The restaurant is enormous but is divided into a bar, cafe and restaurant. All the windows are floor to ceiling and offer panaromic views of the vineyards and the surrounding countryside. Ask for a window view if you can!
At lunch time Isabella’s offer a la carte as well as a two course ($55) or three course ($63) lunch where you can choose your dishes. We opted for the two course option – it was an easy decision as none of the five entrees particularly appealed to me but many of the desserts did! So we started off with oven baked fillet of salmon with Port Phillip Bay mussels and local Mallard confit duck leg with smoked duck breast.
On first glance both portions were very large and artistically presented. My fish was cooked right to the point of doneness, so it was still juicy and not dry and flaky. The delicate Rochford Chardonnay Marinières sauce was frothy and lightly fragrant and balanced well with the delicacy of the fish. I also enjoyed the detail of the potato ‘stones’ – potatoes boiled or steamed and coated with fine grey ash. My only very minor quibble was that the skin of the ocean trout was not crispy and I think it was intended to be, but all the other elements were excellent and outweighed this detail.
Both cuts of the duck was also cooked perfectly to retain the moisture of the rich meat with no hint of stringy dryness. The confit leg in particular forked off the bone with little effort. The accompanying pickled red cabbage was unexpectedly sweet due to the addition of blackberries and its rich burgundy hue gave the dish a luxurious look.
My highlight was the dessert. RM’s ‘Death by chocolate’ was described as chocolate sponge, Belgium chocolate ganache, griottine cherries, hazelnut praline powder. What appeared was a moderately small slice of rich chocolate delice scattered with berries. A delicious but fairly run of the mill ‘fine-dining’ chocolate dessert.
In contrast, my tiramisu could have easily been a dessert for two or three people and the presentation of it in a flower pot was cleverly whimsical. The contents of the terracotta pot were just as delightful – marsala soaked sponge, lashings of mascarpone and a top layer of chocolate ‘soil’ to lend textural interest to the mix. I think the tiramisu in a pot is, or will become, a signature dish!
Our experience at Isabella’s at Rochford Wines was excellent, from the food to the service to the ambience. To work off your lunch you have a ramble in the vines or do some shopping in the cellar door and produce store of local goods.
It’s a great stopping point for a day out in the Yarra Valley which affords scenic skylines, fresh air and great wines just an hour from Melbourne.
Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878-880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream 03 5962 2119