6 of the Top Eats in the Yarra Valley
There is no doubt that the Yarra Valley is recognised as one of Victoria’s best regions for all things wine.
For those looking for a little more indulgence of the gastronomic variety however, the food scene here is just as remarkable. Not only can you explore the vineyards and cellar doors of some of the top wineries in the state; you can then settle down and revel in a tight belt-busting meal. It is a win-win. To get you started, we have handpicked six of the best restaurants in the Yarra Valley – all are perfect for grazing an afternoon away at. Try to get through this without your mouth watering or stomach grumbling – we dare you.
Zonzo Estate's Restaurant
Image: Zonzo Estate, Facebook.
The restaurant at Zonzo Estate serves up authentic Italian fare, made with produce freshly picked from the garden. All dishes are prepared as if for their own family. A wooden seat at one of the long tables inside the main restaurant makes a beautiful dining perch in cooler temperatures (especially if you can angle a pew that faces out towards the vineyard), but when the sun is shining it’s hard to go past sitting outdoors. The verdant lawn is the perfect space for kids to stretch their legs – any grass stains are small price to pay for a lazy afternoon nibbling antipasti and sipping Prosecco. Gently clink your glasses as you and your dining companions toast, ‘Salute’ over plates of wood-fired pizza or schiacciata – flatbread made with olives, gorgonzola and herbs. Bite into moreish arancini, savour mouthfuls of gnocchi with burnt butter and sage, or finish your afternoon with an affogato: vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of espresso and Frangelico.
Rae's Restaurant at Balgownie Estate Vineyard, Resort and Spa
Image: Rae's Restaurant at Balgownie Estate Vineyard, Resort and Spa.
When you’ve had your fill of wine tasting, lunch at Rae’s at Balgownie Estate Vineyard, Resort and Spa makes the perfect reprieve. Take a table in the sun-soaked dining room – complete with vineyard views, of course – and mosey up to the cocktail bar. Momentarily swap sips of sparkling wine for a Bourbon Blanket or a Spiced Espresso. Make ordering easy by taking advantage of one of Rae’s tasting boards. This spread is a selection of the chef’s favourite gourmet tastes, or create a feast of your own choosing by ordering from Middle Eastern fritters, parmesan-dusted mushroom and truffle risotto, braised duck, or ginger pannacotta. Conveniently, Balgownie comes equipped with a collection of on-site accommodation - rooms, garden terraces and spa suites - for when the food coma hits and you need to sleep it off.
Image: Oakridge Wines.
The Oakridge Restaurant sits surrounded by vines and the uninterrupted panorama across the grape-dotted greenery are just as picturesque in person as in photos. Open for lunch, the restaurant serves up a la carte or multi-course options inspired by the harvest from the Oakridge kitchen garden. The fruits of Head Chef Matt Stone’s foraging and fishing excursions can also been seen on the menu. Previous hints at what to expect may include dry aged duck with rhubarb, smoked eel and steamed egg, braised garden greens, and potato mille feuille with bee pollen. Pair your menu picks with matched drops from the Oakridge Wines range. The restaurant is located adjacent to the cellar door, and offers indoor and al fresco seating.
The Restaurant at Yering Station
Image: Yering Station, Facebook.
Lovers of wine and history get a double dose at Yering Station: this is Victoria’s first vineyard, originally planted in 1838. The sleek restaurant delivers a stylish dining experience, complete with expansive views of the Yarra Ranges. The kitchen, helmed by head chef Maxime Croiset, oversees a menu peppered with classic French fare – all plates with a modern twist, of course. Forget baguettes and berets. Instead, um-and-ah between spanner crab with lobster foam, charcoal lamb backstrap, farro and carrot risotto. Don’t leave Yering Station without sampling a sweet from the dessert menu; the milk chocolate dome with caramel cashew nut, or saffron poached pear is a top pick.
Rochford Wines Restaurant
Image: Rochford Wines, Facbeook.
The restaurant at Rochford Wines is a light, bright and modern space; all polished floorboards, high ceilings and panoramic views across the neighbouring valley. An open fireplace keeps diners warm in winter, and opportunities for al fresco dining are the must-have perches for visitors during spring and summer. On the menu are plates made from seasonal and local produce. Expect smoked ox tongue with pickled pear and housemade dips with oven-fresh bread, slow cooked pork cheek or roasted duck. Nibble on pizza slices for something more informal, but don’t miss out on a bite from the stellar sweets menu, such as the Nutella doughnut with coffee and hazelnut mousse, or the crème caramel cake. Precede your reservation with a trip to Rochford's Wine Bar, where tasting flights include a range of reserve and estate wines. Matching grazing platters are also available.
Locale at De Bortoli Wines
Image: De Bortoli Wines, Facebook.
Take a trip to northern Italy with the cuisine at Locale, the trattoria-inspired restaurant at De Bortoli Wines. Housemade pasta, creamy risottos and share plates are always on the menu; ingredients used in each are influenced by the season. There is also a dedicated vegetarian and children’s menu. No matter when you visit Locale however, this style of dining is perfect for experiencing with a group. Try a plate of cheese from the Cheese Shop for smaller bites – expect taleggio, manchego, raclette and local marinated fetta. The dining room has an inviting, welcoming feel – not dissimilar to what you would expect when headed to a good friend’s house for a meal. Add in a glass or two of matched De Bortoli wine and you have the perfect afternoon.
Hungry to plan your next Yarra Valley getaway? Same. Make your trip even better by staying in the area for a few days - using a getaway found in our collection of luxury Yarra Valley accommodation, of course.
Hero and thumbnail image: Zonzo Estate, Facebook.