In the second of this long weekend’s out-of-town series, today we head to Porepunkah (near Bright) in Victoria’s Alpine region.
In my view, a perfect Sunday involves friends, lots of food and a long white table under the shade of a big tree with rolling hills as far as the eye can see.
The setting at Boyton’s Feathertop Cafe is about as close to my imagination as it gets. The outdoor restaurant is part of Boynton’s Feathertop Winery and it’s laid out in the grassy lower terrace in front of the cellar door building amongst huge leafy trees. The atmosphere is relaxed, with sounds of tinkling glasses and laughing people and I couldn’t wait to sample the Japanese-inspired menu from chef Ikuei Arakane, formerly of Melbourne’s Taxi Dining Room.
For lunch Boyton’s Feathertop Cafe offers any two dishes matched with Feathertop wines, a bargain for $45, or you can go a la carte. As we were a group of 20 it was easiest to go with the set menu and there was plenty of choice. I decided on okonomiyaki to start ($15) and the roasted duck breast, confit leg, young fennel salad and chestnut puree as my main ($28) with a side of roast duck fat potatoes ($8) instead of matched wine.
This is where the wheels started to come off. We were all seated at around 12:30pm and our large party was split up into two tables. Different dockets had been placed for each table as the unlucky second table didn’t get to place their order until about 30 minutes after the first table. So we watched hungrily while the first table received their food, then after a very long wait, those who ordered entrees on my table received their dishes.
I inhaled my okonomiyaki in hunger so I don’t have much of an impression of it except that it was quite good with loads of flying bonito flakes, my favourite bit. Strangely, the duck fat potatoes appeared at the same time so I passed them out to those who had ordered mains and desserts and hadn’t been fed yet.
After we’d finished our entrees, the matched wine for the entrée appeared. Umm OK. I also asked repeatedly for water and in the end went into the building myself and handed out jugs of water for everyone. Our dirty plates sat in front of us until 3:30pm when the main courses arrived. I actually had to swap my grotty plate for a new plate of food and I felt like I was in a canteen.
In general the main courses were disappointing. I guess if you’ve been waiting 3 hours for your meal then anything will do, but RM’s BBQ lamb with lentil dahl served with tomato chutney ($28) was distinctly overcooked (the photo is of another person’s lamb).
My roast duck breast was good but my confit leg was not the melt-in-your-mouth texture I’d been expecting – it was pretty dry and almost stringy. I also found the combination of crisp summery fennel and rich chestnut puree a bit of a strange contrast.
The most successful dish appeared to be the dry aged beef, pickled wild mushrooms and bone marrow sauce ($28).
Again, the wines didn’t come with the food until we asked for them. So much for matching as well – our glasses were just sloshed with whatever we asked for (which I guess isn’t such a bad thing if you really didn’t want the matched choice).
I can’t make any comment on the dessert of poached quince, white chocolate mousse, crème fraiche and pear and quince jelly ($12), but I do recall that it took a long time to arrive (again) and frankly it all looked a bit sloppy for my liking.
Overall, I was really disappointed with my lunch at Boyton’s Feathertop Cafe – I really wanted to be wowed by it. But the food was not of the high standard that I was expecting, the service was frankly abysmal and only the gorgeous setting and the company of my friends made the afternoon an enjoyable experience. There’s relaxed, and then there’s unacceptably slow. I certainly won’t be returning.
- Boyton’s Feathertop Cafe, Boyntons Feathertop Winery, 6619 Great Alpine Rd, Porepunkah +61 3 5756 2356