Bella Vedere, Badger’s BrookMarch 1, 2011
I love this place, and that’s not an overstatement. This restaurant is part of the Badger’s Brook wineary in the Yarra Valley, just outside Healesville. M and I were doing a day-trip to the country, and decided to stop here for breakfast seeing as we left home so early. It was a beautifully clear day in NE Victoria, as evidenced by my many photos below. The whole place is so picturesque I could hardly stop myself!
You enter through a side door, passing by the Bella Bakehouse, where it looks like they open up the large wooden stable-like doors to sell bread. The entrance hall, if you could call is that, is wonderful; you’re welcomed by a settee and a vespa, enormous tins of olive oil and crates of mineral water. A little further down there are jars of preserved vegetables, jams, fresh bread (best in victoria), sacks of potatoes from the garden, a kitchen counter stacked with cakes and fruit tarts. How food can lift your spirits! The room is spacious and well lit, thanks to the large windows on three sides of the restaurant, and the olive green walls and high ceilings with exposed beams, matched with the framed sketches of various fruits and vegetables on the walls add to the homegrown, rustic feel. It’s a little like a country cottage with wooden floors and chunky wooden tables and chairs, plus a long communal table that was positively bathing in the sunlight flooding through the windows when we were there.
As well as a coffee, M and I both ordered freshly squeezed orange juice, not sour at all but refreshing and sweet. Doesn’t it look lovely next to the vase of flowers from the garden? The coffee was great as well, not very bitter, warmed to a nice temperature and with a thin but creamy froth.
The menu is simple and delicious, and all local produce with the bread being baked in house, and the vegetables taken straight from the garden. The menu changes every month based on seasonality of produce, which is great to see. For breakfast, I chose the Kippers on toast, and the whole time I couldn’t stop thinking of that Fawlty Towers episode where one of John Cleese’s guests dies at the hotel and Basil has to discreetly remove the body. I’d never had kippers before, and I wasn’t in an eggy mood so thought I’d try something new. The kippers were very salty by themselves, although not oily, but perfect with a chunk of sourdough, butter and herbs and a squeeze of lemon. I’m fairly sure the chefs just ducked out to the garden to pick my chives fresh that morning, and no doubt the lemon as well. This place is seriously dedicated to freshness and regional food!
M went with the croque madame made with gruyere which I was lucky enough to try. It was superb, in fact it made me wish I’d ordered that instead, despite how much I enjoyed my kipper. The cheese in particular wasn’t too heavy, and lifted the dish far beyond your average cheese and ham toastie. In the open kitchen behind us I could see chefs busy stirring pots of stock and preparing vegetables for lunch. They had copper pots and pans hanging above the central bench which gave a homely feel to the place. And spare pans were stored in an old wooden cupboard with glass doors. Just lovely.
This place really is a testament to how much people value the feel of a place. Sure, the food is wonderful, consistently so, but my favourite thing about Bella Vedere is definitely sitting in a large room with a high ceiling, light pouring in through the windows, and looking out onto the Yarra Valley. Such a warm and honest place. The garden deserves a mention as well, looking out I can see tomato, spinach and rhubarb crops, carrots, some sort of climbing bean plant, lettuces and leeks, corn, and a monstrous herb section with rosemary and thyme and parsley and mint. It’s clear the owner’s have put a great deal of effort into it. Bella Vedere is a really lovely place for a relaxing breakfast or lunch, especially as it sits in one of the most beautiful places in Victoria.
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