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On the way to Taggerty we stopped in at Innocent Bystanderin Healesville for dinner. Innocent Bystander is a restaurant/winery/cellar door for Innocent Bystander and Giant Steps. It is a cavernous, dimly lit space (terrible for food photography!). As a plus, it has a foosball table in the centre of the restaurant, so while the boys got on with a post-dinner match, I got on with some post-dinner wine tasting. Awesome.

On to the food, to start (a fairly terrible photo) of some delicious pumpkin arancini ($8):

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Arancini often suffer the fate of being bland and gluggy, but not these ones. They were  really tasty and had a surprise of Meredith goat’s cheese inside. I’ll be ordering these next time for sure.

We also ordered a side of handcut chips, from local Dobsons potatoes, with aioli ($8) and fries with truffle and parmesan ($10):

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I was really pumped to try the chips made from the local Dobson potatoes but they were a little lacklustre. The real winner for me were the parmesan and truffle fries, which oddly took me back to a bar in Tokyo, where Mr M and I ordered fries and the waiter came with a mandolin and shaved the truffle onto the fries before our eyes (we went back the next two nights, just for the fries). While these fries were not quite the same as the truffled fries of my memory, they were damned good. Rich, salty and earthy they were very moreish. I would come back for these fries alone.

But I needn’t come back just for the fries, the rest of the food was pretty damned good too.

The menu is predominantly pizza, so after the antipasti, there was not a lot for wheat free me. Innocent Bystander does have a gluten free menu available although on a cold night, I didn’t think there were heaps of hearty, warming options (other than the char grilled black angus rib eye, $32). That was, until I saw the soup – lamb shoulder, vegetable & lentil soup with fresh ricotta & mint ($19):

This doesn’t look pretty (and my bad photo does not help), but this was really, really good. A rich, warming broth studded with meltingly tender pieces of lamb. The mint and the peas added a burst of freshness. Yum.

The rest of the table ordered a range of pizzas that I am not qualified to comment on. From top to bottom, margherita ($19), calabrese ($22) and zucchini, fennel, caper and lemon & roasted garlic ($19):

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Mr M tells me that the pizzas were “good without being great”. That said, he would go back and eat them again.

EDIT: a mate of mine that was also at this dinner rang me to say that she thought Mr M’s pizza comment was incorrect. She is a big fan of the pizzas at Innocent Bystander.

We washed our dinner down with copious bottles of Innocent Bystander 2009 pinot noir ($28) and 2008 sangiovese ($29). We also picked tasted and bought a few bottles of the Giant Steps wines and bread from their on site bakery.

All in all, a fun, relaxed atmosphere with good food and great wine. I’m looking forward to visiting again next time I make my way out to Healesville.

Details

Innocent Bystander
336 Maroondah Highway, Healesville VIC
Ph: (03) 5962 6111

Giant Steps / Innocent Bystander Winery on Urbanspoon

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4 Responses to “Innocent bystander: boozy country goodness”

  1. Tresna says:

    I am a huge fan of IB. Anywhere that can bring together wine, cheese, bread and coffee is a winner in my book! Pity you weren’t there for lunch as it then becomes one of the finest dining venues for food photography – loads of natural light. Loved reading about your experience.

  2. Sarah says:

    I have to say that I disagree with Mr M on his comment on the pizza’s being “good but not great”. I actually think that they are the best pizzas I have had in a long time. I think even calling the pizza’s great is to understate it. We were back there last Friday night and thought the pizzas were fantastic. I particuarly enjoy the taste of the base, not too doughy or thin – they were just right. I wonder if it was the topping that Mr M decided upon…

  3. Andrea says:

    I actually thought I read on Innocent Bystander’s website that the pizzas are made with a sourdough base – if that’s the case then I’d be really interested to know what the flavour was like! I know someone said above that they thought they were just right in texture and thickness. Either way, can’t wait to go there! We really are spoilt in Melbourne (and outskirts) for choice.

    • Emily says:

      I checked with one of my pizza eating pals and she doesn’t think the pizzas are sourdough, or at least, that they didn’t taste very sourdough-ish! I can’t let you know from experience as I can’t eat pizza due to the wheat factor! If you go there I’d love to hear your report!

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