Sunday, September 12, 2010

Winterhaven Restaurant & Bar, Falls Creek Victoria

There's hardly anybody around!
What does one do after a confidence-crushing day of accidentally skiing down insane black runs (some of them diabolically masquerading as blue runs) to the point of getting cramps in your quads, stacking it John Woo-style with a vertical spin in the air while your right ski is jammed into the ground and refusing to release the boot until after your knee has popped, and doing a face plant at speed because your skis plough into a snowbank and stop dead, while inertia keeps you flying ahead?

Well, having dinner at the Winterhaven, which is a short stroll up Falls Creek Road (at the corner of Christie Street), will certainly ease both the physical and mental anguish.  At least it did for me.

This is a restaurant with a cosy alpine decor you would expect to see in the Italian alps, excellent service, and top shelf food.

My entree was a wasabi pea crusted calamari with lime mayo, delightfully presented in a paper cone. The coating of the calamari was a warm dark brown, and nice and crunchy, although I didn't really notice any wasabi flavour.  Deep fried calamari is one of the world's great comfort foods - and much lower in calorific value (and it doesn't weigh down your tummy) than other traditional comfort foods at that.
My main was pork belly cooked in master stock with sticky rice.  A brave dish, given that most restaurants feel compelled serve up pork belly with crispy skin of some sort.  The skin here was the piece de resistance. A slight resistance when you bite down gives way to a soft, chewy-gummy textural first layer, which is nicely set off by the flesh below that is firm enough to stay on the fork, but tender enough to fall apart as you chew on it.  This must be a cut of lean pork, because there wasn't much to be seen of the layer of fat between the skin and the flesh.  Normally, I'd be disappointed to miss out on the juicy, soft nougat texture of good firm fat, but in this case, the flavours and textures were so good I didn't even notice!

Look at that layer of fat: almost none!

The service was good too.  Despite the fact that there only appeared to be 2 waitstaff serving 7 groups (around 30+ covers in total), and a bit of a wait at the front desk to be shown to a table, our waiter was chatty and attentive and there was never a moment where you felt ignored or over-serviced, not even when we wanted to get the bill!

And in case you were wondering about the skiing ... it was a perfect balance between a quiet patch in the season and reasonable conditions. No queues at all!!!  There hadn't been any new snowfall for several days, and the spring sun had created crystalline snow, but there were plenty of runs sporting vigin snow, untouched by anybody else's skis. Or face, for that matter.  Boy am I glad I wore my ESS Tactical XT military ballistic goggles - the extra protection came in handy during my spectacular faceplant halfway down the South Face run (near the Ruined Castle chairlift).

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