Have you noticed the Yarra Valley has become a culinary hot spot? The opening of Ezard at Levantine Hill and new chefs at Oakridge and Rochford Wines means the food in the region is now on a par with the fantastic wines.
Perhaps the biggest reinvention has occurred at Rochford Wines where I was invited to try the new lunch menu. The restaurant at Rochford is a huge space with seating for 200 – it can feel a little impersonal but try to score a table by the floor to ceiling glass windows in order to soak up the stunning views of Rochford’s vines and extensive grounds.
Chef Raki Andriana’s new menu is designed for sharing with dishes divided into small, medium and large. The large servings are very generous – think share amongst four people rather than two. We started with some small options: a bowl of salty Toolunka creek olives ($9) and moreish smoked ox tongue teamed with sweet but tangy pickled pear ($19). Andriana’s take on beef tartare ($22) is contemporary teaming the raw beef with smoky mushrooms, a tiny quails egg and wafer thin potato chips.
But this was all really just a preview for the main event, the 24 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder ($85 with sides). The huge hunk of lamb fell apart at the touch and came with a rich, sticky gravy and a crisp slaw.
To balance out all that meat a salad of fresh figs and goats cheese ($19) really highlighted seasonal produce and I loved the addition of pieces of toasted brioche to add crunch and sweetness to the dish.
Don’t even think about skipping dessert at Rochford as the options here are top notch. The “broken cheesecake” ($15) was almost too pretty to eat with slivers of compressed strawberry and smoky meringue while the peanut butter and caramelised banana parfait ($15) delivered a sophisticated take on a cult flavour combination.
Of course this is a winery so each course can be paired expertly with one of Rochford’s own wines. The combination of Rochford’s lightly spiced 2015 Reserve ‘Dans les Bois’ pinot noir with the slow cooked lamb was a winner.
It’s great to see the food at Rochford has really stepped up making it the perfect spot in the Yarra Valley to indulge in a long, lazy lunch.
Gourmet Chick was invited to review Rochford Wines.
Details: Rochford Wines, 870-880 Maroondah Highway, Yarra Glen Vic
Damage: Pricey but on this occasion I did not pay.