"Review for Rae's Restaurant, Balgownie Estate, Yarra Glen.
My Sister and I took the opportunity to travel from Frankston to Yarra Glen for a Thursday vineyard lunch. Traffic on East Link was heavy but I rang ahead to say we would be late. Not a problem, I was thanked for calling and when we arrived we were welcomed and shown in to a spectacular, modern, very hospitable and spacious dining room looking east, out over rolling hills of vineyards resplendent in Autumn colours with the Yarra and Warburton Ranges in the blue distance.
Being a cool afternoon, the open fire in the entry and enclosed decorative fire in the dining room itself added the concept of warmth while the high clerestory windows allowed the sun to stream in. Simple, understated, white table cloths, shining glasses and cutlery. Who could ask for more? We had booked the set price menu and were disappointed to be told that the set price menu was not available, however we decided that we would choose from the open menu but keep to our budget. My sister was happy with tap water, but I chose a glass of their Black Label Viognier, a lovely classic wine with a crisp nose and soft fruit on the palate. A good choice for a light lunch on a weekday.
We decided to have the Fish of the Day, crispy skinned blue eye with sultanas and green beans. We shared an entree Heritage Tomato Salad as a side which came as a stack of sliced tomatoes of various colours layered with a light creamy cheese from their dairy and fresh basil leaf filling, on a flat round waffle base The fish was a delightful texture and the spiced sultanas with a hint of chilli perfectly complimented by the al dente fresh green beans. However, we each felt that the tomato salad gave the fish something it would have otherwise lacked. We were pleased with our main course.
We couldn't resist the deserts and my Sister chose the baked goats cheese cake desert served with a compote of fresh seasonal fruit, which she said was delightful and I enjoyed the vanilla panna cotta, silky and delicate, served with three crunchy biscuits each the size of a 10 cent piece, matching blobs of some red berry jus, and a scattering of crunchy pine nut toffee brittle. Now, who could complain about that?
We finished our treat with a cappuccino and an Early Grey tea. The dining room was nearly empty by now and although the cappuccino looked great it was tepid, cheerfully replaced a few minutes later with a very hot cappuccino, equally as well presented. I am not a big tea drinker but increasingly I enjoy simple tea, no milk or sugar, after a good meal. It refreshes without making the last drink just about hot milk. We had booked the set price menu as RACV Members and at the till, we were surprised that our meal came to exactly the cost of the set price menu! Now, how about that! We were also given a 10% Off Cellar Door card and my Sister promptly bought me a bottle of the Viognier as a Drivers Present.
Would we go again? In a direct line, Raes Restaurant is 65 kms from my front door, via East Link its a breeze but it is still 130 kms for lunch. As a destination the restaurant was a good choice, being partial as I am to good food, good views, clever architecture and general good design and efficient management. The dining room staff were crisp and well groomed in their black aprons and white shirts, service was a little slow I might have had two glasses of wine if asked but very efficient and friendly, such as the prompt exchange of hot for cool cappuccino. If not for the tyranny of distance, I wouldn't hesitate to go again, so yes I would but perhaps not soon and for lunch, not for dinner, mores the pity. I am sure dinner would be lovely, but a good part of the attraction of going is the scenery and lunch certainly delivers plenty of that! "
Review Note: For our visit, I have rated Very Good and I haven't rated all facilities of Rae's as we did not experience all facilities.
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