Set in the grounds of the old Valencia vineyard and winery on Benara Road, alongside a brewery and a “juicery”, with a shady pergola and patio area, the Vineyard restaurant proved to be a very pleasant place to spend a sunny spring day earlier this week.
The dining room has been constructed from recycled bricks, with slate flooring and exposed beams, giving it an old style, rustic feel.
As the weather was quite wonderful we chose to sit under the vines out front while we looked over the menu. Starters included pork and tomato empanadas; smoked salmon bruschetta; home-made sausage rolls; and olives served with prosciutto and parmesan biscuits, while among the mains on offer were black olive tart; pan fried fish; chicken schnitzel; and sirloin steak.
The three of us decided to share a plate of Thai fish cakes to kick off, while for our mains we chose chicken and leek pie; chorizo and smoky beans; and scallop tart.
The fish cakes had a crumbed exterior, crisp and firm, while inside the mix of fish, coriander and lemon grass, was delicately spiced, moist and with a little chilli sauce to provide a slightly sweet zing, were the equal of many we have had from Thai restaurants around the traps.
A bowl of cannellini beans cooked in a rich, spicy tomato based sauce with chorizo, topped by a barely cooked egg that could be swirled through the mix was a hit with Lady FWO – mildly spiced, a hint of smokiness, served with freshly baked damper.
It was a kind of spruiced-up baked beans – good for lunch, it would also be a breakfast hit.
Our dining companion was satisfied too with his chicken and leek pie – cooked in a cream and white wine sauce had plenty of tender minced chicken breast along with chopped leek to provide a mild oniony element.
The pastry was well cooked with a crisp base making for a pretty good pie; served with some fresh salad it was an enjoyable vineyard lunch.
My scallop tart had an abundance of scallops, nicely cooked retaining a little firmness, swimming in a creamy, wine based sauce in a cheesy shortcrust pastry shell.
Well-seasoned and served with salad, it was another hearty, rustic dish.
The restaurant is licensed and the wines on offer celebrate those of the Swan Valley, with selections from Pinelli (just down the road), Garbin Estate, Ugly Duckling and Sitella.
We settled on Garbin Estate Non-vintage Sparkling Rosé – it was that sort of day, sunny, relaxed and the wine suited the times. Light pink, with a good mousse, red fruit aromas with a hint of yeast, and on the palate crisp, dry and full of juicy berry flavours.
Our companion, having other business later, elected not to indulge, but tried a glass of strawberry and lemon from the juice joint next door and declared it very refreshing.
Our waiter, who was for most of the time we were there also chief cook and bottle washer was friendly and efficient looking after the three or four tables of diners with aplomb until an offsider came along to help out.
The Vineyard Restaurant, with a lovely ambience, good quality, country-style food, in a pretty garden setting, and with wines from a couple of the less well known Valley producers is well worth a visit – spring days in the Valley are hard to beat!