I’ve been too busy doing things recently to write about them. On a recent Sunday I took a relative visiting from interstate to lunch at Bulong Estate winery in the Yarra Valley. They offer what they describe as a French – Japanese fusion menu. We tasted and bought some wine and enjoyed a leisurely lunch that was mostly good, although it did not quite meet its potential.
The entrees were the highlight of the meal. From the top down: duck salad with pickled figs and snail, mushroom and garlic pie. Both were perfectly prepared and a pleasure to eat. With these we enjoyed glasses of the winery’s pinot gris and chardonnay.
We waited for a long time for our mains. A suspiciously long time. I was about to ask one of the wait staff when the waitress in training come to our table and asked us if we would like to see the dessert menu. Yes, I replied, after we have eaten our mains. She fled with a mixture of confusion and trepidation. It was a timely intervention.
Not long after our meals appeared. The steak came with a yuzu pepper sauce and was reported to be delicious. I was somewhat less impressed with my sour plum pork belly. I suspected that it had been prepared some time ago and that it had sat in the kitchen waiting to come out with the forgotten or delayed steak because it was slightly dry in parts. There was no hint of sour plum and it was served with Dijon mustard. The vegetables for both meals were generic and disappointing, with no evidence of fusion innovation.
Bulong makes some lovely wines, including an unusually light and delicate cabernet franc. I’ve had two other straight cabernet franc varietals produced in Victoria, from Wild Dog winery in Warragul and a very limited release from Harcourt Valley near Bendigo. Both were excellent in a more conventionally dark, heavy style. In contrast, Bulong’s is closer to a pinot noir in colour than an average cabernet sauvignon and fragrant and gentle on the palette.
Bulong Estate has a beautiful vineyard with wonderful roses adjacent to the restaurant and cellar door. It’s worth a visit, as I think that my experience on the day may not have been representative of their potential, as the restaurant was mostly full and the front of house staff were inexperienced. The quality of the wine makes it easier to recommend Bulong if you are exploring the Yarra Valley.