It was a very bleak and wet long weekend Monday in Guildford but we heard the siren call of a winery lunch, so headed out to the Valley in search of just that – and after a short stop of tasting at two wineries – Olive Farm and Tyler’s (and more to come on those visits) – the rain had stopped and a little dull sun had peeped through the clouds by the time we arrived for our lunch reservation at Riverbank.
We have been here many times, but not since the new owners took over earlier this year, and we were keen to see if the food continued at the high standard we had experienced previously – and I can confidently say it did. Even more, the wine, which was always the only thing that had let the restaurant down, has reached new heights under new winemaker Digby Leddin, of Lamonts fame. And with more new releases on the way this will only further enhance a visit to Riverbank.
Riverbank Estate restaurant has one of the prettiest outlooks of any winery restaurant in the Valley, over green lawns to vines rolling down to the Swan River and across to Woodbridge House on the far side. With seating on two levels inside and an outdoor area, a covered veranda, shielded by heavy cafe blinds is the prime place to sit – in winter gas heaters add a touch of warmth – while on warm days the breeze keeps the temperature down.
On this day we were happy to sit inside by the window – the place was packed upstairs, downstairs and outside, and with a few more at the bar tasting the wines – testament to its popularity.
One of the new wines on the list Rebellious 2017 Rosé showed the gains made in this area – a blend of Shiraz, Malbec, Tempranillo and Grenache, it had a heady perfume of crushed rose petals and Turkish Delight, with a clean, crisp palate redolent of cranberries and rhubarb; just a little mid palate sweetness too, a perfect warm weather drinker! The wine list noted three wines soon to come all of which I expect to be well worth a look – Fiano, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo – we will be back to check them out.
To the menu – small starters, entrées and mains – along with desserts and sides – all, from the descriptions, tempting and from what we saw as various dishes went past, looked the part as well.
We began with one of the small starters – prawn tacos with Jalapeno aioli – four crisped tortilla topped chopped juicy prawns mixed with creamy, mildly spiced mayo with a scatter of flowers and julienned red pepper – well put together, pretty as a picture, just the ticket for an appetizer.
Then from the entrée list, Blue Cheese Panancotta – wobbly, creamy, salty and savoury – served with halved dried Iranian baby figs – brimming with sweetness – chopped, curried walnuts, sliced pear and little pearls tasting of balsamic as they exploded to the bite– superb presentation and lived up to all expectations.
Our two mains continued the quality – firstly Barramundi, juicy, succulent flesh lurking under crisped skin, came with fresh baby herb and pea salad, sauce gribiche adding colour and salty, eggy creaminess – crunchy dill pickles and finely sliced potato crisps – wonderful amalgam of flavours and texture.
And finally, moist and luscious chicken breast came with sliced, fried boudin sausage of chicken, flavoured with mild mustard – crunchy skinned fried potato gnocchi cake, and a gorgeously creamy, smoked sauce bringing everything together.
Riverbank, always one on of the best of the winery restaurants in the Valley, continues to impress – and the new wine list will serve to better complement the outstanding food – for us it may have now become the best of the many excellent Swan Valley winery restaurants. With the Spring and Summer weather on the way it is a must if you are visiting out that way.