I always say I’m not really a birthday person, but that’s not strictly true. I don’t like to celebrate my own birthday, but I enjoy celebrating other people’s. And by celebrating, I mean: torturing.
And by torturing, I mean torturing with love and attention and cake OF COURSE.
(And birthday lasagne, but only for the very special ones.)
But for my most recent birthday in December, I was keen to do something because reasons. It was on a Friday, so I thought it would be nice to have a long weekend away.
After some brainstorming, I decided on Beechworth because it’s close enough to be an easy (but boring) drive from Melbourne, but far away enough to justify staying there overnight.
After birthday brunch and birthday doughnuts at Cobb Lane, we left for Beechworth, arriving in the town in the early afternoon.
It’s a lovely town, with a well preserved historical centre, and like many of Victoria’s towns, its heyday was during the gold rush era in the mid-1850s. Nowadays, as well as the historical interest, it’s also a great food and wine destination.
And one of Beechworth’s prime eateries? Provenance – a 2 hatted restaurant.
As well as being a fine dining restaurant, Provenance also has four accommodation suites at the back of the property in what used to be a carriage house and stable. Since we were having my birthday dinner at the restaurant, we also booked one of the suites for that evening.
There’s three suites on the bottom floor and one upstairs. Ours was tucked away in the corner on the lower level, and inside it was stylish and simply decorated in a neutral palette of beige, white, and chocolate brown, with a very comfortable king-sized bed.
And the bathroom – wheeee. It had a spa bath, double shower heads, and twin sinks. Pretty much my dream bathroom.
After checking into our suite, we then went for a walk, ending up at Bridge Road Brewers for a couple of beers and pretzels to tide us over until dinner time.
The weather that weekend was amazing – still and hot – so the beer was very welcome. Bridge Road Brewers has something like ten of their beers on tap. Unfortunately (fortunately?) we didn’t have time to try them all.
Back at Provenance, after a brief rest, we went to the main restaurant for dinner. The restaurant is in a building that used to be the Bank of Australasia, originally constructed in 1856, with the dining room being at the front of the building.
You can do a la carte at Provenance, but why drive all that way and not do the degustation, right? We had the 6 course degustation with matched wines.
Dinner was served with bread and an amazing smoked miso butter. The miso butter was incredible, incredible, incredible.
Course 1: vegetables, pickles, okayu sauce, puffed rice, umeboshi.
Wine match: 2011 Castro Martin Sobre Lias Albarion, Rias Baixas, Spain OR 2013 Chiyo Shuzo “Shinomine Chokara”, Nara, Japan
Our first course was made up of vegetables, pickles, a Japanese rice porridge sauce, puffed rice and umeboshi. This dish was like a celebration of vegetables – it was beautifully presented with various textural contrasts and a bit of sourness coming through from both the pickles and the umeboshi.
Course 2: Roasted cauliflower, raw cauliflower, yuzu dressing, fish floss, cumquat
Wine match: 2013 Dal Zotto Arneis, King Valley
The second course was another vegetable celebration – this time cauliflower. I love cauliflower, so, unsurprisingly, I really loved this. The contrast between the roasted cauliflower and raw/pickled cauliflower was great, and coupled with the tangy, slight bitterness from the yuzu and cumquat, it made for a very interesting and tasty dish.
Course 3: Prawns, zucchini, prawn bisque, coastal succulents
Wine match: 2012 Oxenbury Vineyard Nebbiolo, Beechworth
Course three involved large prawns, fresh and sweet, in a flavoursome bisque foam. The succulents were like a briney reminder of the ocean.
Course 4: Pork cheek cooked in hay, grain salad, blood pudding, crisp pork skin, coriander
Wine match: 2010 Eldorado Road Quasimodo blend, NE Victoria
The pork cheek was wonderful, tender and juicy, and came served on top of a grain salad, with tiny cubes of blood pudding.
Course 5: Sher wagyu beef, eggplant, braised daikon, ginger sauce, candied kombu
Wine match: 2010 Golden Ball Gallice Cabernet Blend, Beechworth
Our last savoury dish was a wagyu, which I promise was not as blurry in person (darkness + wine does not equal sharp shots). The meat was good, with a lovely depth of flavour, and it paired well with the candied kombu.
Course 6: Wooragee strawberries, green tea mousse, sake kasu sherbert, shiso meringue
Wine match: 2010 Domain Pichot Moelleux, Vouvray, France OR 2007 Umetsu Nokyou Umeshu, Tottori, Japan
And finally, we had a really lovely dessert: sweet and creamy, and very elegant.
There are also two optional courses – a silken tofu at the beginning of the meal, and a cheese course before dessert, which we didn’t opt for.
The degustation at Provenance is $100 or $155 with matching wines – a very reasonable price for the quality of the meal.
The next morning we had a lovely cooked breakfast with excellent bacon (included in the price of accommodation) and did the Gorge Scenic Drive before heading down to Milawa for a night.
Beechworth and dinner at Provenance was a lovely, lovely way to celebrate my birthday. It’s in a beautiful part of Victoria and worth a visit. Perhaps I should change things up and celebrate my birthday like this every year.
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86 Ford Street
Beechworth VIC 3747
Phone: 03 5728 1786