THE Yarra Valley is awash with good winery restaurants but Stones of the Yarra Valley has come up with a concept that sets it apart from the crowd. Here is a light-filled historic space among the vines where you are not forced to drink one company's tipple. Instead, Stones features wines from about 50 wineries.
The attractive and spacious restaurant is in a converted 1860s hay barn. Oak tables, stone floors, large crystal-adorned candelabra and evocative grape-vine table decorations offer just the right amount of post-modern embellishments to give Stones its sense of class ... relaxed country style with a twist of urban sophistication.
Owners Steve (pictured) and Vonnie Frazer created Stones, with its pretty chapel under ancient oak trees, as a wedding and event venue. But Saturday and Sunday lunch offers the rest of us a marvellous opportunity to savour some remarkable food and wine.
On the advice of the informative young sommelier, we choose a flinty cool-climate-style chardonnay from Mac Forbes ($52 a bottle) and enjoy fresh bread with Frazer's own Grovedale olive oil.
I start with a delectable garlicky white almond gazpacho topped with tuna sashimi and my husband enjoys sauteed squid, white peach, chorizo and roasted chilli (both $16). My lamb noisette with organic zucchini flowers, pine nuts and currants ($30) is aromatic with hints of rosemary in its delicate broth. It goes perfectly with a Punt Road cabernet ($9 a glass), whose vines line the driveway. My husband's blue eye cod is served with celeriac remoulade, pecorino and baby cress with raspberry vinaigrette ($30). For dessert, we share baked peach with an almond macaroon centre, Amaretto and peach gelato ($15).
Stones also has guest chef appearances (Greg Malouf is a regular) and intimate concerts from the likes of James Morrison, Colin Hay and the Australian String Quartet.
Great food, wine, music and acoustics in an airy setting. What more could you want?
Reviewed by Susan Gough Henly, who travelled courtesy of Tourism Victoria.
Stones of the Yarra Valley, 14 St Huberts Road, Coldstream, 9739 0900. Open Saturday and Sunday, 10am-5pm. See stonesoftheyarravalley.com.