Looking for a restaurant the celebrated local harvest, we stumbled upon Bellbrae Harvest (thank goodness for the AGFG).
This restaurant is about 20 minutes inland from Torquay, off the main road where the darkness feels so heavy you can feel it cloaked over you. There are no lights along the dirt road and googlemaps seems to cut out at the critical point, where to turn next... But finally we made it! A little mudbrick house next to a pond, you are welcomed by fairy lights and the sounds of frogs "rib-biting" away.
Bellbrae Harvest opened 3 years ago and has won 2 Golden Plate awards, for their creative use of molecular cuisine intertwined with seasonal, fresh local produce.
The drinks menu encapsulates the local craft breweries and wineries and our host Dave is excellent at describing their flavours to us.
While we are perusing the menu we are served freshly baked bread with olive oil (grown down the road) and in-house dukkah. I am already salivating at the thought of what the rest of the meal will be like.
Ocean trout sashimi bathed in apple vodka with flying wasabi roe, picked ginger, yoghurt spheres and locally grown winter leaves. (I think there is also a modern prawn cracker there too)
The sashimi had fresh and clean texture in contrast to the crunchy prawn cracker.
The wasabi roe and yoghurt sphere had a gentle taste and didn't draw away from the trout.
Portarlington mussles steamed in champagne and cream with leeks and dried red pepper
Perfectly cooked mussels with slightly crunchy leek.
A rich dish with strong, bitterness from the red pepper and paprika. A dish not for everyone, but still enjoyable.
12 hour cured duck breast, rhubarb and Drysdale fetta puddings
chorizo croquettes and zucchini ribbons
Seriously, FEAST your eyes on this!
The winning dish of the evening. It still makes me salivate and feel so warm and cozy just thinking of this. This dish is well balanced, flavoursome and a truly interesting experience to eat.
The duck breast is tender and juicy, lined with crispy, duck skin. The croquettes are the smoothest, mash potato cased in a crunchy exterior that I have ever had. It was like pure silk in your mouth.
To balance out the strong flavours of the duck and croquettes, they are accompanied by these cute little rhubarb cylinders that are soft and jelly like with the salty cheese inside.
Pan fried local snapper with pearl barley, potato and
lemon myrtle 'risotto' cuttlefish and freeze dried garlic chips
Again, perfectly seared snapper with soft yet resilient barley. An interesting take on risotto.
Sourcream cheesecake with sous-vide strawberries, black olive sherbet, al dente tapioca
and Anglesea lavender praline
This is a dish that stimulates your senses - the beauty of the crystalline praline that sits above the bed of cheesecake, the gentle smell of lavender with each bite and chewy tapioca is contrasted with the soft cream cheese and sweet and pungent sous-vide strawberries.
Salted caramel creme brûlée, black sesame and cherry sponge and liquified popcorn bubbles
This photo and dish seems so plain and simple.
But in fact it was a winning dessert.
The salted creme brûlée was everything I expected, sweet, salty and creamy!!
But... the popcorn bubbles was light and frothy and truly tasted like hot popcorn
this is followed by the cherry sponge cake with plays with your mind... the texture is kind of like what i would imagine soft popcorn to be like...
Bellbrae Harvest has topped the list of best restaurants I have been too!
Worth the drive in the dark, worth travelling to Torquay and worth every cent!