Tokar Estate Winery & Restaurant – Yarra Valley

Have you ever been driving down the Maroondah Hwy through Coldstream on the way to Healesville and seen the Spanish style, beautiful orange roof buildings amongst acres and hills of grape vines and trees?

Well, that place is Tokar Estate Winery. Having been to Healsville several times and eaten at Bella Vedere, I wanted to checkout Tokar Estate Winery solely because of its picturesque views of the valley and skyline.

Obviously this shows that harvest is finished, winter has kicked in, the air crisp and cold but the views still take your breath away. Tokar Estate is not all about the wines, they also have a beautiful family owned restaurant with inside and alfresco dining open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.

The restaurant is run by Leon and Rita Tokar who are very lovely hosts and gave their time to talk to myself and my partner and answered all the questions we threw at them.We arrived for lunch took some beautiful pictures outside and made our way into the restaurant. We built ourselves a little bit of an appetite and didn’t waste any time to order. We learnt that the menu changes every 2 weeks or so depending on some of the produce from the local markets and the vegetables and herbs they grow in the garden.

We also learnt from Leon that there’s no beef farmers in the Yarra Valley so it’s obviously sourced elsewhere but there is a game meat supplier in the area which they source venison and rabbit from (yummm!). Unfortunately they weren’t on the menu that day. To wet our taste pallets we ordered a tasting plate of liver parfait, bruchetta, cheese and other nibblies.

The tasting plate definitely got the ball rolling and my favourite was the liver parfait with crackers and a bit of this pickled radish type side. Also tried some mushroom soup which was creamy and delish.For mains we had a Salmon with potato kipflers dressed in honey mustard sauce and a beef steak served with a layered potato slice and vegetables.To complement our dishes our waiter suggested the Chardonnay for our entrees and Tokar’s signature wine the Tempranillo for our mains. Good choice waiter! The Tempranillo went very well with the steak. Next time we serve up some steak for dinner I’m going get the family to try this out.Now to my favourite course, dessert. My partner and I were keen to get one dessert to share but then our wandering and greedy eyes got us ordering the assiette of desserts (served on one large late) which landed us three very nice and super good tasting desserts.Here we have a dark chocolate ganache tart served with homemade vanilla ice-cream. To get the full enjoyment out of it you had to eat each component combined with the vanilla ice-cream.Above we have the chocolate moose served with a berry side. This was my partners favorite and I couldn’t agree more. The moose and tart it was in cased in was beautiful and together with the berry, it was a match made in heaven.The cheesecake looked amazing and instead of a biscuit base there’s macadamia nuts which go really well with the cheesecake and don’t forget to have it with the vanilla consummate.I waited until the restaurant cleared a little so I could take this wonderful picture of the view from inside the restaurant. If you’re seated near the window or sitting out on the alfresco dining area you can enjoy the beautiful food, fresh air and picturesque scenery of the valley. Perfect for a romantic day or night out and make sure to book on the weekends as they can get quite busy.Tokar Estate Winery and Restaurant has been ticked off on my Yarra Valley to do list and can be put onto my to visit again in spring or summer list. The tasting plate and desserts were the highlights for me and I enjoyed the Tempranilla wine which I will be trying again. Good food, good wine and great scenery makes Tokar Estate a must do on the Yarra Valley list.

A big thank you to Yarra Valley Secrets for organising a table for me at Tokar Estate on a very last minute notice and thank you to Leon and Rita Tokar for their very warm hospitality.

Location: 6 Maddens Lane, Coldstream, VIC 3770
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Phone: (03) 5964 9585

 

Bella Vedere – Fresh Produce from the Yarra Valley

Bella Vedere Sign Post
Bella Vedere, I learnt Italian when I was in high school and I definitely know Bella means Beautiful. With “Vedere”, I mistakenly thought it was Verde which is the colour Green in Italian so I had to look the word Vedere up. Google says it means ‘to see’, ‘to look at’, ‘meet’, ‘visit’, etc…

So If I put the two words together, “Bella Vedere”, I would say it means something like Beautiful To See. But I went further and consulted Google Translate and it told me it means Nice To See.

OK, enough Italian for today. Lets talk about Bella Vedere. Gary Cooper is part owner and head chef of Bella Vedere and has maintained a one hat Michelin rating for Bella Vedere three years in a row. I can’t believe I ate there and didn’t realise he was in the kitchen cooking my lunch (If I paid more attention I would of taken a photo with him).As you drive in, you’re greeted with a lovely town house building with some grape plantation on either side. The grapes were covered, most likely to protect the grapes as it was a week before harvest time when I went.The front is welcoming, with a small section on the right dedicated for wine tasting and on the left is the Bella Bakehouse for when you walk into the restaurant you are drawn in by the freshly baked bread.As you walk past the small bakery, you see a wall of local produce. Did I mention, Bella Vedere is known for using local produce that make up their menu and the menu always changes from season to season or available stock.In the back, they have their own garden where a number of their vegetables and fruits are sourced from. You can also see their neighbour from the garden which from memory was Oakridge Vineyard which looked spectacular.On the left hand side of the corridor directly after the jars of local produce you are tempted with freshly baked cakes and dessert. I think the first dessert pictured below is tiramisu. If you duck your head and have a peek inside the kitchen, the chef’s are very welcoming and are happy to say hello. The restaurant is nice and cosy, white clothed tables, dressed with cutlery for a three course meal, freshly baked bread and fresh flowers and produce from the garden. There’s also a bar and an open kitchen for all to see.The waiters were very helpful and polite and offered water and wine as we settled onto our table. There were 7 of us for lunch and we heard great things about this restaurant so we weren’t about to hold back. We started with entree…scampi…Ox Tounge salad…Thickly Cut chips with egg and another one with some special sauceWhile we were waiting for the food, some of us went outside to look at the garden and as everyone walked back in Miss J, casually started a convo with one of the chefs. Who convinced her to order some smoked or grilled eel that he was preparing. Later on we realised she was speaking to Gary Cooper. The eel’s skin was quite rubbery but was warned by Gary to take off the skin. I think the eel was grilled but it had a real smokey flavour to it which I didn’t mind.
Not onto the lunch mains…don’t let the pictures deceive you, these dishes were a treat and I would recommend all of them but then again, when you visit the restaurant, the menu most likely would of changed or there would be a slight variant.
Half a duck, looks small on photo but looked fairly large on the plate.Next we have quail. The entree serves one quail and the main serves two. If you’re not hungry I suggest just the one will satisfy you.A thinly slice minute cooked steak is next on the list which we though was going to be a small dish but it was fairly sized and filled up the two that ordered it. It looks thick on the photo, but it’s actually a thin slice of beef ontop of mash potato or vegetables.My favourite was probably the rabbit dish which I scabbed some off Miss J. The dish looks small on the photo but it was a generous serving of rabbit.Two of us were game enough to try something that sounds pretty disgusting but as foodies, we were up for anything. And that dish was “LAMB BRAINS“!!! I’m not pulling your leg, look at the pictures below. It was pure lamb brains with a nice tangy sauce.Here’s a close up of the lamb brains with the outer layer peeled off. YUMMMMM!!!I have to admit, it did get a bit sickening after the 5th piece. It would of been nice with some rice, in my opinion.

We made sure we made some room for dessert. A bit of tiramisu, strawberry cheesecake & a rich chocolate ganache cake with a biscuit casing.

I came with little expectation and an empty stomach and either way I definitely enjoyed the dishes, the setting, the service, the company and the fresh air of the country side. Make it a day trip, there’s definitely plenty to do in the Yarra Valley area. Make sure to visit some other places around the area such as Domaine Chandon, Little Creatures Brewery, The White Rabbit Brewery, Healsville Sanctuary and so much more.

Location:874 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream VIC 3770
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