The area around the Grand Hotel Mildura is a feast of culinary options. Wanting something a little more casual, we opted for the Mildura Brewery which is housed in what was previously the Astor Theatre.
It is hard to think how the conversion of the theatre into a brewery could have been done better. Many of the hallmarks of the theatre are not only present, but accentuated, and even the backdrop of the beer vats deserves a standing ovation for any beer drinker.
Having tried their Astor Ale and IPA this evening, I can vouch for the quality of these brews, the Astor in particular delicate but flavoursome, a beer that has some complexity without taking away from the ability to have a few. The IPA is bold as you would expect, a robust option that fits the bill of many red meat dishes.
Catherine’s Mildura Brewery cider is one of the better ciders I’ve tried, but I must admit I am not a big cider drinker. The crispness of the apples in the region are definitely reflected in the cider though.
On a Wednesday night in a country town, we thought we might get away with strolling in without a reservation. We were wrong; restaurant and bar are packed and we have to wait about thirty minutes for a table which was a good chance to enjoy the lounge area at the front. From the initial welcome of the maitre’d to leaving the restaurant, the service was excellent. Warm, knowledgeable, and attentive.
Choosing between the dishes is difficult with a combination of pub classics, homemade Italian (the influence of Stefano di Pieri always present), and French bistro, all in good measure. Catherine chose the homemade lasagne, while I decided on the scotch fillet. Perfectly cooked to my medium rare instruction, the scotch fillet is big on flavour, and comes from one of the locals, Naz Tassone. The char in particular is delicious. The mash is great, but the vegetables are tremendous.
Catherine’s lasagne is excellent too. Homemade pasta sheets separated by a generous and rich ragu, with the béchamel sauce and cheese all delivering on flavour. Even the side salad, featuring simple fresh ingredients jazzed up with a bit of radicchio, is great and you get to dress it yourself Italian style with Stefano’s olive oil and balsamic.
I am a huge fan of brewery dining. There is something special about it in Australia particularly. We love a beer and have an infatuation with the brewing process and the equipment so it makes sense we like to eat in the same place. Places like Little Creatures, and Bootleg Brewery, are close to my heart but I think I’ve just found one that offers even more on the food front.