Food Review: Yield Restaurant & Providore, Birregurra

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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)

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Sauerkraut, lentil and mint

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Simple but addictive potato, lemon and parsley. Loved the slight chewiness of the potato skins!

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Braised Wilgunya Black Angus: melt-in-the-mouth and oh-so-tender.

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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

birregurrafarmfoods.com.au

Food With A View @ Forage On The Foreshore, Port Campbell

Located close to the end of the Great Ocean Road, Port Campbell is a small coastal town popular as a base for tourists visiting the Twelve Apostles limestone stacks, which is just a short drive away. Despite its small population (around 5-600), the town is packed with attractions and things to see, from chic restaurants and cafes to vibrant galleries and shops, and of course, beautiful nature.

After a long drive from Melbourne with numerous stops along the way, we were glad to check in to our accommodation at Southern Ocean Villas. After quickly freshening up, it was time for the next item on the agenda – dinner!

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Walking to the town centre, we passed through quiet roads with quaint homes and lush green fields. For a city girl like me, who grew up surrounded by bright lights and concrete buildings, it was a nice and relaxing change of atmosphere.

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Housed in the town’s former post office, Forage on the Foreshore is all about fresh food foraged locally. With gorgeous sea-facing views, the resto exudes chill beach / boardwalk vibes, with a cheerful yellow and blue colour scheme.

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There’s a small souvenir shop next to the restaurant which sells handmade gifts and trinkets. Unfortunately due to the hour, it was closed. (That’s another thing about Western countries that I find in stark contrast with Asian countries, where most of everything is open until late at night) 

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View facing the sea and dramatic cliffs

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The interior is casual, wooden tables, chairs and floorboards, simple deco, a vintage vinyl record player and an open fireplace.

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As with many restaurants that we’ve dined on the Great Ocean Road so far, the menu is big on regional, seasonal produce so it changes from time to time. For starters, we had the Pickled Apollo Bay Octopus with Brucknell Kalamata Olives and Fire-Roasted Capsicum Sauce. Presentation was rustic, but pleasant. The sauce’s vivid red popped against the black plating, and looked great when paired with the greens and the octopus. Meaty and sweet, the protein was great for nibbling on, with a slightly chewy texture and great flavour.

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Digging in to the next appetiser: the Panfried Yumbah Greenlip Abalone with Garlic Butter on a Raw Celeriac and Roquette Salad. Again, slightly chewy as most shellfish done well should be, and I think garlic butter is a great flavour pairing to bring out the natural sweetness of the abalone. The celeriac and roquette salad added an element of crunch and texture to the overall dish. A winner in my books.

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Despite being summer, it was quite windy and cold by the seaside, so I opted for something warm and soothing for mains – Fresh locally caught fish, Mount Martha Mussels, Bass Straight Scallops in Fish Bone Broth. The bread that came with the dish was perfect to sop up the lip-smacking broth, and they were generous with the amount of seafood.

FORAGE ON THE FORESHORE 

32 Cairns St, Port Campbell VIC 3269, Australia

forageontheforeshore.com.au

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Sunset view; lovely pink sky.

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After dinner, we drove back near to the 12 Apostles to try and spot penguins returning from their catch for the day. It was too dark to see anything, but at least we enjoyed the breathtaking view of the sunsetting in the horizon, casting an orange glow across the dark sea.

 

Food Review: La Bimba @ Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road

It may not have a large population, but the bustling tourist town of Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria is home to a good selection of restaurants, cafes and eateries. Among them is La Bimba, which serves up contemporary Australian cuisine with an emphasis on fresh ingredients, sourced from local farmers and fishermen.

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Going with the sustainable theme, the interior of the restaurant features tables, chairs and other fixtures built from recycled timber from the region. The brick walls and wood create a cosy, homely atmosphere, coupled with awesome sea-front views and plenty of natural sunlight filtering in from its tall windows.

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Since ingredients are seasonal and subject to availability, the menu changes accordingly so diners will always have something new to try. During our visit, we started off with some samplers of Beetroot Carpaccio, Ricotta, Hazelnut and Saltbush, as well as Beef Tartare, Horseradish, Creme Fraiche, Saltbush and toast.

Refreshing and sweet, the beetroot carpaccio is a great alternative for vegans, balanced out by the slightly sour ricotta cheese, as well as the natural nutty sweetness of the hazelnut and the earthy, leafy flavour of saltbush – a common plant found in the bushlands of Australia. The beef tartare was also good, with none of the bloody, iron-like taste that usually comes with raw meat.

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Served in a crockpot, Portalington mussels, garlic, chilli and cilantro. Simple but hearty, the mussels were plump and juicy, bathed in a garlicky juices. 

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For sharing, Kipfler potatoes, cultured cream and seaweed powder. The peels were left on, giving the taters a smokey taste, while the seaweed powder added a touch of brininess.

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The Corner Inlet Flathead with harissa and coriander was sizable, with firm, fleshy meat.

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Pumpkin, macadamia, grains

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The 1KG Tomahawk steak was a spectacle to behold, swimming in its own juices on a metal serving plate. While the meat was cooked perfectly, it was a lot to finish, even for our group of 8.

If you’re into fresh, local food, then La Bimba ticks all the boxes. Grab a seat by the window to enjoy the sea breeze.

LA BIMBA

125 Great Ocean Rd, Apollo Bay VIC 3233, Australia

Opening hours: 9AM – 3PM, 6PM – 8.30PM (closed Tuesdays)

labimba.com.au