Provenance is worthy of a journey. Located three to four hours north of Melbourne in the relatively small town of Beechworth, the two-hatted restaurant combines a grand setting with a contemporary dining experience for one exceptional culinary adventure.
Located in the perfectly preserved former Bank of Australasia, Provenance is just as valuable to modern-day foodies as Beechworth’s gold was to miners during the late 1800s. This time round diners are guaranteed to strike lucky, with an Asian and European menu created by renowned chef, Michael Ryan.
Michael and his wife Jeanette Henderson own the restaurant and its accompanying luxury suites. Having already put nearby Myrtleford on the map with their last venture, Range, they set their sights on Beechworth, taking over the 19th century bank building in late 2008.
A few dynamite sticks later, the space was restored to its former glory. The result: high ceilings, timber floors, brass light fittings, a large fireplace and tall windows that showcase the tree-lined streets outside. The former bank vault houses the restaurant’s wine cellar, with each drop selected by Jeanette. Inside you’ll find a good mix of both local and international drops, with an emphasis on wines made nearby.
This local prominence also extends to the menu, where Michael combines Asian and European flavours and techniques with ingredients from nearby producers. However, no showman performs without practice. On top of Range, Michael completed stints at Milawa Cheese Company and Beechworth’s Wardens. These experiences saw him develop a respect for seasonality, a sensibility that shines through his menu.
Every night, he successfully performs a juggling act with these elements, placing King Valley beef on the same plate as braised daikon, dashi butter, house-made mustard and furikake.
His signature dish is arguably the garfish starter. One fillet is de-boned and filleted, with the skeleton removed whole. It’s then dried and fried and laid whole across the fish – cured in soy and mirin – resulting in a complex combination of textures and tastes.
It’s just the first indication of what’s to come – unexpected techniques and ingredients appear throughout, from the Chantenay carrot cooked in its own juice, served with dried beef crumble, raisin puree and yuba, to the Berkshire pork neck, cooked in soy milk and accompanied by radish and beets cooked in dashi, fermented pumpkin and burnt garlic oil.
For a thorough exploration of the kitchen team’s skills, opt for the degustation menu. Vegetarians will delight in the meat-free version, considered by many as a love letter to the humble vegetable.
Jeanette’s extensive wine knowledge is paired with the experience of Sommelier Damian Moylan, and put on full display in the degustation, with the option to match a drop to each course. However, a la carte diners can also take full advantage of their experience: with a vault of wines to choose from, there will be something for every taste.
Provenance is a regional gem. It collates the best of the region and bundles it up into one pretty package, wrapped and delivered by one unbeatable husband-and-wife team.