Quack quack. The original destination Blue Duck Hotel was temporarily closed. So we came to Vines. What pretty and colourful autumn leaves!
Location: located on the main street of the town at 74 Barkly Street, Ararat
Website: see user reviews on urbanspoon
Price: roughly $10 for pies and sandwiches (above), $20 for mains (below), $5-10 for slices and cakes
3 Cheese double baked souffle - with "pear, hazelnut salad." What is the difference between single and double baked? Well I don't make souffles, but for double souffles you bake, and store, then bake again with cream and cheese before serving - it's supposed to be more convenient and also producing more consistent results. I liked the texture of the souffle, airy and lovely. The cheese sauce was runny and too creamy, not sure if that was the consistency that it was supposed to be. Enjoyed the slightly chewy, sweetish cooked pear - wish there was more of it. On a side note it reminded me a little of the dried fruit "production" we had happening at college, many years ago now. Salad was largely rocket leaves and sliced onion. I don't think I saw any hazelnut with the salad?
Chicken pistachio terrine - with "pate, cornichons, pear relish." It's funny how a wooden serving board can make a dish look rustic, and rather special. Terrines and pates, old-fashioned French dishes from a time where preserving meats had to happen without refrigeration. Quite pretty it was, but not much taste on its own. The gherkins (cornichons) were crisp and light in flavour. The pate is hiding underneath the herbs. I had a brief period where I fell in love with pate and would eat the whole lump of it from the supermarket, in one sitting. It's been awhile, and I don't know if it tastes less amazing because of the taste itself, or whether it's because I know what pate is made of now. The relish was very sweet, but had an interesting flavour, with the ginger, garlic and onions within. Importantly, there was several slices of thick, lovely crisp and fluffy bread to dip into each side; it was a fun dish, like dipping crackers into various dips and cheeses.
Vanilla milkshake - fortunately for the cafe this came after the meal had already been served. Fortunate for them, because it wouldn't have made a great first impression. Big lump of ice cream, and too sweet especially towards the end.
Honey and nut slice - I didn't know the slice, is typically an Australian dessert. Top layer was mostly hazelnut and walnuts. Thick, sticky, sweet filling - reminiscent of the caramel slices we used to try to get our hands on, every week at medical grand rounds at the hospital. The sauce had a surprisingly strong lemony sourness. Overall the nuts, sweet filling, whipped cream and lemon syrup worked well together. It was just too sweet, to have much of.
Other: high ceilings, various paintings, plants, swords hanging on walls. So you can have interesting, without the typical run-down warehouse feel of many Melbourne cafes.
Rating: I'm glad we stopped here, walking along the shops on the main street, this looked like the best place for lunch after a tour of J Wards. Menu was interesting, food was pleasant, and there was a lively buzz of customers. But it wasn't amazing. So Vines scores 3.5/5 - I would come again, but I wouldn't be craving to.