Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Red Shed Cafe

Medhurst Rd, Gruyere, www.redshedcafe.com.au

Just like in inner city Melbourne, where if you get off the beaten track, you'll find some of the coolest and best cafes and restaurant's in the back streets and laneways, the Yarra Valley is no different. Get out of the main towns and off the main roads and you'll find some amazing little places, which are still kept reasonably secret. One of those places that I have heard whispers about was Red Shed Cafe, which is located the beautiful Medhurst winery in Gruyere, 10 minutes from Coldstream.

The cafe was started by two beautiful young ladies, -(well according to their photos on their website) best friends, Maggie and Frances. Frances' family actually own the winery, where the cafe is based.

The cafe isn't a 'shed' and the only Red Shed that we saw, was a little one along the driveway, on the way in. The cafe is almost completely glass on one side, which takes advantage of the amazing views across the paddocks in front of the building. On a nice day, you can sit out on the deck and eat your lunch on the colourful tolix stools and beach style chairs. On the day we visited, it was a beautiful day in Melbourne, but unfortunately, the weather was less than perfect in the Yarra Valley. We pulled up a stool at the bar against the window and watched the rain pour down.

The cafe has that slightly industrial feel with the Tolix stools and chairs, big long communal tables, wooden panelling, which comfortably suits the beautiful winery environment.

Since the weather was very ordinary, it was definately Hot Chocolate time! Big colourful mugs, rich, sweet chocolate taste, just the way I like it.

The menu is mostly sandwiches and very basic cooked lunches. We went with the Smoked Yarra Valley Trout Sandwich, with Dill, Radish Tomato and Rocket ($14.50), which was simply delicious. It was very, very rich, however and we did struggle to finish the whole thing - especially after our equally rich Hot Choccies. I have to admit that this is the most expensive sandwich I've ever eaten and as good as it was, I'm not sure it was worth the $14.50.

Red Shed apparently does amazing breakfasts also. Something I'll definately love to go back and try, especially on a beautiful spring morning - when it's not raining!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Merricks General Store

3458 Frankston Flinders Rd, Merricks VIC 3916, (03) 5989 8088

What does one do when they feel like they've been to almost every decent breakky spot in Melbourne? They drive to the country, of course! We set off early on a Saturday morning via the luxurious new Eastlink Freeway, to find a town called Merrick, down near Red Hill on the Mornington Penninsula.
The drive took about an hour and a half from Fitzroy, via Eastlink, which meant no stops until Frankston. Which is ironic really, because isn't Frankston the place where most people would prefer not to stop?
Merrick's General Store is situated on a nice little country road, just out of Red Hill and has views looking out the water. Spectacular spot. The General Store was of course once a General Store, but now has been transformed into an amazing country cafe / restaurant / cellar door.

The menu doesn't offer any particularly exciting options, or anything really out of the usual. The menu doesn't appear to be overly cheap, either. But, since we're in the country, they're probably using amazing, locally grown produce, or you would at least hope so.

After a long drive, I need sustainance, so I ordered the Merricks General Big Breakfast- two eggs, bacon, tomato, baked beans and little pork sausages ($19 - the most I've paid for breakfast in a long time). The poached eggs, were perfectly shaped little egg sacks- a shape I wish my poached eggs would turn out like. The bacon was delicious, the baked beans had potential with big chunks of what appeared to be ham hock in there. However the beans were a little watery and just may not have been cooked down quite enough. The roast tomatoes were ok, but the little sausages were nothing much different from your standard backyard BBQ snags. Nothing like the amazing Maple Sausages that you get from Harvest Cafe in Healesville.

Em' ordered the Eggs Benedict, toasted muffin, two poached eggs, hollandaise sauce & house cured ocean trout ($18). Em' was very happy with her breakky, apart from the fact that the hollandaise and poached eggs tasted quite 'vinegary'. Other than that, the House Cured Ocean Trout was particularly delicious!

Merrick's General Store is a beautiful room and would be great to check out this place for a proper lunch or dinner. However, the breakfast wasn't worth driving all that way for. Although, I would consider going back if we happened to be staying in the area.