In fashion, I am terribly late with trends. In food and beverage, I am generally not behind, though every now and again there is a trend that I either don’t gravitate towards, or that I don’t personally enjoy. Many years ago I didn’t like a couple of particular foods, most notably olives and anything in vinegar. Luckily I overcame that frustration eventually with maturity.
However, I have always had a palate for alcohol, especially wine. The only drink I haven’t got a liking for is cider. I would never defend this as there is no good reason with so many great ciders available, and it has become especially unfortunate given the huge growth in the popularity of cider. My only hesitance in going to a cider house for lunch is pretty obvious – would there be anything else to drink?
Well, there was plenty of wine and beer at Flying Brick Cider House so my fears were eased and my thirst quenched. Those more partial to a cider said that the selection (you can try the four on offer for $12) were all great.
Flying Brick Cider Company have been producing cider for some time, but the Cider House only opened up in December and is brand new. In a prominent spot on the Bellarine Highway next to Adventure Park, it is already popular with the summer crowds, and probably an oasis of sorts for parents in need of a break from the adventures of their kids across the road. The building is not architecturally unlike many other breweries, wineries and cider houses I’ve previously seen, but is, all the same, a very nice place to eat and drink, with a sprawling outdoor seating area and lawn.
We’ve made a booking and are seated inside, but such is the openness of the venue that we feel outdoors. Consistently throughout the meal it feels like service is a bit disparate but reasonable. In the first few weeks of opening that counts as a pass mark. If the cider house keeps a large proportion of its floorstaff, and trains them up more on the food, and cider, I think service will be better than reasonable.
For lunch I choose the Portarlington mussels cooked in Flying Brick Cider and mustard, with chorizo. The combination of the chorizo with the mussels is addictive, especially for someone who loves saltiness. The mussels are a good medium size with abundant flavour, and the dish is very reasonably priced. Catherine goes for the pork belly, with pear and fennel coleslaw. The classical combination of flavours is well put together and the belly is well cooked. I also had a try of the fried cauliflower which is a nice share dish with good spice.
While the apple ciders are quality, the handling of the apples by the chefs in the tarte tatin for dessert left much to be desired. Catherine and I were sharing and given tarte tatin is a favourite, we were a bit deflated. The apples were cut in segments, that were too thick, and were barely cooked, let alone caramelised. I expect this is easily rectified as conversely, the pastry was nicely cooked. On the other hand, Kasey and Karl’s choice of the black forest opera cake, with chocolate sauce and cocoa nibs, was delicious. There was overwhelming menu envy after one bite.
I cannot emphasise how pleasant lunch at Flying Brick was on this gorgeous day. With large summer crowds lapping it up, it could be easy to become complacent. With a few improvements to the menu and growing experience on the floor, it won’t just be a great place for the summer months, but the cooler months too.