Lunch at the Healesville Hotel

Saturday, well at least the morning, was a perfect day in Melbourne.  Sunny, around 26c and quite still.  A perfect day for a visit to the Yarra Valley really.  That is, of course, unless we were going to the Yarra Valley on Sunday, where we awoke to 90% humidity, rain, and a somehow stifling 18c.  Melbourne.  Or at least the rainy (300mm I heard) summer of 2011 in Melbourne.

Anyway, the natural beauty and clean air of the Yarra Valley never ceases to make me happy on arrival, regardless of the clouds covering the hills that define the valley.  Today's visit was to the less fancy front bar at the Healesville Hotel, the posher restaurant being adjacent to this room.  The kitchen though, as far as I can tell, is the same.

We started with their homemade dips, which remain on song: a lovely combination of taramasalata, smoky eggplant and tzatziki, though perenially served with too little bread.  Good dip needs a lot of bread.  Or at least that's what anyone other than a medical practitioner might think.  I spied a Hoddles Creek cabernet on the reasonably interesting wine list, which I had been wanting to give a go for some time.  I was not disappointed: Hoddle Creek's 2006 cabernet sauvignon is excellent (86 points).

The main and dessert truly shone.  For the main, a twice cooked Yeringberg lamb forequarter roast was simply sensational, with that flaky, melt in the mouth texture suggesting that an excellent chef is onboard.   Potatoes, mint and fresh peas surrounded it, together with a yoghurt sauce.  Sunday roast.  The accompanying wine was Oak Ridge's Over the Shoulder 2006 cabernet merlot, which proved to be very pleasant, but was comfortably shaded by Hoodle Creek's wine of the same year (83 points).  For dessert, a K&W chocolate hazelnut brownie was simply delicious, with a brilliant melty, flaky and moist texture.  Almost unshareable.

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