Oakridge Winery, Coldstream, Vic

Author: Michael Harden

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Oakridge Winery, Coldstream, Vic.

The view from Oakridge Winery's restaurant and cellar door has always been classic Yarra Valley - vines in the foreground, mountains as a backdrop, rolling green hills and big, big skies - but with chef Matt Stone (Greenhouse, Brothl) and his partner/sous-chef Jo Barrett (Tivoli Road Bakery) now in the kitchen, the food on the plate is just as expressive of the location. Take the XO sauce that's served with crumbed and fried fingers of braised pork cheek: in lieu of scallops and shrimp, Stone makes his XO with local trout that he cures, smokes and dehydrates. It's a similar approach with his custard made with local eggs and whey from Yarra Valley Dairy and teamed with peas, broad beans and juice from the pea pods that have all been picked from the garden. Or the dry-aged beef sourced from a farm 15 minutes from the estate that's served with local oyster mushrooms cooked in beef fat, dressed with an onion oil made with spring onion tops from the garden. One of the best dishes on the menu is seared kangaroo loin served with a Thai-style salad, salted cucumbers and a hot and sour sauce, and while the roo itself comes from beyond the valley, it's the exception rather than the rule. The wine list is estate-only so restaurant manager Camm Whiteoak (ex-Attica) can point out the specific vines that yielded the shiraz you're drinking. The best thing about the new approach is that there's no straining for effect. Stone's food looks pretty without being overworked, the ingredients present for flavour as much as provenance. Factor in the view and relaxed service and Oakridge is a Yarra Valley must-do.

Oakridge Winery, 864 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream, Vic, (03) 9738 9900. Open daily 11.30-5pm.

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