Riverbank Estate restaurant has a lovely outlook over vines rolling down to the Swan River and across to Woodbridge House on the far side. The 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.
We have always found the menu innovative, and it changes on a regular basis. It begins with a number of small starters – olives, arancini, bruschetta, paté. On the day we visited entrées included pork belly with seared scallops; grilled bug tails; rare beef salad; and oysters, while among the mains were grilled Atlantic salmon; roast quail; spice crusted lamb shoulder; and veal rib eye. Creamy garlic mash, fries and a variety of salads complete the sides, and a number of tempting desserts are available.
We sat out on the veranda looking over the vines and decided to order arancini balls; tempura prawns; tuna and octopus carpaccio; and beef fillet with leek and potato terrine.
The wine list is limited to the Estate wines other than two champagnes and couple of Australian sparkling. This is probably the only real drawback of the restaurant – although the wines are of a reasonable standard they do not reach the levels of others produced in the Valley and offered at competing winery restaurants – Mandoon, Sandalford, Upper Reach for example. However, we did find some good wine to have with our meal – to start I opted for a glass of 2009 Mt Barker sourced Riesling, while Lady FWO chose 2013 Chenin Blanc. Later we ordered a glass of 2012 Shiraz and a glass of 2010 Padlock Paddock Cabernet.
The Riesling had lifted citrus aromas with a palate dominated by lime and crunchy green apple elements, while the chenin had some tropical fruit notes on the nose and a light, crisp and dry finish.
The cabernet exhibited aromas of blackberry and plum, and a medium bodied well integrated palate, and long finish. The shiraz had lifted chocolate and plum aromas, was full bodied and had rich plum flavours, with hints of vanilla, on the palate. Each was well made and good food wines.
The four golf ball sized arancini came nicely crisped on the outside and when opened revealed moist, creamy rice with basil and tomato. They were well flavoured and spiced tasty little morsels.
Tempura prawns had a light batter, were cooked with their tails, and served with a wasabi mayonnaise which provided a zesty note to the well cooked crustaceans. The prawns retained a crunch, and the flesh was sweet and juicy. They were beautifully presented, sitting in a creamy dressing with a little wrap of seaweed decorating them.
Thinly sliced tuna, in a soy based marinade was topped with slices of very tender octopus, with a mound of salad including leaves, coriander, noodles, and doused with a spicy Vietnamese style dressing. The dish, served cold, was refreshing with a number of competing but complementary flavours; it was a well presented and delicious dish.
The thick fillet was topped with unctuous onion jam, and came with lightly battered onion rings and oven roasted tomatoes, and a peppery spicy sauce. The fillet was cooked as required, was meltingly tender, and the sweet, luscious onion jam a nice contrast to the spicy sauce. It was another nicely presented and well cooked meal.
The food at Riverbank is priced on the high side for Valley restaurants, but we think the quality justifies the prices. It is nicely fitted out – the tables covered in snappy napery and the waiters are friendly, professional, knowledgeable and welcoming. It never fails to satisfy as far as food and ambience is concerned – some weekends live music adds to the attraction.