My partner decided today that, since I have never been to a winery before, that he was going to show me around some of Victoria's finest. It is utterly appropriate therefore, that today's restaurant review be for a winery restaurant.
It isn't - it's for a brewery.
Holgate's Bar and Restaurant is a local brewery in Woodend, Victoria. While it isn't quite the same calibre of boutique brewery as, say, Little Creatures (Fremantle, WA), it does a very nice (albeit limited range) of boutique beers. Although I can't tell you for sure, since none of them are gluten free.
However, quite a lot of their food was (or could be adapted to be) - the knowledgeable and friendly staff were able to point me in the direction of the Chilli Lamb Salad. They also unfortunately suggested the Paramatta Farms Pinot Grigio, which was, frankly, unpalatable (to my, admittedly, very unsophisticated palette - the acidity was completely overwhelming). None the less, with the wine omitted, the salad itself was surprisingly delicious - for $19, one does not typically expect perfectly rare lamb with subtle hints of smokiness complementing the sweet and tangy glaze. Served on a bed of (slightly wilted) rocket with balsamic dressing, with red onion, feta and olives (that were admittedly from a jar, but no worse the wear for that), it made a lovely lunch to start a day of wine tasting.
Wine choice aside (and really, who can blame a pub that specializes in beer for that?), the only real dampener on the whole experience was the ambience. Although the pub was clean with a friendly buzz, the afternoon was spoiled by the addition of a screaming toddler. Normally, I don't hold that kind of thing against a restaurant - but this child had a voice that could shatter glass. Repeatedly. And the acoustics created by the large vaulted ceiling did not help. Although one can hardly blame the restaurant for the behaviour of the child of a guest, it completely ruined the atmosphere.
All in all, a lovely country lunch - just avoid it when there are families around. And please - don't bring your kids.
Service = 4/5. Speedy, efficient and friendly. Orders are placed at the bar where the (very knowledgeable) staff can help you out. Who can ask for more?
Ambience = 2/5. Although the room was clean, well decorated and showed a history of the pub and brewery out the back (normally things I appreciate), all was shattered by the screaming of a small child - I couldn't notice anything else!
Value = 3.5/5. Excellent value - only one meal (the mixed grill) over $20. Serving sizes are generous and quality is excellent.
Taste = 3.5/5. Absolutely delicious. Perfectly tender, juicy lamb backstraps in a delicately balanced glaze. Sides were less lovingly attended to, but still yummy.
Overall = 13/20. A lovely country lunch spot - worth the drive to Woodend. Preferably sans small children.