7 June 2010

Bella Vedere

Badger's Brook Estate, 874 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream. Ph: 5962 6161.

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Last month I ate my first degustation meal at Bella Vedere Cucina near Coldstream. We arrived there on time at 7.20pm and we smelt garlic as we walked in, a great sign because I love garlic. On the table were heads of garlic and some fresh bread.

For a starter we were given garlic croquettes. They tasted great. The garlic was strong without being too overpowering.

Then there was a long wait for the first real course of the night, but it wasn’t the restaurant’s fault. It was because a group of loud, annoying women arrived so late.

Anyway, the chefs came out and introduced the courses. We would be having a garlic broth, garlic rabbit, octopus with a grand aioli (which contains 200 cloves of garlic), goat’s cheese soufflé and red fruit and white fruit sorbet with a hint of garlic.

First came the garlic broth. I wasn’t sure I liked it that much. The garlic wasn’t strong enough and it was way too watery for me.

Second came the garlic rabbit. It was by far the best dish of the night. The rabbit was beautifully cooked and the garlic went brilliantly with the meat.

Third came the main course - the octopus and the grand aioli. I liked the octopus but I’m not sure it went too well with grand aioli. The grand aioli was so strong that you could only take little bits on your finger and lick it. If you were to smother it on the octopus it would be enough to knock you out.

After another long wait the chef, Gary Cooper, called me over (as he had said he would earlier) to the kitchen. There I helped plate up the goat’s cheese soufflé. It was quite a good experience. The kitchen was very relaxed and there wasn’t any pressure or shouting. After I’d finished the goat’s cheese soufflé one of the chefs said he would take me to see some mudcrabs they would be using the following day..

The fourth course was the goat’s cheese soufflé. I am no fan of cheese but I still tried it. I didn’t like it very much, mostly because of the cheese factor. I think it was technically correct but it wasn’t my favourite dish.

I was drifting in and out of sleep as another wait for the fifth course, which was the sorbets, followed. Then, at 11.10pm, tired and exhausted, it was time to leave. We had spent almost four hours at the restaurant – not really what I’m used to.

The highlight of the meal was definitely the rabbit and all of the chefs’ kindness to me. Overall I prefer ordering off the menu and I don’t think I would go to a degustation again. It’s more of an adult thing. But I would be interested in returning to Bella Vedere on an order-off-the-menu day.

- james, 12 years old

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