A sunny weekend saw us taking a trip out to the Yarra Valley, armed with a recommendation for lunch at Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander.
Unlike most of the other wineries in the Yarra Valley, Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander isn’t located on an expansive piece of green land – it’s just a straight turnoff from the Maroondah Highway into the carpark. The huge steel building is hard to miss, particularly as it’s located in the same vicinity at the White Rabbit Brewery and an outpost of Beechworth Bakery.
The website describes Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander as a ‘grown-ups’ playground’ and it’s a very apt description for the complex. Under one roof you’ll find a bright, buzzy bistro, a bakery and patisserie, a temperature controlled cheese room and cheese tastings at the counter, a coffee roastery and a selection of gourmet provisions for sale.
As a result of the many activities happening under this cavernous space, just be aware that it is very noisy. The concrete interior bounces all of the music, chatter and sound of kids running around to quite high levels.
The bistro menu covers tapas, pizzas, non-pizza main courses with a comprehensive selection of sides, kids dishes, breakfast, baked goods and desserts thrown in the mix.
After watching the pizza-maker working the organic sourdough dough with his well-practised elegant economy of movement and show-stopping throwing technique, our table of 6 decided to share five pizzas and two salads for lunch.
Very quickly we received our pizzas on ceramic pizza stones – roasted eggplant, barrel- aged feta, red peppers and parsley ($21), roast mushroom, asiago, black truffle oil, roasted garlic and parsley ($23), spicy pork sausage, buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomato and chilli ($23), Calabrese salami, San Marzano tomato, oregano and buffalo mozzarella ($24) and prosciutto, San Marzano tomato, cravero parmesan and parsley ($24), plus two bowls of iceberg, witlof and chive salad ($8.50).
The mark of good pizza is the base and these bases were thin yet held the toppings well and had been wood-fired to bring a hint of smokiness. Everyone agreed that the roast mushroom pizza was particularly outstanding. Earthy, juicy mushrooms enhanced by the heady twin aromas of truffle oil and garlic and topped with melted cheese – a culinary perfect match.
For dessert we each had a spoonful of the bread and butter pudding. It was a huge bowl of wintery comfort food satisfaction for just $10.50 and was made with french pastry, marsala soaked sultanas and vanilla bean custard.
My only complaint was that the custard had split by the time the dish arrived at our table. It didn’t affect the taste but seeing a pool of oil in the pudding (and knowing it was going in my stomach shortly) wasn’t very appealing.
While individually the prices of each pizza were high (when you compare it to say Ladro, Queen Margaret or Espressino), our total bill plus a beer/soft drink per person only divided to $30 a head. A bargain I think for the quality and quantity of food.
If after your meal you’re still up for wine tastings it is available everyday between 10am and 6pm and if you dine in the bistro you’ll receive 10% discount off any take-home wine purchases. You can take also winery tours daily at 11am and 3pm.
Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander, 336 Maroondah Highway, Healesville +61 3 5962 6111
10am to 10pm weekdays
8am to 10pm weekends & public holidays