Sunday, February 03, 2013

Isabella's at Rochford Wines

A Day on the Green, Rochford Wines

How did y'all spend your Australia Day weekend? Did you BBQ? Did you Big Day Out? As for us, we headed across to Rochford Winery in the Yarra Valley, where we'd been invited to see Elvis Costello perform at A Day on The Green and enjoy lunch at the in-house restaurant, Isabella's.

Isabella's at Rochford
878-880 Maroondah Hwy
Coldstream, VIC 3770
Ph: (03) 5962-2119
Rochford Winery Restaurant on Urbanspoon


We've actually visited Isabella's twice now, once for A Day on the Green, and once for lunch shortly after they launched in October last year with Chef Ciaran Butler at the helm. (Disclosure: this was also an invitation for a complimentary meal).  Let's start with the lunch!

Isabella's restaurant is a large, light-filled space adjacent to the cellar door. On the Saturday afternoon that we visited, it was full of families and groups of daytrippers and tourists. Due to the volume of customers, I was a little worried that the service would be slow, but I'm happy to say my fears were unfounded - we were really impressed by how efficient the service was and how quickly our food was brought out.
Isabella's
As you might expect from a destination winery restaurant, meals tend toward the pricey side (approx $34 for mains), but the portions are generous. Gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian options are clearly marked, but there didn't seem to be many options for vegetarians (one entree, no mains, a few sharing dishes like a vegetarian antipasto platter) - so perhaps it's worth calling ahead if you are visiting with vegetarians.

Freshly baked soy and linseed ciabatta with housemade smoked olive oil butter - $4.00
Normally I have issues with restaurants charging extra for bread, but when it's warm soy and linseed ciabatta, baked in house with smoked olive oil butter - it's definitely worth it! After the meal, we had a chat with Chef Ciaran Butler, who, despite running a big operation that needs to cater to a variety of tastes, still enjoys flexing his creative muscles with molecular gastronomy techniques. A great example is the smoked olive oil butter which is not actually butter, but a kind of solidified olive oil. The smoky flavour comes from old grape vines - Chef Ciaran uses the old vines to smoke different ingredients at the restaurant, and the resultant white ash to flavour the olive oil butter. He showed us some of the powder, and it's really intense stuff - amazing!

Rabbit and pistachio terrine - deconstructed piccalilli - $14
I greatly enjoyed the rabbit and pistachio terrine, with the meaty richness of the terrine being offset perfectly by the crunchy-sour vegetables.

Ocean Trout - pan roasted fillet of Tasmanian ocean trout, asparagus, peas, broad beans, jamon serrano ham & baby potatoes - $34.00
I thought that I was going for a light option ordering ocean trout, but the dish was actually quite substantial, especially with the addition of jamon serrano pieces and a dark savoury jus. I really enjoyed the crisp skin on the trout as well.

Steak Frites - 350g grain fed yearling scotch fillet, with French fries, hollandaise sauce - $34.00
Sandra's steak was cooked just as requested (i.e. very well done), and the crisp battered onion rings were a nice touch - it would have been even better if the hollandaise sauce had been served warm rather than cold.

French apple custard rose - served with caramelized crumbs, Iranian fairy floss & tonka bean ice-cream - $14.00
I thought the presentation of this tart was just so pretty! Beneath the pretty apple slices was a creamy custard housed in a crisp shortcrust case. My favourite part, of course, were the crunchy caramelized crumbs - I love the contrasting crunch!

Callebaut Chocolate Truffle with Sea Salt - served with salted caramel, chocolate dust, freeze dried raspberry - $14.00
The chocolate truffle was a lot lighter than it looked - rather than the dense ganache I was expecting, it was close to a light mousse, further brightened with the pops of salt, chocolate cookie crumbs and freeze dried raspberry. Very nice.

English Breakfast Tea with a Charlie's Cookie passionfruit melting moment
Yes, it's just a cup of tea, but it came with a Charlie's Cookies melting moment!

Cellar door

Wine tasting
And on Australia Day, we were back for the "A Day on the Green" concert to see Elvis Costello!

Rochford Wines host three Days on the Green each summer, with different musical acts. (The next one is Neil Finn and Paul Kelly on 23rd February!) There are a few different options you can go for - there's general admission (bring your own picnic blanket and seats), various seating options, premium general admission (tapas included), and the one we enjoyed: the concert and dining package. This includes a three-course meal at Isabella's; wine, beer and soft drink; indoor bathroom facilities (yay!); and a private outdoor patio from which you get a great view of the stage.
Seating area for the Concert and Dining patrons, Tex Perkins
Lineup

Here's the lineup! The meal was served in stages between 3 and 6pm, and served in alternating courses (like at a wedding). We popped out in between courses to watch the bands.

Crumbed Camembert Cheese - Crumbed and fried camembert served with balsamic
Deep fried cheese. Need I say more?  Deelicious! Check out those gooey molten innards...
Gooey molten cheese

The first course was a choice of chicken pâté or oysters.
Chicken pâté - Liver pâté, pickles and toasted ciabatta bread
How cute is the presentation? Totally instagrammable! The smooth pâté was complimented by a lovely fruity puree (perhaps redcurrant-based?), and served with crisp ciabatta croutons.

Half Dozen Coffin Bay Oysters - With shallot & sherry vinaigrette
I had the oysters - plump, fresh little things, with a light and tangy vinaigrette. Impressive.

For Sandra, who doesn't eat seafood and isn't a big fan of pate, the restaurant kindly put together a fresh little salad for her.
Salad of semi sundried tomatoes, Yarra Valley Persian feta, black olive, caramelised red onions and leaves
Both mains - confit ocean trout and steak - were well received around the table, but we did have a giggle at the big disparity in serving size between the petite ocean trout....
Confit Ocean Trout Salad - slow-cooked ocean trout with semi-sundried tomatoes, Yarra Valley Persian feta, black olives, caramelised red onions, asparagus and leaves
...and the mammoth steak!
Scotch Fillet 300g - 300g Cape Grim Scotch fillet, sous vide to medium with roasted rosemary potato & seasonal vegetables, Rochford Pinot jus
At first we thought they might do fish for the ladies and steak for the gentleman, but there was no such gender inequality - thank goodness, because I was sure in the mood for steak! It was really hearty, and very tasty, with a great charred crust.

Blood Orange Panna Cotta - served with blood orange sorbet and orange tuille
The panna cotta was a very pretty dessert, and I thought the refreshing blood orange sorbet was very nice, but the chocolate dessert was definitely my favourite.

Callebaut chocolate truffle with sea salt - served with salted caramel, chocolate dust, freeze-dried raspberrry
I just wanted to point out the perfect raspberries - so plump and pretty! (Just like when I went to Pierre Herme in Paris, I was left wondering where on earth these restaurants and patisseries source those perfect raspberries!)

Phew! And that was the food. I did mention above that there was an outdoor patio area for the "concert and dining" patrons - but in addition to that, there's also a reserved seating area close to the stage... and later that evening we managed to get really close to the man himself!
Elvis Costello
Squeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!


Sarah and Sandra ate at Isabella's Restaurant and attended A Day on the Green as guests of Rochford Winery and Tyrrell PR.

Rochford Winery Restaurant on Urbanspoon

3 comments:

Hannah said...

Ahaha! If only they had gendered the meals; I would've had so much fun posting sarcastic comments about that. ;)

Gorgeous meals!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a great way to spend Australia Day! There was a lot of good food and you got so close to Elvis C.-wow! :o

Daisy@Nevertoosweet said...

Perfect way to celebrate Australia day :) I didn't celebrate at all this year cuz I was overseas lol all i saw were stupid stands in supermarkets in Hong Kong selling Tim Tams :)

Everything at Isabellas looks amazing and I never knew that there was such a nice winery in Cold Stream which isn't that far away from me ~ Another place to put down on my ever growing this!