thoughtfully designed menu.
Michael is an ardent Nipponophile making pilgrimage to the bars, ryokan, izakaya and restaurants of Japan at least once a year, sometimes taking a paying entourage. The meal could start with a small dish of just set silken tofu that turns to a rich nutty mouthful with the savoury back note of aged bonito and sharp tang from mustard greens.
There could be kingfish sashimi with local ponzu – Japanese citrus and local sunflower oil followed by hand-diced smoked wallaby rolled with Japanese fish sauce for a umami hit, some egg yolk dressing for a smooth texture and cured mullet row for a background hum of decadence. Michael is a master of umami and uses techniques such as dry ageing his beef onglet and free-range duck to intensify flavour. He uses fermented sauces, fermented rice and slow reductions to add layers of flavour.
Provenance, with its recent face lift, continues to be one of the most critically-acclaimed restaurants in regional Victoria. It was recently re-awarded its two Good Food Guide chefs hats for the ninth year in a row and is definitely one of the Essentials team’s favourites.
86 Ford Street, Beechworth
Tel 03 5728 1786