Whirrakee strikes gold, showcasing the best of regional fine dining.
Country dining is often uninspiring, conjuring up images of dusty taverns or rowdy pubs, where day-tripping city-slickers are stared at upon entrance. However, in a few pockets of Victoria, pass long highway drives, bumpy gravel roads, verdant vineyards, golden wheat fields, sleepy townships, a few well-kept secrets may be found. Whirrakee is one such secret. Conveniently positioned and with lovely views (if you are fortunate to be seated near the long windows, as MoMo & Coco were), over the intersection of Pall Mall, Rosalind Park and the beautiful grecian Alexandra Fountain, the inconspicuous frontage of Whirrakee opens out into a rather grand venue with towering ceilings, gothic chandeliers, and ornate rosettes and cornices. Tables are draped in heavy linens, laid out in a contemporary style in clean lines of white, butter cream and dark woods.
MoMo & Coco visited during a bustling Easter weekend, for a unique festival that celebrated Bendigo’s European and Chinese ancestry. From the Modern European/Australian prix fixe lunch menu ($30pp), our party selected for mains, a pan-seared baby snapper delicately finished with fennel purree, sauce vierge and herbs; a moist chicken ballotine stuffed with istra bacon, pistachio nut and rosemary and served with sides of whipped potato and frisee salad; and also, slow braised beef cheeks perched on a wintery lentil stew. MoMo & Coco then cast our big beady eyes on the four-item menu of irresistibles and selected two irresistibles for the two of our party who did not have entrees.
Bypassing the oft-seen panna cotta and the light parfait option on the prix fixe menu, we selected two irresistibles that also feature on the a la carte menu. The first irresistible sampled was the “Gingerbread Cake,” served in two small but thick wedges, with a rectangular slice of roasted golden pineapple on the top, and a round dollop of tangy cheesecake mousse placed at the centre of the plate to cut through the pool of star anise syrup.
The second irresistible was the “Expression of Valrhona Chocolate 2 ways” – big smiles for a dessert of two irresistibles for the price of one – YAY!. The first on this plate was a darkly-toned chocolate creme brulee. Small raspberries lay at the bottom, and the more mousse-like texture of the creme brulee was mixed in with what seemed to be strong taste of grand marnier and/or rum. The second irresistible on this plate was a luxurious chocolate interpretation of a mille feuille, minus the pastry layers. Decorated with crystalised orange candy, it consisted of a top layer of Valrhona chocolate ganache, a second layer of hazlenut mousse, followed by another layer of rich Valrhona chocolate, and a final base layer of breathtaking chocolate cake…hmmmm…irresistible…
Whirrakee strikes gold, showcasing the best of regional fine dining, and of an emerging trend in contemporary country cuisine — simple, elegant food, highlighted by fresh produce, complemented by professional service, in a setting without the hustle and bustle of CBD dining, but with a rich history and a culinary story to tell.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Whirrakee Restaurant, 17 View Point, Bendigo, Vic 3350.
- ☑ Budget: $$$.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Restaurant dessert. Neo-classical European.
- ☑ Must-eat: The “Expression of Valhrona Chocolate 2 Ways.”
- ☑ The short and sweet story: Whirrakee strikes gold, showcasing the best of regional fine dining.