Saturday, 17 November 2012

Restaurant Review: Locale (De Bortoli Winery and Restaurant)

Location: De Bortoli Yarra Valley, Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek
Phone: 03 5965 2271
Cuisine: Italian, Coffee
Overall Impression: 9/10

The weather is warming up and plants are blossoming, revealing their gorgeous springtime colour. While the Yarra Valley is beautiful all year round, spring is a brilliant time to visit. Many inspiring private gardens open to the public and the National Rhododendron Gardens’ Spring Floral Display is in full bloom. In addition to the stunning scenery, J and I love the Yarra Valley for its beautiful food and, of course, spectacular wine.

But from all of the wonderful food on offer, there is only one Yarra Valley restaurant that has truly captured our hearts - Locale (the restaurant attached to the De Bortoli winery in Dixons Creek).

The dining area is spacious, elegant and exudes an air of calm. The wide windows allow the sun to trickle in and present magical views out to the De Bortoli vineyard and the broader Yarra Ranges. The sense of true Italian hospitality is palpable, echoed in the modern Italian menu prepared using high quality, fresh ingredients which are often locally sourced. The service is always friendly and efficient.

A special mention must be given to the wonderful head waiter Tony, who is always warm and


One of the things J and I look forward to when we visit De Bortoli is their bread. Whilst this may seem like a strange point of focus in a restaurant review, the bread is absolutely moreish. Fresh, fluffy and moist, it is almost cake-like in texture and is coated in a layer of salty polenta. In our opinion, it is by far the most delicious bread served at any restaurant. J could be quite happy eating just the bread for lunch, dipped in some beautiful extra virgin olive oil.

As usual, each dish was cooked perfectly. 
Pan seared scallops with pea crush and local Yarra Valley black truffle

Our scallops were plump, perfectly seared and tasted sweet and fresh. 
Parmesan and potato gnocchi with pork sausage, saffron, tomato and chilli

The gnocchi was divine and obviously made with love. As with all good gnocchi, it was soft and pillow-like, providing an ideal canvas for the intense flavour of the pork sausages and saffron. 
Pan fried dory fillet with black venere rice, broccolini, cime di rapa, fresh chilli, garlic and biodynamic olive oil

The fish skin was beautifully crisp and the flesh was deliciously moist and tender – perfectly cooked. 
Oven roasted pork belly with Italian style lentils, baby spinach and apple and rosemary chutney 

The pork belly was tender throughout and topped with a delicious layer of crispy crackling. 
Milawa free range chicken, pan roasted aromatic spices, sautéed potatoes and cavalo nero

The chicken dish was hearty and once again, cooked perfectly. 

affogato con zeppole - vanilla gelato & italian doughnuts served with de bortoli black noble 

The affogato dessert was outstanding. We were given a whole bottle of De Bortoli black noble and told to help ourselves! The Vanilla gelato was rich and indulgent and paired beautifully with the doughnuts that were crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. This is one of the best versions of an affogato we have come across. 

Biscotti and coffee were, as always, a perfect end to the meal. 

Every now and then a restaurant manages to capture a place in your heart. Locale is such a place. More than just the high quality of the food and wines on offer, Locale transports you to another world where all of the stresses of modern, city living evaporate and life is a lot simpler. Despite having eaten at Locale countless times already, it continues to draw us back time and again and has rightfully claimed a spot in our favourite restaurants of all time.

Locale at De Bortoli Vineyard on Urbanspoon
De Bortoli Winery and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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