Bella Vedere, Badger’s Brook

June 28, 2011

 874 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream
Whenever we drive to the country property, Dad usually likes to get an early start (read: 7am start, ugh…). My compromise? “Fine, but only if we get breakfast at Bella Vedere”. It is in the Yarra Valley, at the Badger’s Brook winery, and they do breakfast, lunch and I think also dinner on most days of the week.

The coffee here is consistently good, and both of our flat whites were pleasantly strong and warm. I really like the suger bowls here, everything is so well designed and sourced, it really adds to the feel of the place. Outside, a chef was busy building up a fire which they were going to use to roast a some quails, which the chefs in the kitchen were sliding onto long metal pokers. Suddenly I was very envious of the people coming here for lunch!

Inside there is a long communal table with the days newspapers, fresh flowers on every table and a roaring fireplace that warmed my back beautifully. The ambiance inside was quiet and relaxed, the room is quite large and there weren’t many people there so early in the day. The place isn’t stuffy by any means, but there is a focus on quality, so it strikes the perfect balance between being welcoming and serving excellent food. The open kitchen was quietly bustling with studious chefs poaching yabbies and skewering quails and sautéing beetroot and roasting parsnip. The smells were unbelievable.

House made bread – get the olive (best I’ve ever had) and the sourdough, also the dark rye if you’re eating it with smoked salmon and wasabi aoili, delish!

Jars of local and house-made produce, mainly jams and pickled vegetables. I love the seasonality of the food here, the focus on using fresh and local ingredients.

The menu changes weekly, which I find rather enjoyable, primarily because of the element of surprise, and also for the variability. They offer some classic dishes, and simpler dishes like museli, but they also usually have a couple of slightly unusual breakfast dishes. Dad had the Italian pork sausage with butter fried mash and tomato sauce. I though the presentation on this dish was very elegant, and I especially liked the look (and the taste) of those buttery, crispy shards of mash. Dad said the standout of the dish was actually the tomato sauce, which wasn’t bottled ketchup but proper reduced tomato sauce, which had a fantastically piquant flavour. As Dad said “it makes you realise what you’re missing out on when you eat ketchup”.

Last time I was here I had kippers with butter and lemon sauce on sourdough. The kippers had since disappeared off the menu, and this time my interest was piqued by the baked eggs with tomato and garlic pasta, fresh bread crumbs and parmesan. I thought it was quite an inventive dish, the idea of cooking pasta as per usual, then adding sauce and a couple of eggs and baking the whole lot with bread crumbs in the oven. It was delicious, a very filling and warming dish, and I loved the two eggs nestling amongst the fettucini. And there was lots of parmesan, which is a good sign. As it was being made I peered into the kitchen and saw a chef making fresh pasta (so it wasn’t leftovers from the night before!) and taking a piece of bread and crumbing it with his hands; I loved that, it made me smile.

The only drawback here is perhaps the service, or to be more specific, one waitress, who seemed a little vague, and was quite inattentive, given she was only taking care of four tables.

Just as we were leaving one of the chefs came and hung up four legs of ham to roast by the open fire. I mean, seriously, could this place get any cooler? This, for me, is simply wonderful. Bella Vedere has a strong focus on seasonal, local produce, and takes the time, care and effort to treat ingredients well and prepare delicious dishes.

Pre-breakfast we had a quick stroll through their enviable vegetable garden, it looked very picturesque in the morning light. I especially liked the wooden archway that guided us around the potatoes to the lettuces and rhubarb.

Fireplace pre-fire.

Lettuces and tomato plants.

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