OSCAR Wilde quotes are chalked up daily on the walls — such as "Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination".
Apparently the last working paddle steamer in the area was called Oscar W and the Wilde quotes are also a quirky link to what the restaurant is trying to do — push the boundaries with people's palates.
In the historic Port of Echuca Wharf precinct, this award-winning restaurant has been accumulating accolades for 14 years with its innovative menu using fresh, local and seasonal produce and top regional wines among its cellar of more than 700 labels.
Stretching high along the riverbank, it has a view of river traffic including the paddle steamers that tie up just metres away.
The menu offers smallest plates, small plates, big and side plates. My husband opts for a bruschetta of terrific roasted mushrooms with truffle oil and parmesan topped with slivers of nashi pear ($9.80) while I choose a yabby agnolotti ($22.90) with tomato, zucchini, superb yabby tomato bisque, fried basil and parmesan — a blend of flavours and textures and ideal with a glass of local Cape Horn Chardonnay ($7 a glass, $35 a bottle).
For main course, my husband chooses the pan-roasted barramundi on beetroot and olive paste, blanched green beans and topped with a petite micro-salad ($34.90), while the autumn weather suggested to me the twice-cooked suckling pig ($35.40) shredded on a bed of pea puree, with sticky carrots — the richness being cut by slivers of crisp radish and fresh coriander. At the sommelier's suggestion we choose a Fratelli pinot gris ($8.90 a glass, $42 a bottle). Then we share a serve of exemplary orange crepes ($15.50) with orange curd, candied orange and chocolate ice-cream rolled in walnut praline — but wished we'd ordered one each.
Reviewed by Tricia Welsh, who was hosted by Tourism Victoria
Oscar W's Wharfside, 101 Murray Esplanade, Echuca, phone 5482 5133. Open daily 11am-late. See oscarws.com.au. VicRoads 596 H6. To stay: nearby options include Steampacket Inn Heritage Boutique Bed & Breakfast (steampacketinn.com.au); Quest Echuca (questapartments.com.au); Cock N Bull Boutique Hotel Echuca (cocknbullapartments.com).