In a region as densely populated with unique and high-profile wineries as the Yarra Valley, it is easy to bypass a hidden gem. But sometimes a little research goes a long way. Having been to the more commercial wineries such as Rochford and Yering Station, we were seeking something more down to earth. This was exactly what brought us to Shantell Vineyard and Winery in Dixons Creek. The signage was so obscure we nearly missed it twice.
On entry into the property we sighted a small modest building and for a moment thought we had just intruded into someone's home! It is not until we entered the restaurant that the breathtaking views of the vineyard below finally hit us confirming that we had indeed come to the right place. The restaurant's décor was simple but modern and elegant creating a tranquil and airy atmosphere. The premises is run by a lovely couple who provided impeccable and personable service.
The menu was very diverse providing many options from every meat group. We opted for the Shantell grazing plate ($38) and the Seafood Plate ($35) to share. Both were not your average run of your mill grazing plates with a few slabs of cheese and cold-cuts thrown together. Especially note-worthy were the perfectly seared scallops and oysters with sparkling and watermelon shooter sauce. The stand-out dish was definitely the crispy skinned barramundi with well-cooked fondant potatoes, fennel, rocket & orange salad and champagne sauce ($34). The fish was perfectly cooked and showed genuine respect for good produce. The salad also provided some zing to go with the delicate barramundi.
Complimentary wine-tasting was also available at the bar. The most note-worthy is definitely the Shiraz ($30)- very smooth and one of the best I have had in a long time.
If you are looking for a genuinely well cooked meal using fresh produce in an ambient and intimate environment with excellent service, away from the hustle and sometimes chaos of the larger wineries, I would definitely recommend a trip to Shantell. Just remember to bring a GPS!