We all have moments of sheer genius. Probably my last of 2012 was deciding that lunch at a vineyard would be ideal on our trek to spend New Year’s Eve in the Blue Mountains. Even better, I thought to flick through the Canberra Entertainment Book and saw that there was a deal on wine for Lerida Estate (one of the Lake George wineries). With just over an hour until we would arrive there, I also had the thought to book ahead for Cafe Lerida (which they seem to recommend). Like I said, sheer genius.
Despite numerous trips to Sydney over the years, I’d never really paid attention to the buildings to the left of the highway, just before Collector – I imagine I have always, as per Canberra tradition, been focussed on commenting on how much water there is in Lake George compared to the last time I saw it. However, the signs are pretty obvious, and it’s a simply turn off into the area, with Lerida the first one you come across.
After the entry sign, there’s a small walk down a path before you reach Cafe Lerida, which also houses the cellar door, nestled into the hill.
We were warmly greeted by the staff, who offered us a choice of two of the reserved outside tables (we chose the shady one on such a sunny day!), and we were impressed with the lovely view.
I think what’s supposed to happen is you have a bit of a taste of the wines first, which will help you select your food choice and matching wine, but we tried to be clever and so ordered straight up (including the wine) and then went in to taste while we waited for our courses (yes, courses) to be served. The menu has suggestions of matching wines, but a separate wine list is also provided.
Of course, we were a little too clever (my genius moments had well run out by this stage), because they were a little too quick with the service. While we sampled wines, they kindly left our ordered glasses of wine inside with us (so a rogue fly didn’t drop in for a dip if it was left unattended outside), but they – and we! – had to draw the line and head back outside when our cheese tasting plate was served.
The plate came with Jindi cheeses (the gorgonzola is best), dried fruits, a red wine jelly (delish) and, of course, crackers. It was lovely to sample, and on a hot day the wine went down easily, too.
The cafe’s design masks just how busy it is – we never felt like it was crowded or noisy, but I was often surprised to realise just how many people there were, and how busy it was. Our second course took a little longer, and during the wait our waitress asked if we’d like coffee with our dessert, but when the record was corrected it arrived quickly. In the meantime, we’d been kept very entertained by the vineyard’s two dogs: Max, a Jack Russell/Italian Greyhound cross, and Melanie, a Jack Russell.
We’d each gone with a pot pie – one chicken, leek and tarragon, and the other braised beef with mushrooms (both $26 each – I have never understood why pot pies are so expensive, but they are!).
The pastry on both was delicious – buttery and flaky – and the flavours came through strongly. Perhaps my tastes have been a little spoilt with Flute Bakery and their wonderful pies, but I’m not sure I’d get the beef pot pie again. The chicken one definitely won me over, and I had order envy. The creamy mash was fantastic – most importantly, no lumps!
I ordered the $16.50 a glass award winning Josephine Pinot Noir to go with dessert, and it’s every bit as gorgeous as the awards and price tag ($78 a bottle) suggest. I do regret that I didn’t pay it more attention, but the dessert distracted me. See for yourself.
Okay, I can’t help it. Here’s another angle.
There’s not a lot better than seeing double cream ooze into butterscotch sauce on sticky date pudding. It was every bit as good as the pictures.
It had been a tonne of food, but of course we’d left some room to finish off what we’d started with the wine tasting. Together with the Shiraz and the Pinot Grigio, the Zenzi (a moscato-style wine) was a winner (okay, okay, we got two of the slightly fizzy Zenzi. It’s light in alcohol!). Our Entertainment Book discount saved us $19 with the four wines.
Date: 12.45pm, Saturday, 29 December
Attendees: T1 and Boyfriend
Cost: $120.50 = $8 (glass of Merlot) + $11.50 (glass of Shiraz Voignier) + $16.50 (glass of Josephine Pinot Noir) + cheese plate ($16) + two pot pies ($26 each) + sticky date pudding ($12.50) + flat white ($4)
Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile