From Mansfield to Beechworth these are some of the best places to eat and drink in Victoria’s High Country.
Eldorado Road Cellar Door, Beechworth, Victoria
Visiting Eldorado Road’s newly expanded Beechworth cellar door and cantina is a destination to underline on your High Country itinerary’s list. A tasting of their ultra premium wines, local and imported artisan cheeses and charcuterie presents a gourmand’s dream, all delivered effortlessly in a relaxed and somewhat micro storefront tastings room and courtyard eatery complete with charcoal grill.
The winery’s Beechworth cellar door is a quaint yet beautiful space featuring a long timber tastings bench, marble café tables, bentwood chairs and a cosy fireplace that warms you on entry. There’s a fantastic wine accompaniment’s menu being put together by winemaker Ben Dahlenburg’s partner Ellie Stringer (ex European Group). Ellie is no stranger to matching premium wines to fabulous flavours and has curated a cheese and charcuterie list that’s so good you’ll drop Instagramming to indulge in the food only to realise you’re missing out on the wine.
Must try: Eldorado Road 2017 Chardonnay, made with a 50/50 blend of wild and cultivated yeast, gently whole bunch pressed and fermented on full lees in French oak barriques.
Eldorado Road Cellar Door
Cellar Door Open: 11am-7pm Friday to Saturday; 11am-4pm Sunday
48 Ford St, Beechworth, Victoria
Tel 0400 035 659
Mansfield Coffee Merchant, Mansfield, Victoria
One of High Country Victoria’s most respected casual eateries is Mansfield Coffee Merchant. It began as a specialty coffee roaster in 2014 by owner Mat Picone. No longer a mere coffee roaster and café, it today has also firmly established itself as a regional food cafe/restaurant icon under the keen focus of Canadian chef Cody Louis.
Must try: Charcuterie plate comprising venison salami, pork capicola, Strathbogie Ranges-produced Sevens Creek Wagyu bresaola and sides of house made pickles: cucumber, onion and zucchini are smeared with gentle warming spices. Drink offerings are well thought out with a cocktail menu featuring a range of classics – including, of course, a cracker coffee martini – but also a range of more complex aromatic offerings. In terms of hard-to-find local and fine Australian wines, the list is many and varied, and put together with skill; including the high-James Halliday-point scoring Mount Terrible Pinot Noir from the nearby hamlet of Jamieson.
Mansfield Coffee Merchant
23 Highett St, Mansfield, Victoria
Tel 03 5779 1703
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.
Chef Michael Ryan 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.
Must try: Cured garfish and its fried bones, followed by celeriac baked in hay with spelt pilaf, pickled scape and walnut oil.
86 Ford Street, Beechworth
Tel 03 5728 1786
Ox and Hound Bistro, Beechworth, Victoria
Beechworth’s Ox and Hound is a real local bistro, the place where you can dine several times a week or drop in for an exceptionally well-prepared meal when you’re visiting town.
At the heart of every great bistro is a dedicated chef. Ox and Hound’s Sean Ford is the type of chef who cares deeply about where his food comes from, going as far as growing a lot of his veg himself. Together with partner and front-of-house manager Lauren Heidke, they tend a two thirds of an acre block from which they grow fragrant summer veg and winter greens. Sean handmakes menu staples such as pasta, sometimes twice daily, as the dining rooms demands. The menu is stacked with classic French bistro fare: cheese soufflé, chicken galantine, trout cooked in butter, perfectly rare duck breast, steak with carrot purée with perhaps a pear bavarois or cheese platter to finish. The service is perfectly paced, not too spaced out and not too speedy: so conducive to a pleasant lunch or dinner.
Must try: Tolpuddle goats cheese soufflé with a salad of apple, celery and walnuts, followed by the house classic hand rolled potato gnocchi, gorgonzola cream, nutmeg, parmesan.
Ox and Hound Bistro
Lunch Fri-Sun, Dinner Fri-Tue
52 Ford Street, Beechworth
Tel 03 5728 2123
Ros Ritchie Wines at Magnolia House, Mansfield, Victoria
Veteran Mansfield winemaker Ros Ritchie recently opened a new Cellar Door and Function Centre at historic Magnolia House in Mansfield, Victoria.
Named for the 40-foot Magnolia Grandiflora tree originally planted on the property in the 1880s, Magnolia House is a wonderful and rare-to-Australia, architectural gem. Constructed in 1908 by Harry Amor, then owner of the Mansfield Courier, the property is actually an American Folk Victorian kit home that was transported to Port Melbourne by sea as ballast and then on to Mansfield by steam train.
Offering a unique venue for sampling her premium cool climate wines which include the James Halliday 96 point 2015 Gewürztraminer and 93 point 2015 Riesling. After a long wait, fans of Ros’ wines can now sample wines in this stunning centrally located Mansfield venue.
Ros sources her fruit from a range of regional growers as well as the Barwite vineyard just outside Mansfield, in which she is a shareholder. Her label launched its first vintage in 2009. After producing wines for the family business Delatite Wines for a little over 25 years, Ros decided to go out on her own to perfect a collection of ultra premium wines.
Must try: The beautifully fragrant and softly textured 2015 Nebbiolo featuring classic Nebbiolo tar and roses aromatics; and the 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé – bursting with sweet aromas of strawberries, stewed rhubarb and sour cherries; plus of course the epic cool climate whites: Gewürztraminer andRiesling.
Ros Ritchie Wines
190 Mt Buller Rd, Mansfield, Victoria
Tel 0448 900 541