Fo0die dined as a guest of Fowles Wine and as such, the rating does not give any consideration to customer service.
We escaped Melbourne on a Sunday and drove 90 minutes North East to explore a wine region that we did not even know existed. The recently renovated Fowles Wine is located in Avenel in the Strathbogie Ranges and is located just off the Hume Freeway.
Without knowing the story behind the renovation process, it’s hard to appreciate the thought and time that has gone into creating this comfortable and aesthetic space. What we learnt was that the venue features disused farm equipment sourced by the team from across Victoria which would have otherwise ended up in landfill; old hardwood repurposed as restaurant tables, vintage sinks repurposed as vanities in the bathroom.
From the parking lot, we saw two entries into the venue. One that went along the veggie patch and the other went into the venue’s cellar door (this was the entrance we ended up going through and is the one pictured below with the blue skies).
Entering through the cellar door, we turned left into a light-filled seating area for wine tasting.
Turning right, we walked past booth style seating and an outdoor seating area. At the end of the booth seating area, we turned left into the main restaurant (the area to the right is their function room for private events). The kitchen and bar area is located in a corner, leaving the rest of the space by the windows for diners.
A fireplace is at one end of the dining space with a custom-built sofa lounge which the team have modelled on old wool bails inspired by shearers who would rest on wool bails to enjoy a drink or two after a hard days work on the farm. A very clever execution of bringing farm life into a restaurant.
The menu has a lovely message from Matt Fowles and the Fowles family at the front followed by the rest of the menu which is separated into different sections. Between the two of us, we ordered a grazing platter, two large plates, a side and a dessert to share.
The mains on the menu already had the recommended wine pairing to each dish which took out the guesswork. The price per glass was very reasonable in our opinion, under $10 and had a good depth of flavour to them (no wine connoisseur here but we enjoyed the two glasses we tried).
We started with the chef antipasti and/or charcuterie which placed into the team’s very capable hands to select 4 items from the antipasti and/or charcuterie which complemented each other.
The selection we got was the cauliflower croquette with blue cheese yoghurt which had quite a strong cheese flavour to it (as expected) but not as pungent as blue cheese on its own. We loved the thin crispy layer on the croquette.
The pork, chicken and pistachio terrine wasn’t over seasoned, allowing the natural flavours of the proteins to come through. Paired with the pickles that it was served with, this went very well together.
The orange braised fennel wasn’t too overly citrusy (we’re always a little cautious with citrus dishes). This provided a good base to get back to before grazing on the next item.
And you can’t go wrong with smoked ham which had a nice smoked flavour and saltiness to it.
The eye fillet was cooked closer to well done than the medium which we requested but the meat remained tender. The roasted potatoes had a good garlic and herb flavour to it and went well with the eye fillet.
The duck was a little on the drier side but went so well with the braised silverbeet which was salty and the carrot puree which was sweet.
Along with the two mains, we ordered a pear, parmesan and walnut salad with greens served from the venue’s own garden patch which we could actually see from the restaurant. The serving size was suitable for a table of 3-4.
Finishing off with a winter favourite, the sticky date pudding which had a lovely date flavour with a nice strong butterscotch flavour.
Dishes that make up this review
- Chef antipasti and/or charcuterie; a chef’s choice of 4 items from the antipasti and/or charcuterie selection ($30)
- Cauliflower croquette with blue cheese yoghurt
- Pork, chicken and pistachio terrine
- Orange braised fennel with walnuts
- Avenel smoked ham
- Seared eye fillet with garlic and herb potatoes and caramelised onion herb butter ($34)
- Wine pairing: Farm to Table 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ($7)
- Confit duck leg with carrot puree and braised silverbeet ($34)
- Wine pairing: Are you Game? 2017 pinot noir ($7.50)
- Pear, parmesan and walnut salad ($9)
- Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and ice cream ($12)