Alta Restaurant in the Quay West Resort & Spa complex in St Falls at the bottom of the Falls Express chairlift opened its doors to the public last winter. The restaurant initially ran on an Argentinean theme - and was very nice. This year there is a distinct focus on local produce. A comment from discerning customers during dinner last week went along the lines of “A comfortable and rewarding step from last winter.”
Dinner last week proved to be an enjoyable experience. A knowledgeable dinner companion with a penchant for sharing makes the dining experience just that little bit more special.
The open kitchen along the northern wall caters neatly to those who do want to involve themselves in the show. Chefs sautéing, pan-frying, steaming, grilling, plating up, whilst totally serious and professional - still serves to involve the customer and becomes part of the experience. The shiny pans, the Bain-marie lights, the clean white crockery - all add to the flavour.
The décor in Alta is fashionably black - broken only by the glint and glow from the kitchen, the burnt snow-gum printed walls behind the bar area and the light filtering through from outside the large windows.
For Starters, the restaurant offers a Charcuterie selection of cured meats, rillette and preserves - prepared in house and sourced exclusively from regional producers, served with toast.
Also on offer is Prosciutto, local olives, reggiano and hand made grissini; or Chorizo and marinated olives. Either choice a delightful accompaniment whilst settling in with a drink and waiting for friends.
Our entrees were delightful. One of King Valley duck and chestnut sausage with braised lentils, smoked bacon and onion jam. The other - Stony Creek smoked trout, herb crème fraiche, fennel, spring onion and apple.
Other entrée choices included:
Roasted parsnip and truffle pecorino soup with parmesan crouton
Roasted beetroot with Milawa chevre, valley grove walnuts and cress salad.
The selected mains were: Roasted Gippsland lamb rump, white bean puree, garlic, tomato and olives, and; Myrtleford Venison fillet, roesti potato with garlic, walnuts muscatels and port sauce. Both proved to be excellent selections - made even more enjoyable with a side serving of Cauliflower gratin, Milawa Blue cheese and breadcrumbs.
Other mains may be chosen from:
Milawa free range chicken breast, cauliflower, silver beet, peas and pancetta.
Blue eye cod with osso bucco ravioli, celeriac puree, spinach and soft leeks.
Kiewa Valley aged Angus beef fillet, wild mushrooms, mustard spatzle and horseradish.
Mushroom tart, Milawa blue cheese, roasted shallots, rocket and shaved pecorino.
Other side choices included: Mixed leaf salad, avocado, tomato, olives and cucumber; Steamed greens, olive oil and hazelnuts; Mashed potato or French fries.
Dessert was the warm pear and ginger cake with ice cream and honeycomb,
with many other delicious desserts to choose from, like -
Bittersweet chocolate pudding, hazelnut mousse and pistachio nougatine.
Raspberry frangipane tart with raspberry ice cream, Almond milk pannacotta, poached rhubarb and quince puree.
Also on offer is a Gundowring Ice cream selection and a Milawa cheese platter hand selected by executive chef, James Webb.
James and his family moved to the area last winter and, thankfully, James stayed on over summer to continue to delight patrons this winter.
Alta’s wine list is solid with a range of five or six sparklings, a dozen or so whites selected from around this country and across the Tasman.
Approximately a dozen reds also adorn the wine list and these are selected from around the country with a couple of Kiwi’s thrown in.
The Plunkett Strathbogie Pinot by the glass was enjoyable, as was the bottle of 2007 Smiths Vineyard Shiraz from Heathcote. As the winemaker said, “What do you do when frosts and fire stop you from making a Beechworth Shiraz? - you make a Heathcote one. From the Greenstone vineyard on the Camel range, this shiraz has classic Heathcote earthiness and chocolate, with some supple spices coming through.” Not bad from a guy who also does some marketing for Falls Creek.
Maitre de, Anthony Morris, with a back-ground from the more intimate wine bar scene in Melbourne, advised that the quality and range of the local produce was, in his opinion, excellent and he felt it was has role to ensure the clients enjoy and appreciate the quality the region provides.
After all of that, a nice stroll outside to enjoy the snowmaking and the lights of the Slalom Plaza water feature. Buona Notte