Bright 09: Eating Out in Victoria’s Alpine High Country

We spent the first 10 days of 09 in Bright, Victoria. It rocked.

Bright is a small town in the Ovens Valley, in Victoria’s Alpine High Country. It’s freaking lovely, especially in summer – wildflowers are in bloom, stone fruit, nuts, berries, various fruit and vege are fresh and delicious, as are the local wines, cheeses, mustards and breads. The air is crisp, the sun is out, the river is sparkling and freezing refereshing. The boys ride their bikes up big hills, we romp around the valley, lie under trees, read books, take naps, visit markets, take photos and boy, do we eat!

I’m splitting the Bright blogging into three posts – eating out and eating in, and local producers, and sorry they might be kinda long. Here is eating out.

A quick note about the eating out: I am only posting those places that we both visited and loved. We ate/drank at a few other places that I’m not covering, but there were also many wineries, cafes and restaurants in the area we didn’t make it to, so this is by no means a definitive guide – just my recommendations 🙂

Food Wine Friends
2/6 Ireland Street, Bright
(03) 5750 1312

Food Wine Friends serves great coffee, some tasty breakkies and has a range of quiches, foccacias, tarts and scones, muffins etc, but more importantly, they stock all the best local products – Milawa Mustards, Granny’s Pantry relishes, Jim Jams jams and relishes (omg), Milawa cheeses, AND a great selection of local wines (we even bought bottles here cheaper than at the cellar door! ok, only 5c, but still cheaper!). It’s great, and our regular for the morning coffees, but we don’t call it Food Wine Friends. We call it Cute Girl Cafe, because all the girls who work there are cute! Breakkies/light lunches + coffee $10-17-ish per person.

a crema covered long black @ Food Wine Friends
a crema covered long black @ Food Wine Friends
A BLT with beans and hasbrown as add-ons @ The Butter Factory
A BLT with beans and hashbrown as add-ons @ The Butter Factory
Eggs Florentine plus local trout @ The Butter Factory
Eggs Florentine plus local trout @ The Butter Factory
The Butter Factory
15 Myrtle St, Myrtleford
(03) 5752 2300

We popped over to Myrtleford for breakfast one morning, to sample their housemade butter (of course) and everyone at the table was delighted with the coffees and selections of local sourdough, homemade beans, local trout, organic eggs and cured bacon, homemade hashbrowns, holandaisse, mushrooms etc etc. Breakkies + coffee $15-25 per person. oh, and I didn’t yet mention the venison chorizo and olive baked eggs, did I? delicious!

Baked eggs with venison chorizo and olives @ The Butter Factory
Baked eggs with venison chorizo and olives @ The Butter Factory
Seafood stuffed zucchini flowers @ Simone's of Bright
Seafood stuffed zucchini flowers @ Simone's of Bright
Chocolate Plate @ Simone's of Bright
Chocolate Plate @ Simone's of Bright
Simone’s of Bright
98 Gavan Street, Bright
(03) 5755 2266

Umbrian-inspired, highly locally-sourced Simone’s was on our must-do list, and should also be on yours. Awarded 2 hats in The Age Good Food Guide 2009, we each enjoyed 3 courses of seafood-stuffed zucchini flowers, cannelloni, prawn and watermelon salad, rabbit, duck, Angus beef and melt-in-your-mouth goat, tiramasu, chocolate plates.. as well as great wines, great service and a lovely atmosphere in Simone’s candlelit cottage, for about $100 per person! (we went easy in the wine). Unfortunately, the lens that had been playing up all holiday decided to really throw a tantrum, and I have hardly any photos of the food – but trust me, it was gorgeous!

Blue eye cod bruschetta @ Brown Bros Epicurean Centre
Blue eye cod bruschetta @ Brown Bros Epicurean Centre
rustic pie @ Brown Bros Epicurean Centre
rustic pie @ Brown Bros Epicurean Centre
Spatchcock w truffle butter @ Brown Bros Epicurean Centre
Spatchcock w truffle butter @ Brown Bros Epicurean Centre
Brown Brothers Epicurean Centre
Bobbinawarrah Road, Milawa
(03) 5720 5540

After visiting the cellar door last year, a lazy lunch at Brown Bros was also on our to-do list this year. A quick zip over to Milawa (and a stop over at the cheese factory and Milawa Mustards to stock up the esky) and then an afternoon of great wines – selected with the help of our sommelier Rebecca – matched to 3 courses of our choice. Great-great-great were the rabbit lasagne, the bruschetta of blue eye cod with onion and currants (omg), boar sausage rustic pie and the spatchcocked baby chicken with truffle butter, and wow, the flourless chocolate tart, and the unbelievable caramelised peach tart. The food was a little bit hit and miss – nothing was downright terrible, but I guess there is always the danger of serious menu envy at a table for 7! Brown Brothers is also great value – each course is matched with 3 wine suggestions, or you can take your choice from off menu (though Michael – chef? head sommelier? – may get his knickers in a knot if he doesn’t like your choice!!). Entrees are $12-20, mains $20-35, desserts $15, each including an accompanying wine choice. We paid around $60 per person, and got to try – and then rushed over to the cellar door to purchase – some lovely drops we may never have discovered without doing the Epicurean Centre experience. Worth it! Bookings recommended – we sat near the door and saw several hopeful groups turned away.

choc torte with vanillabean icecream @ Brown Bros Epicurean Centre
Choc torte with vanillabean icecream @ Brown Bros Epicurean Centre
Caramelised Peach tart @ Brown Bros Epicurean Centre
Caramelised Peach tart @ Brown Bros Epicurean Centre
Morrie’s Homemade Icecreamery
Great Alpine Road, Harrietville
(03) 5759 2612

OMG. Go. To. Morries. As. Soon. As. You. Can. Not only is this kickass homemade icecream and gelato, in unbelievable flavours using local ingredients (local hazelnuts, strawberries, wild river plums!!!), they did something I have never, ever seen in all my icecream eating years: they chipped off several long chunks from the tub, and carefully slotted them into the waffle cone. And then still built up a tower of deliciousness. I had double chocolate and wild river plum. And then died of being happy. $5-ish for a towering double flavour waffle.

OMG best icecream ever @ Morrie's
OMG best icecream ever @ Morrie's
Roksalt Gourmet Fish and Chippery
Camp Street, Bright
(03) 5755 1515

Though I may be prone to hyperbole from time to time, I am with all seriousness stating, really truly, I’m not kidding, this is the best fish and chips I have ever eaten. This may even be one of the top seafood meals I have ever eaten in any kiosk, cafe or restaurant. Bright may be far far from the ocean, but this is super fresh, simple, expertly cooked seafood, homemade condiments and handcut chips. Not to mention the corn (quartered lengthways) which is juicy, sprinkled with herby salt and indescribably delicious. Tom, Kath and I grabbed a quick lunch here – cajun spiced marlin, grilled salmon and tempura battered flake, a curl of corn each, a pile of fat handcut chips to share, and a tub each of wasabi mayo, coriander and basil pesto and chunky creamy tartare: all up around $10 per person!!! Not sharing chips, probably $10-20 per person – and they have a great range of salads and other tasty things on their chalkboard menu.

Fish & Chips for three @ Roksalt
Fish & Chips for three @ Roksalt
Ingenius BBQ corn on cob @ Roksalt
Ingenius BBQ corn on cob @ Roksalt
The Berry Farm
6300 Great Alpine Rd, Eurobin
(03) 5756 2523

Have you tried their Berry Cup? it’s Highly Delicious! The Berry Farm also makes and sells sorbets, icecreams, pies, jams and wines, along with fresh and frozen berries. But seriously, can you go past a cup of vanilla icecream layered with mixed berries and handmade berry syrup, with cream on top? I didn’t think so. Maybe you’re even up to the challenge of a Mega Berry Cup? (Go Lauryne!). Anyway, very much worth dropping in for something berryfull and refreshing, under a leafy tree.

Berry Cup @ the Bright Berry Farm
Highly delicious Berry Cup @ the Bright Berry Farm
Mount Beauty Bakery Pasticceria Cafe
Kiewa Street, Mount Beauty
(03) 5754 4870

Baked goods. Coffee, Made to order sandwiches. Truely crap coffee pay and order system, where if you want both coffee and food, you have to line up twice. Without that being explained to you. And then getting yelled at for standing directly behind the person at the second counter, instead of to the side, where another line has formed since you’ve been standing there. They also have lime trees in their courtyard, with the limes going to waste! But still, they have some nice baked goods and we haven’t tried anywhere else in Mt Beauty (somehow, no photos!).

Bright Brewery
121 Great Alpine Road, Bright
(03) 5755 1301

The Bright Brewery is down by the Ovens River, and the “bottom end” of town (that’s some local lingo for you – Food Wine Friends is at the “top”). This microbrewery produces a range of ales, wheat beers, dark ale and a raspberry wheat beer! It’s a great spot to relax under the shadecloths and try a few local drops of a different kind – although they also stock a few wines if you prefer. They also serve simple single-serve pizzas ($15) and other snacks.

a cheeky afternoon Rose @ the Bright Brewery
a cheeky afternoon rose @ the Bright Brewery
Beechworth Bakery
27 Camp St, Beechworth
(03) 5728 1132

That crazy Tom O’Toole. If you’re driving ANYWHERE NEAR Beechworth (say, driving home to Sydney from Bright?), seriously: STOP and get a spinich and fetta roll. And a chocolate eclair. Maybe a Ned Kelly Pie (what is it with Ned Kelly and meat pies???), definitely a Chicken and Leek pie. And probably a copy of More Secrets of the Beechworth Bakery, so you can try your hand at making them all when you get home (thanks for the b’day present, Andy!).

Spinach and Fetta Roll @ the Beechworth Bakery
Spinach and Fetta Roll @ the Beechworth Bakery (tomato sauce optional)
Chocolate Eclair @ Beechworth Bakery
Chocolate Eclair @ Beechworth Bakery

Next post: eating in – the tasty things we made and ate – feeding 7, 9 or 11!


7 thoughts on “Bright 09: Eating Out in Victoria’s Alpine High Country

  1. OMG, when are you going again?
    I have to come, its just amazing stuff!!
    What kind of wines did you taste? It looks more like a white wine region to me!

  2. Great to see you made it to Beechworth. The Bakery is no doubt a focal point for many visitors to town but next time you are here there are also some excellent restaurants to try such as Gigi’s and Wardens. See you next time. Jamie – Beechworth

  3. Can you please clarify your comment in the Brown Brothers write up where you talk about the hit and miss and nothing was downright terrible??

  4. @ Kiki, we all want to go back again next January (well, this January actually, but noone has any leave left!)- you should totally come!! you’d love it 🙂

    Thanks for the tips Jamie – Beechworth is lovely too, we will have to make room in the schedule for a longer stop next time 🙂

    @ Cate – thanks for the comment. As I said, nothing was terrible, but because there were 7 of us, inevitably some of the dishes were better than others, and there was some serious menu envy.. ie, everyone at the table wanted my spatchcock once it arrived (and it was really amazing and I valiantly fought them off), while some at our table were a little underwhelmed with the gnocchi, and while the choc torte and caramelised peach tart were crazy-delicious (I’m still dreaming about the creamy peach tart!), the milk pudding wasn’t as dreamy…

    Hope that clears it up! I tried to qualify my hit and miss statement with the menu-envy explanation, as the food was absolutely NOT bad, but when there are real standouts coming out of the kitchen, I guess the less interesting/flavourful dishes are also highlighted… I think you guys have put together a really interesting menu with great local produce, I guess instead of saying “nothing was terrible” (which on reflection can sound like “nothing was so bad it was inedible”) I should have more clearly said “we loved some things more than others”!

    Anyway, I am most certainly recommending Brown Bros Epicurean Centre, and these were just our tastes and opinions – I’m sure other people totally love the dishes we didn’t 🙂

  5. TT, you were indeed missed! Would have been really great to have you and Lorien along (at the minimum benefit: having a bit more gender balance! c’mon L – we need some more grrl power!).

    say.. what are you guys doing for Easter?? 😉

  6. Hi,
    My name is Ebony and I work for Bright Berry Farms. We were looking at your blog and we noticed that you have a picture of our Berry Cup on there. Great to hear that you enjoyed it! We were wondering if it is possible for you to send us an electronic copy of that photo if you still have it? We will credit you as taking it but we would like to put it up in the shop.
    Thank you for your help – Ebony from Bright Berry Farms.

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