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Bendigo – Wine Bank on View

Wine Bank on View is a cafe I’d wanted to visit for a long time.  I’d read about it on different websites and it had some excellent reviews as well as a huge variety of wine.  It’s like having a cellar door in the middle of a town, offering wines from a lot of local wineries.

The cafe is only small with walls lined with dozens of bottles of wine.  It has a very cosy atmosphere due to this although as we were the only ones eating breakfast there that day, it was very quiet.  We had to have breakfast because we didn’t need to have lunch the day before and it was one of the places we really wanted to eat in.  It has also been been reviewed in the 2013 Age Good Food Guide.

Their breakfast menu is of a type I hadn’t seen before but I’m sure many restaurants and cafes offer this choice.  You can choose two eggs (cooked the way you want them) with toasted ciabatta and then choose from a range of sides such as tomato, mushrooms, bacon etc.  I chose two poached eggs with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce.  It was delicious.  Mel had an omelette with tomato, bacon, onion and basil and it was the largest omelette I’ve ever seen.  We both loved our meals though.  Again there was no thought to what we would have for lunch as there was no way we would need to eat again till dinner.

The building that houses the cafe is an old ANZ bank building, built in 1876.  It’s a lovely old building, typical of 19th century bank buildings.

Bendigo – GPO Cafe (one of my favourite ever meals)

This meal turned out to be the highlight of my weekend in Bendigo.

Pan-fried snapper fillet served with a prawn croquette, served on a rouille  with parsely coulis

We had picked this cafe from The Age Good Food Guide because it was ranked as one of the best ones in Bendigo.  We realised the night before that it was next to the Shamrock Hotel.

I decided to google their menu on the way to the cafe and was worried I wouldn’t be able to find something I wanted to eat.  I’m hopeless when it comes to choosing what to eat from a menu.  There are normally so many things I want to try.

They have a range of share plates but I wanted something more than that.  The easiest decision of the night was choosing the wine.  They offer one of my favourite Domaine Chandon wines so I chose that.  I then sat and read and reread the menu soooo many times.  I just couldn’t decide.  Eventually I spotted the pan-fried snapper and decided to have that.  We were sitting near the dessert counter which had a lot of small cakes and puddings as well as what was on the menu.

I loved the simple presentation of the dinner.  The snapper was beautifully cooked and on a bed of rouille.  I had no idea what that was so googled it while waiting for it to be served. In case you are wondering it is a sauce that consists of olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chili peppers.  It was delicious.  I even loved the parsley coulis.  But the thing I loved the most was the prawn croquette which was amazing.

After I finished I ordered another glass of my sparkling wine while pondering what to have for dessert.  As you may have read before I’m a sucker for a lemon tart or pie.  Lemon tart was one of my choices again.  This time however I decided to try the GPO Affogato.  This is two scoops of ice cream with shot glasses of frangelico and espresso and a honey drizzle.  I poured some of the espresso and frangelico over the ice cream and waited for the ice cream to melt and mix with the yummy flavours of the liquids.  OMG it was to die for.  Then just when I thought I’d finished I hit the honey that had been drizzled into the bottom of the glass.

GPO Affogato

http://www.gpobendigo.com.au/userDocs/documents/GPO%20Dinner%20Menu.pdf

Bendigo – Golden Dragon Museum & Garden of Joy

Thousands of Chinese arrived during Victoria’s gold rush in the 1850’s.  Within 10 years they made up 10% of the Bendigo population.  Many returned home after the rush ended but some stayed and have created a vibrant Chinese community.  Every year they play a major part in the Bendigo Easter Festival where Sun Loong, the world’s largest imperial dragon weaves his way through the streets of Bendigo.

There is a precinct of Bendigo that is famous as the Chinese cultural centre of Australia.  This is where the Chinese lived during the gold rush and the area is celebrated with the Golden Dragon Museum and the Chinese Gardens.  There is also a Joss House nearby.

The museum is designed to represent Chinese history in Australia from the 1850’s to today.  Mel and I spent quite a while walking around reading all the information and looking at the displays.  Sun Loong (Chinese dragon) is also kept in an upstairs, roped of area but is still visible from the main part of the museum.  In fact it wraps around the whole balcony.  I believe it’s the longest such dragon in the world.  It is such an interesting place to visit.

A few metres away from the museum is the Yi Yuan (Garden of Joy).  The architecture is based on the Imperial Palace in Beijing and is authentic in every way.  There is also a Buddhist Temple and the Guan Yin Miao (temple of The Goddess of Mercy).  I first visited the gardens not long after they were opened and was really disappointed this time to see there hadn’t been much growth in the plants and trees.  In fact it feels like a lot had been removed; possibly they died and weren’t replaced.  It’s such a shame.  I love the Chinese Gardens in Sydney because they are so lush and provide an oasis just outside the CBD.

Bendigo – Quills Restaurant

Quills is situated in a lovely setting opposite Lake Weeroona and just a few hundred metres away from the house we were staying in.  We booked it the night before after walking past and agreeing they had a good menu.  It’s also the onsite restaurant for the Lakeview Resort.

We both ordered the Breakfast Bruschetta which was poached eggs on thick buttered Vienna toast with grilled prosciutto, fresh tomato and basil with shaved parmesan.  It was a relly nice, big breakfast and ensured we didn’t need to eat any lunch.

I ordered tea and it was very nicely presented on this tray.

http://www.lakeviewresort.com.au/quills.html

 

Bendigo – home of Myer department stores

In 1900 Sidney Myer opened the first Myer store in Bendigo and since then it has opened stores in every state in Australia.  He came from Russia with little money and little knowledge of the English language.  He and his brother opened their first store in Bendigo in 1900.  They then set about buying other businesses and renaming them with the Myer brand and building them up.  Myer is now the biggest chain of stores in the country.

Years ago I read Sidney Myer’s biography and it told a fascinating story of the transformation of retail in Australia and how he used his money for philanthropy.  To this day the Myer family are known for their philanthropy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myer

Bendigo – Sacred Heart Cathedral

Church architecture is some of the most magnificent architecture.  I love it.  Particularly from the 18th and 19th centuries.  They are so grand and often dominate the towns.  Cathedrals are such impressive buildings especially Gothic cathedrals.

The Sacred Heart Cathedral definitely dominates the horizon when driving into Bendigo.  It is magnificent and is a prime example of the wealth in Bendigo in the mid 19th century.

It is built on a hill in the centre of town and can be seen all around the town.