In a promise to report honestly on my restaurant experiences, it is here that I will share with you my first negative experience since starting my blog…
When we asked my mum what she wanted to do for her birthday she had two requests. To be taken out for dinner and for it to be near her house in St Andrews.
With these stipulations my sister and I looked into some of the wineries in the Yarra Valley and came across Innocent Bystander which had great reviews from numerous sources and is in both The Good Food Guide and Cheap Eats Guide…how could we go wrong. On top of this they have their own bakery, winery and cheese room.
As we arrived we were overwhelmed by the beautiful steel brewery vibe of the venue. We could see produce for sale at various stations and cheese and breads on display. With a gluten free menu provided to me we were very happy. This however didn’t last very long.
Upon closer inspection of the gluten free menu there were a few items, which raised concerns including the arancini, the fries and the fried cauliflower. When pushed the waitress reluctantly asked the kitchen returning to inform me that yes these foods were deep fried with wheat and gluten products rendering them no longer gluten free. In an attempt to not let the service or the mistakes disappoint I chose other items.
The menu features tapas style entrees including nuts and olives, breads, arancini, sashimi and hams. The main section is divided into two, their gourmet pizzas, which they are known for, and then other mains including dhal, steaks, a snapper dish and a seafood salad.
The gourmet pizzas were received very well by those at the table, as were the gourmet sides that included asparagus with buttered almonds.
My entrée of king fish sashimi with white miso dressing was lovely, the strong taste of the miso balanced the intense experience of the raw fish and my main of pumpkin and red lentil dhal (without the cauliflower) was again quite good. It came with a layer of toasted slivered almond on top which gave crunch to the somewhat soft textured dish.
All of the meals were beautiful, yet that is not what I remember when I think of the night…I remember the service.
More than one wine we ordered from their list was not available, and we were constantly given attitude and snappy remarks when asking for help. After questioning the missing wines we were told we were lucky to have received what we did.
Finally in an attempt to give mum a good birthday, my sister secretly gave the waitress a candle to put in her dessert. When the desserts arrived with no candle, we asked quietly what had happened and again got treated with contempt.
All in all, the wait staff were a little too pretentious for their own good and acted as though the venue and the food spoke for itself. I speak for myself here when I say service is almost more important than the food in a venue like this and I would rather miss out on good even great food for friendly and helpful service.
In all honesty, I wont be making the trip to Innocent Bystander again.
For more information:
336 Maroondah Highway Healesville VIC 3777 – (03) 5962 6111
Open Weekdays 10am-10pm; Weekends 8am-10pm