It’s our first night in Beechworth, and we just want something quick and easy after a lunch feast and a busy afternoon of wine tasting and taking selfies. All we want is a quick and easy meal. Bridge Road Brewers – famous for their pizzas – is closed (but we eventually get to try the pizza – stay tuned for the post!). We head to the pub where there seems a decent bistro, but they’re packed. We’re told to get a beer while they try to find a table to clear, but it’s slow and no one comes to find us. We’re pretty sold on the takeaway pizza shop across the road, but I’ve seen good reviews of the nearby Green Shed and we figure we might as well see what it’s about. And we’re very glad we do!
The Green Shed’s actually an old printery from the late 1890s and still has the original colour scheme and other ancient markings on the wall. As we enter, there’s almost what I’d call a receiving room – and we’re received warmly, and taken to a table in the next, larger room.
Our host explains the menu: two dishes per person are $45. Each additional course is $17, and there are sides and starters for an extra fee, too. The Green Shed has an Asian/Mediterranean influence, and the dishes are designed for sharing – if you want to, that is.
We start with our wine orders and – amongst a considered and balanced wine list featuring locals, Australian wines and foreign wines – I’m very pleased to see my favourite riesling (at the moment!) Monsters, Monsters Attack! (Yes, that’s the name. Check it out!) I’ll confess I can’t remember the cost of the glass (bad, bad blogger) but I can’t remember being outraged so it can’t have been too bad – maybe $11 or $12? Whatever the cost, the serving size in Beechworth turns out to be very generous.
Boyfriend and I peruse the menu and talk through what dishes grab our attention – we’ve just got the one dish in common, so it seems there won’t be much sharing going on! When our host takes our orders, he easily answers questions we have on the dishes.
The venue is an intimate one. There are a lot of tables for a small restaurant, but just a few are full on this Thursday evening before Good Friday. The tables are a little close together, and I think it could be mildly claustrophobic if there were more people.
What helps the venue’s intimacy is that there’s just the one host serving all the tables – seating guests, taking orders, serving dishes, asking about the dishes, taking payments – and he does a great job. It wouldn’t be manageable with more people, but he does a lovely job of bringing – okay, I’m cringing with this term – a calm energy to the floor, and each customer can see they’re getting consistent attention. I like that the person who pours the generous servings of wine is also the one who explains the dishes, serves the dishes and takes the payment. I realise I’ve just written a paragraph about this (!), but there’s really something to be said for having the same waiter throughout the night – I can’t think of too many restaurants or cafes which do this (save for The Boathouse). Simply: it’s a nice touch. Don’t change, Green Shed!
Okay, food.My chicken and shitake wontons arrive with a teapot of ginger and yellow bean broth which the host pours over the wontons carefully. These wontons are divine. The pastry’s firm, consistent and absorbs the flavour of the broth and the filling. I could drink the broth every day.
Boyfriend’s ordered the beetroot tart with goat’s curd. These flavours are always going to be a winner, but the textures are spot on, too.
It’s a short wait for our next course. Mine’s the crisp cinammon lamb pizza with jalapenos, hummus, fetta and spinach.
I kiiind of wish I’d gone for the other dish I’d been toying with (dukkah crusted lamb rump) but there’s plenty to like about this dish. It looks small, but there’s a great deal of hummus as the ‘sauce’ base and the big chunks of fetta complement what turns out to be quite a lot of lamb. I’m conflicted early: the flavours work well, but there’s a very spicy hummus and some genuinely spicy jalapenos which cheekily play off each other… my riesling turns out to be a pretty stupid pairing (but it’s my favourite!). Even though my mouth is on fire, I can’t stop eating – a credit to the flavour combination! Boyfriend’s got the chicken and prawn san choi bao which also turns out to be a big serving with the flavours bursting out of the crisp lettuce leaf. Boyfriend tells me this is as good as anything you’d get in Asia.
Make no mistake: the two dishes premise isn’t about paying high prices for small plates – they’re big, tasty, and filling. I like the two dishes idea (though I still had menu envy!), and the dishes are certainly the size for sharing – though some might be a bit difficult to share in practice.It’s an early call, but this is probably our favourite dining experience while we’re in the region (and that’s saying a lot after being to the hatted restaurant The Terrace for lunch earlier in the day, and off to two-hatted Provenance the next) – it’s the one experience and concept we keep talking about for the rest of the trip. My only regret is not fitting in two visits (… and I might get a different wine if I order the lamb pizza again!).
Date: Thursday, 17 April 2014
Where: 37 Camp Street, Beechworth, Victoria
Cost: $115 for two, including four courses ($45 per person for two courses) and wine
Value for money: High
Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile
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