With the AFL Grand Final turning Melbourne into a seething mass of footy fans, we decided to get out of Dodge and head to wine country for a Saturday sojourn. The Yarra Valley was our target with the first stop to be Innocent Bystander for some stomach-lining sustenance.
I was joined once more by my stalwart Melbourne guides Amy and Lee. With the crosstown and fellow escapee traffic negotiated, we arrived in good time for our early lunch table at Innocent Bystander’s restaurant and tasting room. It’s an impressive industrial space and was soon full of like-minded patrons.
With a dazzling selection of wines on tap, we were spoiled for choice. A solution offered itself in the form of a taster paddle which I opted for, choosing the proseccco, pinot gris and temperanillo, all on recommendation from our attentive waitress.
But there was also the small matter of a moscato frose machine which lured in Amy and a pretty decent beer selection from which Lee chose a cracking pale ale.
For food, the main attractions are sharing charcuterie and cheese platters, paellas, and pizzas. We chose from the latter list with today’s special of chorizo proving popular with Amy and Lee, while I opted for their quattro formaggi.
These arrived in good order as we nodded in approval with our respective drinks choices.
The pizzas were very well crafted offerings. Bases had a light crispness, but a good substance to them. Toppings were of very pleasing quality with my blend of asiago, scamorza, gorgonzola and parmesan really splendid.
I rounded things out with a very decent Allpress espresso. Roasted in Collingwood, today’s subsequent Grand Final losers, it put me in mind of Castello back home in Edinburgh as they serve the same beans.
So overall, Innocent Bystander served us a really good lunch in preface to further wine country adventures.
These shenanigans included a fantastic tasting next door at Giant Steps where we discovered a great wine called Light Rye Dread…I mean Little Black Dress…I mean Light Dry Red, as well as fantastic vermouths produced in collaboration with Four Pillars Distillery, which was where we headed afterwards.
Here we sampled some fantastic gins. You may remember I wrote a wee bit about Four Pillars earlier in the year, so it was great to see their base of operations. We concluded the afternoon with a quick stop at TarraWarra Estate.
We found their tasting room very busy so just sipped a glass of barbera while looking out across the valley. It was a fantastically relaxing way to conclude a glorious day in wine country.
Blythe scores Innocent Bystander
4/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 16/20
Today’s questers were: Amy, Lee, Blythe
We ate: PIZZA
We drank: wine, pale ale, moscato slushy
We wore: elegant wine country theads
Total bill: c.$120
Address: 316-334 Maroondah Highway, Healesville VIC 3777