Healesville Harvest

October 25, 2011

256 Maroondah Highway, Healesville

I was spending the weekend with my friends on a property in the countryside (how idyllic), and we passed through Healesville around lunchtime and decided on a quick meal at Healesville Harvest. Located in the main street, it is next door to (and owned by the same people who run) the Healesville Hotel, which is a renowned gastropub that does excellent, but more formal, meals.
Healesville Harvest has been open for some years now, and I’ve always liked their attractive courtyard and outdoor seating area, interspersed with a varied bunch of tables and chairs, and the occasional bunch of flowers in an old food tin.
Inside the feel is much the same; local, artisan, colourful. It’s a pleasant and relaxing place to be in. On a Sunday it was bright and cheery and very busy, there were hardly any empty tables.
Immediately as you walk in there’s a shelf full of foodie-related books and also some children’s books, written by local authors. A selection of pastries sit next to the coffee machine: all the usual signs of an inner-city cafe.
What distinguishes this place from an inner-city cafe is the wide range of local produce on offer (although I probably wouldn’t call T2 local), mainly wines and ciders from the Yarra Valley, as well as some biscuits and marinated olives.
Lunch offerings are mainly bready things, some house-made pies and a selection of salads.
We grabbed the last available table inside, and ordered our meals and a couple of coffees.
Here is H’s enormous hot chocolate. Seriously, this thing was HUGE, and H said it was really nice and warming.
D’s flat white was also decent (pictured here in portrait with aviators).
D and I both ordered the lamb borek turkish pastries with tzatziki and green salad. K ordered a toasted croissant, H a beef pie. So we waited. And waited. Then finally we saw a waitress walk over with a plate of lamb pastries and a croissant, “Brilliant”, I thought, “Food’s here!”. Well, sort of. They were my lamb pastries, but it was not K’s croissant, which we all thought a little disappointing. I waited a few minutes for the others’ food to arrive, but nothing happened, and I still hadn’t been given any cutlery (and no, before you ask, there was no self-service area).
I tried for a good 5 minutes to get a waitresses attention but without success. Finally K was able to ask for some cutlery for me, which were delivered promptly. Then D’s matching meal and K’s croissant came out. I don’t understand how it was so hard to coordinate two of the same meal with a warmed croissant, I mean, really. Still no cutlery without us having to ask again. Still no sign of H’s pie.
Over 15 minutes after my meal had first arrived (and was long finished), H’s pie arrives. He said it was delicious, but I think that the lack of service was a very poor show. As for my borek pastries, they were nice, not as flavoursome as I would have thought, but the accompanying salad was lovely and fresh, and the tzatziki had poppy seeds in it which was a nice touch.
As we were eating we heard another gentleman complain that his coffee had gone cold while he was waiting for his slice of cake, which had taken over 15 minutes. 15 minutes to slice a cake already sitting in the display cabinet? I don’t think so.
The poor service here really is enough to stop me from coming back again. It just lowers your whole experience of the place, which is such a shame because I really want to like it in full. On the positive side, with a few minor changes to their systems, I’m sure the place could run much more efficiently and this would match the tasty food and lovely atmosphere.
To lift your spirits after that disheartening finish, here are some photos of iris flowers in jars and green lamp shades.


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