Here’s something I’ve noticed both times I’ve been to Victoria in Australia.
People will actually drive several hours to a restaurant located in a small hamlet, a tiny town or literally the middle of nowhere (read: the time we got lost in the bush while trying to look for the Ruffy Produce Store), just for the food or the produce. There’s always an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from the surrounding localities.
So when we pulled into Birregurra, a small town some 130 kilometres south of Melbourne, I was not at all surprised to find one of these restaurants, housed in a quaint single-storey building lined by a white picket fence. Formerly Birregurra Farm Foods, Yield Restaurant & Providore is the brainchild of Chef Simon Stewart and his wife Kara. The menu is set degustation, paddock to plate, with a strong focus on vegetables. Some of the dishes have a Mediterranean touch.
Following in the vein of many of the regional restos we’ve visited so far, Yield carries a casual, homely ambience and decor, with friendly service that will make visitors feel right at home.
We broke bread with a house-made spelt sour loaf. Breads are not as big in Southeast Asia as they are in Western countries, so it was my first time coming across spelt – a type of grain related to wheat which has been cultivated since 5,000 B.C.E. Like wheat, it is high in fibre, and also has other minerals and nutrients such as zinc, protein, manganese and phosphorus. The flavour was somewhat nutty and slightly sweet.
Next was Red lentil, sunrose and dukkah (a Mediterranean condiment made from herbs, nuts and spices). The red lentil was mashed into a small cake and had great texture, similar to hummus.
(Centre plate) Shanklish, fermented daikon and pickled onion
Shanklish is a type of cheese made from cow’s or sheep’s milk, popular in Levantine cuisine.
One of my favourites of the afternoon was Haloumi, plum and walnut – the textures blended really well together, as did the flavours (sweet, natural nuttiness of the walnut, slight tartness of the plum and the savoury taste of the grilled haloumi)
Sauerkraut, lentil and mint
Simple but addictive potato, lemon and parsley. Loved the slight chewiness of the potato skins!
Braised Wilgunya Black Angus: melt-in-the-mouth and oh-so-tender.
And finally for dessert, stone fruit, caramelised pepita and fennel seed custard.
I’ve always been more of a meat eater, but the dishes at Yield proved that it isn’t veggies I’m averse to – more the bland way in which they’re often prepared where I come from. I can see now why people drive all the way from the city just for a taste!
YIELD RESTAURANT AND PROVIDORE
43 Main Street Birregurra VIC 3242
Tel: +61 3 5236 2611