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The Provenance - Thu, 24th Sep 2009
86 Ford St, Beechworth.
Ph: 03 5728 1786
http://www.theprovenance.com.au/restaurant.html
Prices: Six Course Degustation $85/$135 with/without wines
Style: Regional Contemporary
20th Aug 2017
   

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Review by Lachie
A journey worth taking

Since starting this website I have been under more pressure when organising dinners for other people than I used to be. I'm now seen as one of the go-to guys when deciding where to eat, and if the meal is a let down I often feel as if it's somehow my fault. The flip side of this of course, is that when I invite people to dinners at places they wouldn't usually go and have a fantastic time it's actually quite heartening. And so it was when travelling to Beechworth for a work retreat, thanks to The Provenance.

If I'd wanted to shed my foodie reputation amongst workmates, the evening started badly, when I was met (by name) at the door by the chef and owner Michael Ryan. As a fellow twitter user he knew I would be there this particular evening, and I'd hoped I might be able to say hello at some point, but being greeted in such a manner still felt like an honour. I hope my dining companions were suitably impressed.

We had all pretty much agreed on the six course degustation for $85 before we turned up, ($135 with matched wines), although when researching I thought it was only four courses and still thought it was a pretty good deal. One of us, let's call her "Bec" (because that's her name), took a little convincing after carefully studying the a la carte menu, but when she was reassured that it would be no trouble to swap out a few of the degustation menu items for corresponding courses on the vegetarian degustation to avoid certain ingredients decided it was one in all in. It turned out to be a good move on her part.

The food was amazing, and not at all what I had expected. Although had I done my research properly I probably should have expected it. The first two dishes were common to both the normal degustation and the vegetarian version Confit baby artichokes, buffalo mozzerella, pangrattato,tomato butter and Butter sauteed cauliflower, cauliflower puree, Mt Buffalo hazelnut-polenta crumble, brown butter jelly, mustard sabayon. Both wonderful in both flavours and particularly textures, with hidden surprises (the tomato butter was delicious, and the brown butter jelly as good as it sounds). The following two dishes House made orecchiette, cime di rape, Sicilian anchovies, garlic, chilli and Calamarti-seared and slow cooked, crisp chorizo, Jerusalem artichoke-raw and cooked, orange, squid ink, capers formed the seafood portion of the meal. My highlight was always going to be the Crisp pork belly, slow cooked carrots, carrot puree, sumac, prawns, Moroccan spices, but I also had a soft spot for the dessert, a simple dish with some exciting twists: Worragee strawberries, pressed green tea cake, scorched pistachios, marmalade cream; strawberry cordial, jelly, paper, powder. That's a whole lot of different strawberry textures on one plate. And it was delicious.

Another point worth mentioning is the wines which accompany each of the dishes. While I expected a lean towards the local (which there was for the last two dishes - an 06 Smiths Shiraz and an NV Pennyweight Gold), there were several imported selections which added an element of surprise and unfamiliar. At least to me, I'm still in my infancy in terms of increasing wine knowledge from beyond our shores. A German riesling, a Spanish Rose, and a French Gamay were all interesting matches. Some of them (the rose in particular) seemed unconventional choices, but I though it worked (Dave may have more to say on this point).

At the end of the night, once we were all a bit more relaxed and comfortable, we once again got a chance to chat to Michael Ryan. Firstly to thank him for the wonderful evening (and highlight of our trip), and also to congratulate him on the recent accolades which had been bestowed upon his establishment The Age Good Food Guide's Best New Country Restaurant. And although I may be vastly unqualified to say so, I suggest The Provenance deserves all the accolades it gets.

 

We ate:

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Your Comments...
  Posted by Sebastian , 01:34pm Sat, 13th Feb, 2010
    I was impressed by your personal greeting, and then by your fellow food blogger/twitterer who happened to be dining the same night recognising somehow...
 
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