I’d heard rave reviews about Bulong Estate, so when we found ourselves hungry and with an evening to spare last month in the Yarra Valley, it was at the top of our list. When we’d mentioned our dinner plans to the owners of the cottage where we were staying, they’d given a very solemn nod of approval, so we figured we were onto a good thing.
We’ve been fortunate enough to dine at some fairly incredible Hunter Valley restaurants over the past couple of years, so our expectations were high.
Access to Bulong Estate is via a long, winding driveway, lit with small garden lights, a feature that only served to enhance our anticipation.
The terrace wasn’t set for dinner (I assume as a result of the chilly evening), but it was easy to imagine lengthy wine-soaked lunches spent here overlooking the vines. Indeed, Bulong Estate is a winery, first and foremost, so we weren’t all that surprised to find their wine list contained only their own product. Strangely though, they did not offer any beers, or any sparkling wine. When we enquired about the latter, we were offered an expensive bottle of French champagne (a seemingly recurring theme over this weekend!) but we had to politely decline as a) we felt it was overpriced and b) Max was driving, and whilst I do enjoy the odd glass of champagne or two, taking responsibility for the lion’s share of a bottle was a big ask. Instead, we both opted for a glass of their home grown wine, for me, the Fumé Blanc (a sauvignon varietal), and Max, the house Rosé (and the search continues..).
I decided against an entrée, as we’d had a delicious aperitif at the cottage and I’d spied some tempting dessert options on offer. Max chose a dish of fried oysters, scallops and prawns and was very pleased with the flavours.
As I still wasn’t particularly hungry (a rare, but possible occurrence), I elected to forgo a man-sized main and instead try the soup of the day – a delicious melange of lentilles du puy, succulent pork belly pieces and seasonal vegetables. It over-delivered on flavour and was more than enough for me. Max chose, not the duck as I had assumed, but the porterhouse steak with garlic butter, accompanied by the most sumptuous potatoes I’ve ever tasted.
Ordinarily, we’d be tempted by a cheese plate (and indeed, the menu description of Comte, Brie D’Affinois and Cashel Blue was enticing), but we’d had quite a lot of fromage earlier in the day, so turned our attention immediately to dessert. Whilst the green tea sponge roll intrigued me, my inner chocaholic could not pass up the chocolate fondant served with white chocolate mousse and a vibrant red berry coulis. Max of course, ordered the same.
Decadent does not begin to describe this dessert, which offered a chocolate so rich it coated the roof of your mouth. The mousse was equally indulgent and the combination teetered on the edge of over-the-top, were it not for the fresh berry sauce that brought it back from the brink. I was fiercely protective of my plate as the owner joked that I might need some help from Max, but just over halfway in I had to concede defeat, and pass the rest over to my very grateful fiancé.
From the moment we walked in, we felt as if we were dining in somebody’s elegant lounge room. Space was plentiful and white gloss and chrome abounded, pleasingly offset by a rich red and gold Persian rug through the centre. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and that dessert will live on in our memories for much longer than it spent on the plate.
All images courtesy of the Bulong Estate Website.