North East Victoria has a new fine dining restaurant that cements Beechworth as one of the nation’s best food and wine destinations. The Empire Hotel, Beechworth, is a great old pub that has undergone a monumental transformation.
What was once a dreary dive is now a light, bright, family-friendly pub bar with a brilliant 42-seat dining room. Owners Andrew Madden, Scott Daintry and Shauna Stockwell gutted the two-story gold rush era pub, got rid of the gambling facilities, polished the floorboards hidden under sticky carpet and created a bright, fun place to eat and drink. The bar offers 25 cocktails, craft beers, local wines by the glass and a very smart bar menu with an extended bar fare menu from 3-9pm.
The team has plenty of experience. Madden, who worked at Longrain, Otto and Fuel Bistro in Sydney, brings polished and accomplished service to both the bar and dining room. Chef Shauna Stockwell previously worked at the award-winning Stanley Hotel and cooked with icons such as David Thompson at Darley Street Thai and Genevieve Harris at The Bathers’ Pavilion. Her food is bright and modern, based on classic technique and traditional favourites. The dining room is found downstairs at the end of the bar and pairs a warm, simple space of bare brick walls with a dramatic raised fireplace.
Start the meal with lightly Cured Kingfish layered in a fragrant, clear bath of gazpacho topped with almond and Pedro Ximénez sorbet. Stockwell grew up in Asia and has cooked around the world, so her trans-global offerings, such as a plate of succulent Beef Tataki topped with a fermented paste of chilli and yuzu citrus peel, have an authentic ring.
Mains are generously portioned and beautifully plated, like the perfectly trimmed, deep gold, confit Duck Maryland, served with the sweetest new season kipfler potatoes, a chiffonade of chard and Stockwell’s own pickled cherries – sweet/sour ruby orbs. The food is brilliantly executed but offered in a casual atmosphere where the customer is made the heart of the experience. Menus change to showcase seasonal produce.
Empire Hotel Beechworth
10 Camp Street, Beechworth, Victoria
Tel 03 5728 2743