The Eleonores restaurant in Chateau Yering, Yarra Valley (named after the wife of the Swiss migrant Dr. Jean Francois Paul de Castella who bought the mock Chateau from its owners in the late 1800s), reminded me yet again that a dining experience is not just about food.
The old heavy chintz drapery and dark pink damask chairs were authentic features of that period. However it would only have needed a skilful architect and clever designer to turn this grand old dame into an elegant but refreshed dining space. Europe has plenty of examples of opulent restaurants where the period elegance has been given a face lift without destroying heritage values.
All that was new in this dining spot was the chef Mathew Macartney of Lake House, Daylesford fame.
This was Sunday lunch on what should have been one of the busiest nights in the Yarra Valley – Lionel Ritchie was performing in the Rochford estate Winery at dusk – and yet the restaurant was deathly quiet. We were one of two tables that were occupied in this expansive dining room.
The waiting staff left a lot to be desired – polite and knowledgeable – but hard to look past the scruffiness of our waitress. She sported white fluff all over her black tunic uniform which would have been a turn-off to most guests. In addition the finer touches of waiting on diners must have escaped her, as she hovered impatiently around the table and tried several times to pick our crockery long before we had obviously finished.
And yet the food was good (although I did feel that the presentation was more accomplished than the taste or quality of the food). Some dishes were more complicated than they needed to be. The menu comprised 2, 3 or 4 course options and also a chef tasting menu.
But as I have been reminded again – it is the total dining experience not just the food that leaves behind the taste of a truly memorable occasion
Not somewhere I would recommend unless they did something to refresh the dining room. The sister restaurant Yering Wine Bar is a whole different experience – modern australian served up with sweeping magnificent views of the Valley. You can almost forget some slips in the food or service when you are distracted by such a view.