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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Head for the Hills, Coldstream Hills

This post is partially about the Coldstream Brewery, and partly about my family. A few weeks ago, my mother, her husband and I enjoyed a beautiful Saturday lunch out at Coldstream, in the gorgeous Yarra Valley, and we were there for a very special reason.

My littlest brother (who is twice the size of me) had recently started at Coldstream as their apprentice chef. Least of all to say, I'm pretty darn proud of the kid. The kid who used to sit in front of the oven waiting for dinner to cook, the kid who would walk 10 paces behind the rest of my family because he was too busy eating to walk faster, and the only person in my family other than me who knows what elBulli is.

My littlest brother has had a bit of a rough ride, like me he took a little longer than everyone else to decide what to do with himself for a living. While we all knew he would be a chef, it took him a little longer to work it out. Walking into his restaurant and seeing him looking so tall and proud in his chef whites, frizzy hair escaping out from under his little white cap, big smile wrapped across his face, I can honestly say I have never been so proud of a member of my family before.

Our waitress Wendy seemed to belong in that restaurant as much as my brother, there was such a homely feel to the place and exposed wooden beams, raw brickwork and a big open fire added to the welcoming country atmosphere. The service was not text book perfect, but it was warm, friendly and inviting, and truth be told almost outshone the food in its excellence. Although I am sure, we were, as the chef's family, paid extra special attention to.

Most of the menu was on the daily specials blackboard, and otherwise split up into a style that is gaining in popularity, small and large share plates. None in our party could go past an entrée of lemongrass broth with scallop and crab dumplings (10), which was superb in its simplicity, and potentially made a significant contribution to lessening my hangover, for which I was most grateful.

Now, the kid is responsible for the pizza section, so we were of course obliged to order at least one. Pictured left is the mushroom and tallegio pizza (16.50) alongside a dish my mother ordered, which I didn't pay any attention to, so therefore know nothing about. Fish cakes of some description spring to mind, however I am likely wrong.

For my main I ordered pan seared king fish on celeriac puree with Sicilian salsa (27), mostly because I was desperate to know what makes a salsa Sicilian (sultanas, capers, parsley and tiny globe tomatoes apparently). The sweetness of the salsa was a perfect fit to the natural sweetness of the fish, and I was happy with my choice.

Although I am unbelievably biased towards this venue for obvious reason, it was not without fault, as very few restaurants are. The coffee was of a low quality, a table near us remained uncleared for the entire time we were there, and Mum's desert arrived without a spoon. But in the grand scheme of things, restaurants like this are far between in regional areas, and I am grateful to have options for great locally sourced food, at low prices, so far away from the city.

Being named "Brewery" is a pretty good indication there is a bit of beer about (although at the time the thought of any more beer made my stomach turn). The restaurant extends to a cellar door of sorts, with bar snacks available through the day, as well as tastings of the hand-crafted beers and tours of the on-site brewery by arrangement.

There are regular special events on offer, with a Fine Swine and Wine dinner scheduled for the 15 July - with three courses of pork themed meals and matched wine for $50 - that would be hard to go past if I lived at least in the same state.

Coldstream Hills Brewery is run by mates, and it feels that way. Like four blokes got together over a few beers and said "hey, wouldn't it be really awesome to own a brewery". And that's exactly what happened. What a cracking idea boys. And look after my brother...

Coldstream Brewery
694 Maroondah Hwy
Coldstream Victoira

T: 03 9739 1794

Mon-Tues: Closed
Wed-Sun: 11am until late


Chow and Chatter said...

this place looks great love your blog rebecca

Lisa said...

This post gave me a really nice feeling and I love the history behind your brother's career path. He makes a beautiful pizza, matched only by your description of the food.