Two more good excuses to come to Avenel

13 September 2012

How exciting to open the Age Epicure last week (when the latest Age Good Food Guide was launched) and spy an article on 52 places to visit around Victoria throughout the year – and discover that two places in tiny little Avenel were mentioned!

The Bank Street Wood Fired Oven and Garden was listed as no: 26 Best outdoor tables on a sunny day in the country. And certainly last weekend with its warm spring sunshine, a lot of readers had heeded the paper’s advice! The place was jumping with tasty pizzas being served at tables out under the old elm tree and at tables scattered around the manicured veggie garden and fish pond. Many glasses of local wine were served to the happy guests. I was called to “Drop in more Vermentino, we’re out of stock!”

The other was the Café at Fowles Winery. That was listed at no: 32 as a great excuse to stop off on the Hume Highway. Adele, the chef, is doing some fabulous food there, and uses loads of local produce – my Verjus, Scott the local butcher’s sweet smoky ham and house made sausages, local olives and olive oil … And Ian and the Cellar Door staff have a great list of their wines to taste in a flight or by the glass, or of course by the bottle.

I think we were the only small town in regional Victoria to get two mentions in the article! With a population of 1200 people, we are punching well above our weight!

And just think what else there will be in the area to visit when Gerry Ryan and his team really settle in over the River at Mitchelton.

Gerry owns Jayco Caravans and is a prominent race horse breeder in the area. When he turns his hand to something he does it really well. One of his horses, Americain won the Melbourne Cup a couple of years ago and he sponsors the Australian cyclists racing as Green Edge in Europe. They had their first outing in the Tour de France this year.

His team have begun renovations to the Robin Boyd designed tower, the restaurant and the Cellar Door. They expect to be open for business by the end of the year. Eco units are being built in amongst the vines so guests can linger longer and a convention centre is on the drawing board.

Gerry also has an interest in the dynamic Melbourne Pub Group, who own Circa, the Newmarket, Albert Park and Middle Park Hotels. They will no doubt help him recruit an exciting chef for the Restaurant at Mitchelton. I’ll keep you posted.