For the curious diner, the Green Shed in Beechworth is an enticing proposition, with a menu offering a fusion of middle eastern and Asian flavours. On my recent trip to Beechworth for the Easter long weekend it was somewhere I booked for so I did not miss out.
Having eaten to excess since Friday night, by Sunday night we were beginning to order more cautiously. We were interested in the ‘feed me’ five course tasting menu, but we asked which dishes from the menu were included and it seemed to focus on the ones we found less desirable. We decided instead to order four entrees to share, which should leave sufficient stomach space for dessert.
Our choices were all mostly Asian in origin. From the top down: smoked eel with wakame sesame salad, dikon, aloe vera jelly and ponzu sauce; steamed pork belly, mushrooms and spring onion rice paper rolls with tamarind, peanut and chilli dressing; crispy prawn and coconut Vietnamese crepe with fresh herbs, bean shoots and coconut lime dressing; and black sesame chicken terrine with sweet and sour cucumbers and shitake foam.
In terms of atmosphere, the Green Shed has more to offer than most competitors in town. Gigi’s is smallish and cosy, Tanswell’s is a typical old pub and Provenance is elegant but not comparable in decor to restaurants of similar food quality in Melbourne. The rough unfinished walls, partially in fading green paint, and the high ceiling offer rustic charm.
The eel was excellent, and the pork rice paper rolls were too. The flavours of the Vietnamese crepe were wonderful, but under all that topping was only one small crepe. It was deconstructed, and not designed to pick up and wrap up the food. It would have been easier to share, like the rice paper rolls, if there were two crepes under there. The terrine was very good but, with so many other tastes to appreciate, it was difficult to discern the flavour of the shitake foam.
The wine list on their website does not list what is available by the glass, but I recall a sparkling, four whites and three reds, two of which were heavier varieties like cabernet or shiraz best suited to red meat dishes.
The girlfriend liked the John Gehrig riesling from nearby Oxley. I recall having a pinot noir, possibly the one from The Ninth Mile in Beechworth, which I also bought a bottle of from the Cellar Door Wine Store the next day before leaving town.
With many of the small wineries in the area not having regular cellar door hours, the store provides a great service in stocking many local wines from wineries that don’t have cellar doors. I also bought a bottle of Smith’s shiraz. Smith’s have closed their winery, so if it’s really good I’ll be doubly disappointed.
Now for some more decolletage and dessert, the delicious combination I introduced at the behest of the girlfriend in my review of the Stanley pub.
From the top down: bitter chocolate bavarois with hazel nut creme patissiere millie feuille and blue berry jelly cubes; and spiced poached apple with walnut crumble, white chocolate mousse and earl grey and date ice cream.
To accompany our desserts we both enjoyed glasses of the muscat from Baileys of Glenrowan.
On previous visits I’ve eaten at Warden’s (now closed) and Gigi’s, and on this trip Provenance was my first meal. The lighting is low there, it has been reviewed extensively and I wanted to focus on sharing the meal with my partner, so I took no photos and won’t be writing a review. The food was exceptional and, apart from forgetting our dessert wines, the service was very good.
I was also keen to explore further nearby. On my last visit to the region I was impressed by The Plough Inn at Tarrawingee and on this occasion I was even more impressed by the Stanley pub. The food at Tanswell’s Commercial hotel, perhaps similar in quality to The Plough Inn, was also enjoyable.
In terms of impressions and expectations, our meal at the Green Shed was the least impressive of the weekend. The food is good, and the prices reasonable, but in summation the experience did not feel balanced. Partially this is because what we ordered did not represent the breadth of the menu, so it’s difficult to assess the food overall.
The service was mostly good. By the end we were one of the last tables to leave, but it took some effort to ask the staff for the bill, pay and leave. Normally you’d think the staff would love to get you out the door so they can close.
The Green Shed has been positively reviewed by The brewer’s wife (2010) and Not quite Nigella (2011). I’m surprised it has not received more attention. It’s clearly the most eclectic offering in Beechworth and, notwithstanding my minor criticisms, I’d like to return. If I did I’d order very differently.
There’s also the fantastic looking Ox and Hound to try, whose menu had us salivating, but we didn’t have time for another meal. There’s plenty more dining pleasure to be had in Beechworth.