My first visit to the winery was a few years ago. My aunt married in the relaxed gardens, with the quirky clutter being the subject of photos. It was a beautiful wedding. I still remember the food. I was served an interesting gnocchi with gorgonzola and broad beans. Who would think to put broad beans in a gnocchi?
My second visit was last weekend. Entree and main are compulsorary – you can’t order one without the other. The packaged two is an expensive $58. For someone who is vegetarian and loves sweets, this menu situation is unfortunate. I was forced to order salad for entree. Not interested in the corn and basil risotto for main, the waitress offered the kitchen to make a black truffle mushroom linguini.
Luckily they gave us bread to tie us over (it was forty minutes before the entree arrived, then we had to wait another 40 minutes for mains). The crusty baguette was served warm with garlic and chive crème fraiche and a dish of olives. The olives were tiny, with pips taking up most of their volume. They had been marinated in olive oil and orange peel which reminded me of the delicious olives I had eaten at Kenji.
The salad was a modern and artistic take on the popular flavours of beetroot and fetta. This one had been done with baked mini beets, and thin slices of raw beetroot. Buttermilk complimented the beets in mounds like soft panna cotta. The candied St. James walnuts were a highlight; crunchy, flavoursome and sugary. The thinly sliced apple was on the sidelines and blended well. A baby onion gave the dish a more savoury feel.
The pasta was delicious. It arrived as spaghetti (not linguini) already peppered with parmesan too. Watercress garnished the top. The mushrooms were thinly sliced and the pasta al dente.
Oakdene have a barrel fermented sauvignon blanc on their menu. I was not sure I would like the taste but had not tried something like this before. The manager kindly gave us an education session and taste (we were very bad customers that night with too many questions). The grapes were in a combination of old and new barrels for 5-6 months. As sauvignon blanc is quite a fresh grape, it seems any longer would make the wine flabby. It was a strange experience with the usual pungent smell and grape freshness of a young, well made sauvignon blanc, but then a oakiness lingered on the end. I don’t know if I disliked the wine, or if I was just unused to the combination. Apparently a lots of wineries use this technique now to give length to this grape.
The chardonnay on the menu was the Oakdene ‘Elizabeth’ 2008. This smelt delightful with full French oak. The taste fresher with nectarines then vanilla. This one had been on oak for 12 months. I really enjoyed this wine – much more than the sauvignon blanc.
The pinot noir was the Oakdene ‘Peta’s’ 2009. It was big for a pinot with hints of dark cherries, pepper and tannins.
Overall, it was a really nice meal but there were a couple of disappointments. First, the food took too long. We would have liked to order dessert but it was after 10:15pm by the time we had finished our mains. Second, I would have preferred to order a main and dessert than having to have salad and then a main.
Of course there were good points too. The service was extremely formal and professional. The staff were very young but it was obvious that they had been exceptionally well trained, they had even been taught how to walk with their hand behind their back as they glided through the dining room. It was lovely to learn about the wine and enjoy it with our meal. Given the cost and inflexibility with the menu, I probably won’t be rushing back to the restaurant but it would be nice to drop in on a fine day and taste wines at the cellar door.
255 Grubb Road
03 5255 1255