Healesville Sanctuary in winter, wood-fired pizza at Innocent Bystander (Yarra Valley)

Winter feels like it has decided to settle in Melbourne. Heading out into the Yarra Valley, it was a brisk 9 degC in the morning, and the area was clouded in mist with dark rain clouds in the distant Northern part of the valley. How cold was it? Let me put it this way..

It was so cold that the kangaroos at Healesville Sanctuary were doing it to keep warm.

Healesville Sanctuary Kangaroos Simple Palates Seriously

It was so cold that the Tasmanian Devil didn’t feel like doing much…

Healesville Sanctuary Tasmanian Devil Simple Palates Seriously

It was so cold that the wombat was busy chewing up firewood for keep his fire going.

Healesville Sanctuary Wombat Simple Palates Seriously

We needed to warm up quick, and it was lunchtime too…

So, a quick decision was made for the short drive around the corner to the Innocent Bystander winery restaurant. I have visited the Innocent Bystander / Giant Steps winery multiple times since it opened its doors years ago. I was, and still am, taken by background of their winery operations. Set against that are very comfy sofas with little stool tables, or large family-sized tables. They are certainly squeezing in more customers on to the floor these days, but it remains very much a family-friendly establishment, and a cool casual place to catch up with friends on a weekend.

The floor layout has changed since I was last there. Gone is the cheese room in the back corner of the building, replaced by a small cheese counter near the entrance. The bread racks which used to be located near the kitchen and ovens is now few and sit with the sweet pastries near the cashier. However, the tasting bar is now swish looking, and comfortably accomodates 8-10 tasters at a time. Bottles of their various lines is spread out in this area, and a King Valley Prosecco for $25 did garner my attention. You can taste through the Giant Steps range for $10.

I used to be a fan of their pink moscato which I remember having a $6 price tag when it was first released. A 375ml bottle will now set you back $12.50, or you can have a full-sized 750ml bottle for $20. I hesitate to recommend this purchase at these prices. Don’t be mistaken, it is a fun easy drink. Which is precisely why I struggle with this price. You can have a glass for $7 or a 500ml flask for $19.

Innocent Bystander Giant Steps Moscato 2014 Healesville Simple Palates Seriously

For starters, try the Honey roast pear, endive, walnut, aged feta & basil salad ($13) and the Tomato, eggplant & silver beet rice pilaf with yoghurt ($13). Their normal fries ($7) (frites as they like to be called here) are kinda meh whilst the Truffle and Parmesan frites ($11) don’t offer enough to stoke my tastebuds. I haven’t ordered these before, perhaps the Duck fat roasted potato, speck, peas & mint ($13) might be nice. But this afternoon, it was all about the pizza. And it was some yummy pizza indeed…

Innocent Bystander Caramelised onion spinach olive mozzerella fetta almond pizza Simple Palates Seriously
Caramelised onion, baby spinach, buffalo mozzarella, Kalamata olives, fetta and fried almonds $25.

Innocent Bystander Cotechino sausage smoked scarmoza cheese pickled eggplant pizza Simple Palates Seriously
Cotechino sausage, San Marzano tomato, olive, sage, smoked scamorza cheese & pickled eggplant $25.

Innocent Bystander Winery on Urbanspoon

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About simplepalatesseriously

I am a neuroscience researcher in Melbourne, Australia with a keen interest in wines of the world.
This entry was posted in Australia, Daily happenings, Melbourne restaurants, Victoria, Yarra Valley and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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