If 2020 was a difficult year for the hospitality industry, the team at Balgownie Estate Yarra Valley has had it tougher than most after a fire burnt the restaurant to the ground between lockdowns last June.
But 18 months on, the restaurant is back, bigger, better and with a new moniker, 1309 @ Balgownie, the name reflecting the estate's Melba Highway address.
Designed by ZWEI Interiors & Architecture, the multi-million dollar rebuild includes a light-filled 100-seat dining room with huge windows overlooking the estate's pinot noir vines, a cellar door, function area, a cocktail bar and an outdoor deck bar.
The kitchen team has just moved from the improvised marquee kitchen set up after the fire to their gleaming new kitchen with capacity to cook for restaurant guests as well as wedding parties of up to 120 people.
"It hasn't been easy but we've been really lucky to keep the team together," says food and beverage director Grant Flack. "Now we're looking forward to showing off our wines and the local produce. People come to Balgownie for the wines and the views, but we want them to come back for the food and service."
Highlights of head chef Beth Candy's menu include a Buxton trout tartare with Yarra Valley salmon roe and finger lime, and another of locally grown heirloom tomatoes with whipped Yarra Valley Dairy goat's cheese.
Throughout December, they're cooking for in-house guests staying in the property's boutique accommodation as well as long-booked weddings and functions only. But from January 1, they'll open daily to the public for lunch and dinner.
1309 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen, 03 9730 0774, balgownie.com