St Huberts reopens as Hubert Estate after multi-million dollar development

Words by Jay Dillon

Locals of the Yarra Valley have been observing the slow rising of the ground from the Maroondah Highway for the last two years. It’s either a giant mole that’s dug its way from the UK or there’s a new cellar door on its way. 

The St Huberts vineyard was established in 1862 by Charles Hubert de Castella, contributing to the first wave of vine planting which began with Yering Station to the west. The estate built a huge reputation for high-quality cabernet wines, particularly in the late 1970s and 1980s. Through these years the estate passed through many hands, most recently; publicly listed winemakers and distributors Treasury Wines Estate.

Around 2016 the vineyard property was sold to entrepreneur Gerry Ryan, who was responsible for the $16 million redevelopment of Mitchelton Wines, Nagambie. Treasury Wines has clearly not been willing to give up the heritage wine label and instead will continue to own the St Huberts brand and rent back the newly developed property, renamed as Hubert Estate, from Gerry Ryan.

‘For visitors, it will be an fantastic proposition, as you go there and do a number of interesting things across the day. Rather than just a tasting at the cellar door’. Explains Tony Layton, Business Manager St Huberts.

The property’s soft launch today (March 31) will focus on the ‘mole mound’ centrepiece building which will house St Huberts Cellar door on the top floor and a wine retail shop called Notes. Here visitors will be able to access over seventy different labels from the Treasury Wines portfolio, as well as the ‘Notes’ brand of wines that targets emerging varietals and unorthodox winemaking techniques. The basement level opens as a gallery space featuring indigenous artists from Victoria and beyond.

Quarters at Hubert Estate restaurant will open on April 8, which is built around a fast-casual and high-quality menu. Expect pizza, pasta, burgers, salads and of course an extensive wine list. As the team finds their sea legs, the restaurant will open for five days for the first month.

It’s a massive investment into the Valley, with a function and event space called ‘Harriet’ and an eighty room hotel slated to be completed by the end of the year. There are other food and wine offerings to be added in the future, in addition to a high-end day spa.

Hubert Estate is shaping up to be a centrepiece of the Yarra Valley’s ‘golden triangle’, bringing something new whilst paying respects to the heritage of the site. One imagines Charles Hubert de Castella would approve.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Hubert Estate
WHEN: Cellar door, retail store and gallery open today March 31. Quarters at Hubert Estate restaurant will open on April 8.
WHERE:3 St Huberts Rd, Coldstream
MORE INFO: Hubert Estate

We wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Latin American cuisine is now cooking in the heart of East Gippsland

Words by Teyha Nicholls
Images Supplied

East Gippsland has never been known for its Latin American dining scene, but there’s a new restaurant setting out to change all that.

Arturo’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant is busting open the repertoire with authentic Peruvian, Argentinian and Colombian dishes for lunch and dinner. Charcoal-grilled meat plates and tapas with traditional spices have been flying out of the kitchen for one month now, something owner Mark Wheeldon couldn’t be happier about — both professionally and personally.

“I left [Gippsland] at 19 and returned at 54. I was sort of semi-retired when I saw this venue and contacted my friend, Arturo, who is a Peruvian chef. I said to him, “c’mon we’re going to start up a restaurant,” Mark explains.

Arturo, who emigrated from Peru six years ago, was cooking in the RACV City Club kitchen before the pandemic hit. But like many other venues, customer shortages during 2020 meant several staff were forced to find other work so Arturo found a job in a factory.  Fast forward two years and the duo are breaking new ground by building one of Gippsland’s finest Latin American restaurants.

We don’t call it a restaurant, we call it a venue. It’s somewhere people come to experience some nice food, to chat with friends. There’s a certain sort of ambience to it.

That ambience was designed by Mark’s niece, an interior designer with an intimate knowledge of what makes a venue sing. The team completely renovated what once was an uninspired 1960’s brick shopfront into a modern, glass-fronted restaurant with subtle homages to Latin America. The space feels bright yet warm, spacious yet cosy and, of course, the lake view is the hero.

“Arturo’s is all about helping out a friend, giving me something to do and also doing something unique in Paynesville. And that’s what we’ve done.”


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Arturo’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant
WHERE: 59 Esplanade, Paynesville
WHEN: Thursday – Sunday 10:30 am –9:00 pm
MORE INFO: Arturo’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant

We wish to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Chae restaurant – Brunswick’s loss is Cockatoo’s gain

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

A glance at Chae’s Instagram will instantly seduce with images of photogenic produce bursting with life, handmade dumplings and all manner of fermenting treats. In one scene, whole cobs of corn are hanging from their husks. The corn silk destined for tea, the husk to ferment nuruk (a traditional Korean fermentation starter) and the kernels will be made into makgeolli (a milky, lightly sparkling wine). This ‘waste nothing’ attitude guides chef Jung Eun Chae’s approach to food.

After years working in some of Melbourne’s top restaurants, including Cutler & Co and Lûmé, it was a car accident that precipitated Chae’s move to open her own home-based micro restaurant in her Brunswick apartment. With a focus on fermentation, health and sustainability, she began to introduce a select dining public to the wonders of Korean cuisine miles beyond bibimbap and bulgogi.

Quickly, the six seats at her compact restaurant became as hard to get as toilet paper in a pandemic. The unique set-up allowed Chae to minimise her outgoings and focus on the quality of food and service over profitability. Finally outgrowing the premises, Chae and her partner decided to make the move to Cockatoo, an hour east of the city in October 2021.

‘This is our first time living in a house. From mowing the lawn to gutter cleaning, every day is a new learning curve. I was very surprised the power goes out quite frequently around here. I think we’ve experienced three to four power outages, the longest one being five days. We purchased a powerful, reliable generator and had a cutover switch installed so we can provide a seamless service in case of power outage.’

Power supply has not been the only hurdle they have faced in the quest to give their restaurant a new home.

It was a bumpy ride leading up to the registration of food business because there hadn’t been precedents, at least in our council. I had to show our past operations in the Brunswick apartment to convince this actually is a thing. Overall, they are very helpful and we are so glad we got there in the end.

Once they are able to finally throw open their doors, guests will be able to enjoy a five to six course Korean seasonal degustation meal to the soundtrack of the hills, birdsong at no extra charge. The exact menu will reflect seasonal foods inspired by trips to the market, embellished with house ferments, and the fundamentals her mother still sends from South Jeolla province in southern Korea.

Long-term plans include fermentation workshops. ‘Kimchi is widely known for its taste and health benefits. I thought it may be a good idea to share some of my tips on how to make authentic Kimchi. I definitely would like to create a space where I can share my knowledge with like-minded foodies and ferment enthusiasts.’

Plans are to open as soon as council permits are all squared away, so keep an eye on the website with reservation details to be found here. Meanwhile, we suggest you be inspired by a deep dive into the Chae Instagram account.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Chae Restaurant
WHERE:
33 Mountain Road, Cockatoo
WHEN:
Saturdays & Sundays lunch at 1pm, dinner at 6pm
MORE INFO: chae.com.au

We wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Miss Amelie Gourmet ticks all the boxes

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

Picture this –it’s a lazy Friday afternoon and you’ve knocked off early. You’ve snagged a prime spot for a little people-watching on the wide, shady balcony of Beechworth’s newest spot. Take your time sipping some local vino while you graze through a delicious selection of cheese and charcuterie. This is what it’s all about at Miss Amelie Gourmet, the third location from co-owners chef David Kapay and businessman Ken Little.

David Kapay began to make a name for himself locally when in 2016 he opened Miss Amelie restaurant in the historic former Wodonga railway station. The fine dining establishment serving modern European cuisine soon became a destination, along with Little Miss, its petit cocktail bar next door.

Fast forward to 2020 and the Covid-19 reality of hospitality, David saw a chance to share his love of good food beyond the hobbled business model of the restaurant.

I started making some pies at a mate’s bakery and before you knew it Miss Amelie Gourmet was created. We opened our Wodonga location then we opened up a retail outlet in Albury. This one (in Beechworth) is the next step up.

And what a step it is. Located on the corner of Ford and Camp streets in the centre of town, the 150-year building has been home to several pubs, a few cafes and even a fish and chip joint at one stage. David and business partner Ken worked closely with local trades to breathe new life back into the building which had been vacant for several years.

The result is a stunning two-level licensed café/restaurant that is set to become Beechworth’s most exciting food destination yet.

Looking for a weekend spot to spread out the paper whilst sipping an espresso? Check – coffee coming right up with beans from Albury roastery Platform 9 Coffee Roasters. Got a craving for freshly churned Italian-style gelato? Yep, what flavour would you like? Someone special got a birthday coming up? Choose from a pastry case piled high with all manner of tempting treats or order one of their spectacular celebration cakes. Can’t be bothered cooking but still want to eat well? Grab one of their take-home meals for you to simply heat and eat.

Whatever you do, just don’t miss out on the medal-winning pies that started this whole thing off. Baked fresh at their Wodonga headquarters, the crowd-pleasing pies are now stocked in all three of Miss Amelie Gourmet’s locations as well as more than a dozen regional outlets. With flavours like Thai Red Curry Duck, Tasmanian Scallop & King Salmon Chowder and their newest creation the BBB (Beef, Bacon & Bridge Road Brewers Pale Ale) good luck choosing your new favourite.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Miss Amelie Gourmet
WHERE: 85 Ford St, Beechworth
WHEN: Mon to Thurs 7am – 4pm, Fri to Sat 7am – 7pm, Sunday 8am to 4pm
MORE INFO: missameliegourmet.com.au

We wish to acknowledge traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Opa Greek Restaurant arrives in Echuca

Words and images: Richard Cornish

Opa is a Greek word that defies literal translation. But it’s the word you use when you smash a plate at a Greek wedding; you cry ‘opa’. When you pop a cork on bubbles, accidentally drop a glass, you say ‘opa’! It is a beautiful expression that defines the unexpected pleasures and the little surprises that make life.

Opa Echuca is a Greek restaurant that itself is a serendipitous find. Although it opened shortly before Christmas, it is only in the past few weeks that owner Nick Raftellis feels that his new venture has hit its straps. The long-time fishmonger and fish and chip shop owner is a well-known figure in this part of the world, but his foray into cooking and serving a Greek taverna-style menu is new to him. “I am a cook, not a chef,” says Nick. “I have my trained chef Yogesh Rawat to run the kitchen professionally and finish the dishes,” he says. Yogesh, previously working with Stokehouse in St Kilda, loves the simple honesty of Greek food. “It is about fresh ingredients cooked simply. Sometimes less is more.”

Nick runs the grill cooking fine, young lamb cutlets to have a golden exterior and juicy pink interior. Served with baked potato redolent of lemon and oregano, it speaks of the beautiful honesty of the food here. South Australian octopus is grilled over charcoal, as is all meats and seafood (Nick says he has never cooked over gas flame in his life) is super succulent and served with a tangy, rich puree of fava beans with Greek capers and pickled shallot. Also, expect hortokeftedes, fried spinach patties crisp outside and creamy inside served with dill rich tzatziki.

The action happens in a historic mid 19th century double storied building, the lead lighting in the front windows spelling out ‘chemist’ and ‘druggist’. The interiors have been painted deep grey-blue with white trim – the colours of Greece without being stereotypical. Classical statuary sits on mantels around the dining rooms; a neon sign illuminates the words It’s All Greek To Me. Paper on linen on square tables, good stemware and comfortable white wooden chairs make for relaxed dining. The staff are enthusiastic, and Nick plays mein host after the grilling is finished.

Opa is fun and embraces a Greek taverna’s casual atmosphere whilst offering a more polished menu and service. The food is excellent, and as Nick and his team gain strength and confidence in the kitchen, he promises the menu will expand.


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Opa
WHERE:
554 High St, Echuca
WHEN: Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm
MORE INFO: 
opaechuca.com

Geelong’s Hot Chicken Project takes eggs out of one basket with Ballarat expansion

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

Ballarat’s foodie precinct is expanding its repertoire with yet another scrumptious haunt – and this one is set to rule the roost.

After the city’s beloved fried chicken restaurant Winner Winner (which was owned by the team behind Ballarat’s Moon + Mountain, Ragazzone and Renard Cocktail Bar) flew the coop, the street was left with a major problem to brood over.

Luckily for residents and visitors alike, a new offering is now ready to strut its stuff.

Okay, enough of the puns.* For now.

Currently located in both Geelong and Anglesea, The Hot Chicken Project is one of the most popular fried chicken diners in regional Victoria.

Renowned for its spicy fried chicken, as well as all the oil-doused goodness we have come to expect from American-inspired diners, the restaurant is sure to appease fried chicken lovers everywhere (as well as the gluten-free).

Buckets of chicken, slaw, pickles, waffles, juicy wings and your choice of heat – the menu cannot be rivalled.

Hatching in the next couple of months, the Hot Chicken Project is almost ready to play chicken.  So get your taste buds prepped.

*The writer of this article had a lot of fun Googling chicken puns for the sake of annoyance.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: The Hot Chicken Project
FIND OUT MORE: hotchickenproject.com or on Instagram here.

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Thyme is on your side at Alba Thermal Springs

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images:Supplied

Melburnians have become quite used to a cheeky getaway to hot springs on the Mornington Peninsula. And when floating in tranquil luxury is just a one-hour drive away, it’s easy to see why.

The soon-to-open Alba Thermal Springs and Spa will no doubt become a sought-after destination for all things relaxing when it finally opens its doors in winter 2022. Located at Fingal, near Cape Schanck, the 15-acre water wonderland will boast more than 30 bathing options from geothermal, cold plunge through to herbal-infused botanical pools, as well as a plethora of spa services to revitalise both the body and the soul.

Now, if only there was somewhere to eat after all this bliss? Enter Thyme – a 120-seat restaurant with an all-day menu (remember those) serving up fresh, wholesome dishes with a signature Mediterranean twist, thanks to Melbourne legend Karen Martini. A staple of the restaurant scene (and television screens) for more than 25 years, the chef, writer, and restaurateur was officially appointed a Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Legend in November 2021.

As director of the culinary program, Martini has created a menu rich in plant-based dishes, making the most of the kitchen garden’s herbs and vegetables.

We will also be supporting local growers and suppliers, seeking out seasonal produce from sustainable farming practices, and choosing organically-grown wherever possible.

A well-curated beverage list will draw upon the region’s prolific wineries as well as local tea blends, excellent coffee and fermented drinks. In line with the project’s healthful ethos, those with special dietary requirements will also be well catered for.

The venue itself has been designed to capture the stunning vistas the unique coastal location provides, complete with an outdoor terrace to take in spectacular sunsets, no matter the time of year.

We know you don’t need any more convincing to visit the Peninsula with its wealth of wineries, luxury accommodation, outdoor activities and spectacular coastal walks but it looks like you’ve just added one more to your must-do list.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Thyme at Alba Thermal Springs
WHERE: Fingal, Mornington Peninsula
WHEN: 7.30am to 9.00pm daily, opening winter 2022
MORE INFO:  Alba Thermal Springs

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Pearl – Inverloch’s newest gem

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

Pearls are produced by molluscs turning something irritating – and potentially dangerous – into something exquisite. Perhaps Inverloch’s newest restaurant, Pearl, is partly named for the same beautiful outcome.

Covid lockdowns had owner Tracy Kinnaird stuck on the cancelling/re-scheduling merry-go-round with their other venue, The Grove Gippsland. The Grove is a 60-acre property in the rolling Krowera hills of South Gippsland, an hour and a half drive from Melbourne. Normally the property is bustling with functions and weddings amongst the olive grove, truffle orchard and sculpture garden.

The enforced downtime provided just the opportunity they needed to complete their new restaurant on the eastern edge of Inverloch, Pearl. The restaurant’s interior embraces a simple, pared-back aesthetic with accents providing a nod to the casual modern Malaysian menu created by chef Ken Lim.

‘There’s really nothing like it in the area. It’s a blend of home-style Malaysian food but with restaurant quality. It’s going gangbusters,’ says Tracey. One of the most popular items is a curry puff, but it ain’t no regular curry puff.

The chefs make their own puff pastry. They include some of the rendered fat from the beef rendang into the puff pastry. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s amazing and it’s gone in two bites.

With a capacity of 70 seats, one of the most sought-after spots is bound to be the outdoor deck for a cooling cocktail overlooking the pool at the Broadbeach Health Club (located in the same building). How about a swim first then followed by a delicious meal paired with local wines? Don’t mind if we do!


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Pearl restaurant
WHERE: 5 Lindsey Close, Inverloch
WHEN: Wed – Sat from 5:30pm, Lunch Sat- Sun11:30am – 3:00pm
MORE INFO: Pearl Inverloch

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Balgownie Estate in Yarra Valley opens restaurant 1309

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images Supplied

Balgownie Estate has quite literally risen from the ashes with their new fine dining restaurant, 1309.

If you’re looking for a place to absorb rolling vineyards, sip on some world-class wine and experience fine dining at its best, Balgownie Estate in the Yarra Valley has just opened a crowning jewel in winery venues sure to fit the bill. Meet Restaurant 1309, named charmingly after its address on the Melba Highway.

While the entire hospitality industry suffered through the pandemic last year, Balgownie Estate had another issue on their hands: a fire whipped through their restaurant between lockdowns, burning it to the ground. Fast forward 18 months and the restaurant is back with a fresh name and fresh face. 1309 is the multi-million dollar phoenix, designed by ZWEI Interiors & Architecture with capacity to seat 100 patrons in its bright, modern interior.

Inside the impressive building is an even more impressive team of chefs and executives. Head chef Beth Candy (Finalist Best Chef 2021 – TAA Awards) and executive chef Grant Flack (Winner Best Chef 2019 – TAA Awards) have teamed up once again to create a Modern-Australian menu that pays tribute to the Valley’s abundance of fresh produce and of course, pairs beautifully with Balgownie’s wines. Highlights include the Smoked paprika and herb rolled spatchcock and Crispy Berkshire-Duroc Pork belly.

“Grant and Beth are two very passionate, dedicated chefs. They’ve got a passion for local produce and work very closely with our suppliers in the Valley to deliver that experience on the plate. The flavours talk for themselves,” explains General Manager Melanie Watson.

Through December the restaurant, Cellar Door and bar is open only to in-house guests at their accommodation and long-booked weddings and functions, but come January 2022, the doors will swing open to the general public. There will be food, drink and good old fashioned service aplenty, and according to Watson, you may never want to leave.

“We call this building our new home, our Balgownie family home. Everyone who comes in is welcome straight away.”


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Restaurant 1309, Balgownie Estate
WHERE: 1309 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen
WHEN: Opens to the public January 2022
MORE INFO: Balgownie Estate

We wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

A Bonnie new addition to All Saints Estate

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

As if the Rutherglen region wasn’t already a pin on your map, All Saints Estate has just made it that bit more enticing with the newly opened casual eatery, Bonnie. The name is a nod to the original owners’ Scottish heritage when the estate was first established way back in 1864 – yep, 1864.

Some people may have taken these last couple of Covid years lightly. Not current owners and siblings Angela, Eliza & Nick Brown. If that surname looks familiar when talking wine, you’re not wrong. Their father, Peter, was one of Brown Brothers of Milawa, another renowned winery south of Rutherglen.

‘Our goal was to come out of this challenging time with a positive outlook. Our aim with these renovations is to introduce international-worthy facilities for our loyal customers and new customers from around Australia and beyond,’ explains Eliza Brown.

We never thought we would be breaking ground on two new restaurants and a stunning new cellar door while still in a pandemic.

Casual eatery Bonnie is serving up woodfired, artisanal pizzas and salads, as well as platters bursting with charcuterie, cheese and other locally-sourced delights. Naturally, the food is complemented by the highly drinkable beverage menu curated by winemaker Nick Brown, which includes local beers and alcohol-free options, as well as wines from All Saints and St Leonards Vineyard.

Whether you choose to eat in the architecturally designed dining room or take advantage of the attractive outdoor terrace, you’ll be rewarded with views across the lake, charming landscaped gardens and ultimately into the vineyards beyond where all the magic happens.

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on a weekend, we suggest you avail yourself of the winery tours which explore the estate’s historical buildings every Saturday and Sunday at 11am. Ach, bonnie indeed – Scottish accent optional.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Bonnie
WHERE: 205 All Saints Road Wahgunyah
WHEN: Tuesday – Sunday 11am-3pm, Thursday – Sunday 5pm-9pm
MORE INFO: Bonnie

We wish to acknowledge the Yorta Yorta people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.