Teacher educator and author of many teacher reference books. Amused by random ideas and loves random acts of kindness. Enjoys writing humour...seriously!Please see my Instagram: wilsonjeni
Published August 26th 2015
Superb Wine, Cheese, Bakery and Lots More
Mouth watering food
The building is imposing and impressive. It is perched right near the Beechworth bakery on the main road through Healesville. You'll Immediately feel the exciting atmosphere as soon as you enter the Innocent Bystander. This is an ideal meeting place for many to sample a drop of two and experience the finest of foods.
Queues at the free wine tasting
Given the high quality of the food I was surprised to be told that most people visit them for the wine. This reaction is from a non-wine drinker's point of view! The Innocent Bystander is one of three wines that is made on site. The Moscato from $20 is very popular as is the Giant Steps range. They also have two vineyards.
As well as having free wine tasting, private wine tasting ($10 per head), the Innocent Bystander also have a extensive range of exotic cheeses. Four of them are over $100 per kilo. They source cheeses from importers and local artisan makers and each day select three or four cheeses at peak maturity for our cheese selection platter to suit the wine.
But wait there's more… they have an artisan bakery with tempting tarts and many other exquisite sweets. All cakes, pastries and breads are made by hand daily in our bakery. The croissants, Danish pastries and Portuguese tarts using French butter.
Portugese tarts only $4 each
The service is quite remarkable. We were greeted and welcomed by Damien the manager who explained what the establishment has to offer and he invited us to enjoy the food and wine. The introduction was so lengthy and friendly I thought they must have known I was writing a review. The waitress was also well-versed in the history and possibilities of the Innocent Bystander. I would have thought she must be in management to but she had only been working there for about six months.
Who would have thought sour dough crust could taste so good?
We ordered pizza while we were deciding what else to order and later found out the unique taste is due to a sour dough base that takes three days to make. This delicious pizza was covered in fresh crushed tomatoes and lots of fresh herbs. The pizza was served on the board and looked like a piece of art. It included lots of roasted garlic, roasted eggplant, mushrooms, cheese, olive oil with large basil leaves on top. I can't resist anything with basil.
Even if you don't like sour dough I'm sure you would love this pizza. The taste of wood fired pizza was distinctive. I'd love to know the secret of the thin crispy base but fluffy crusts. The most popular pizzas include margarita, mushroom and salami pizzas, however the waitress said that there's not one pizza on the menu that's not popular.
The Innocent Bystander serve interesting tasting platters and tapas. We also sampled the trout with watercress, tomato, olives and shredded mushrooms. This was not a large serve but the fish was fresh and complemented well with watercress. They do sell side serves so if this had been a main meal I would have added some fresh vegetables or chunky chips.
coffee for those who like it strong
I should mention they are pretty enamoured with coffee. They roast twice a week and you can see the roaster in action.All beans are organic, are certified fair trade.The Innocent Bystander's Blend is 33% Peru 'Rainforest Alliance', 33% Brazil Red Acaia, 33% El Salvador 'el volcan' In the cup you will find lots of hazelnuts, almonds, and dark coca with soft orange pith acidity and a rich body
Don't be scared - they can make it to taste
And now drumroll please… the very long list of sweet treats makes this a very hard choice. They had an extensive range of tarts and irresistible pastries. I can personally recommend the Portugese tarts (only $4), The moist orange flourless poppyseed cake served with King Island cream is only $7.
Orange flourless cake... yummo
My personal favorite of the day was the French canelé ($4). For the uninitiated this is a small French pastry with a soft custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. The dessert, is a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France. If heated it goes a bit gooey on the inside. I wish I'd bought some to take away. I am not really a big sweet tooth but I would go back just for these.
A French delight
It's not hard to imagine that you could spend all day at the Innocent Bystander..,.and not just because you are too tipsy to drive home.
This is a very popular spot on the weekends particularly in summer. It is advisable to book if you wish to drop in on a Saturday or Sunday.
Sounds like it's definitely worth a visit. I'm not a wine drinker but my husband is. He can savour his drink while I tuck into those scrumptious sweets. You're right Jeni, it would be easy to spend a day here.