Teage Ezard learned the fundamentals of matching food and wine during his apprenticeship at Hermann Schneider's fêted Two Faces. At his latest venture, which opens at Coldstream in the Yarra Valley on July 24, the plan is to take the marriage to a new level. "This is a new approach to the winery restaurant, where the food is built around the wine," says the Melbourne chef. "This time the wine will be the headliner."
Along with his Flinders Lane flagship, Ezard also operates the street hawker-style Gingerboy and Sydney's Black by Ezard. He says that Ezard @ Levantine Hill will trade in food that will be familiar to his fans - "we'll be doing our Ezard-esque modern contemporary style" - albeit largely stripped of the overt Asian influences. "We're definitely going for more of a European slant but with high-end Australian product." Long-standing Ezard head chef Sharn Greiner will lead the kitchen.
"We've had a number of dinners with [estate winemaker] Paul Bridgeman where we present what we think is the best course to match the wines," Ezard says. "There's a butter-poached marron with edamame purée and shellfish emulsion, for example, that goes beautifully with the estate's current-release 2014 chardonnay."
Designed by architects Fender Katsalidis, the cellar door and restaurant is the latest stage for the young Levantine Hill winery, outside Healesville. Owners Elias Jreissati, chairman of the Bensons Property Group, and his wife Colleen, have described their ambitions for a state-of-the-art venue serving as a Yarra Valley tourism drawcard, with a boutique luxury hotel to eventually be added to the sprawling property on the Maroondah Highway.
The curving glass, steel and timber structure will house both a formal restaurant, featuring a five- or eight-course tasting menu, and an informal dining area. Ezard says an amphitheatre and deck will be used in warm weather for picnics, concerts and other entertainment.
Ezard @ Levantine Hill, 882-886 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream, Vic, (03) 8602 0874