A hidden gem in country Victoria, Bank Street Wood Fire Pizza and Garden is in a class of its own.
I first visited Bank Street in 2012 (http://justinbishop.com.au/blog/2012/4/16/bank-street-wood-fired-pizza-and-garden.html) The cafe, designed, built and operated by my close friends Janelle Toomey and Callum Kaka, is always on my wish list of favourite getaway destinations.
I'm happy to sit as a guest, enjoying a pizza or a platter, featuring a selection of home grown produce (mixing it perfectly with a local drop of sparkling). This visit, however, we were able to witness some behind the scenes magic as Janelle and Callum prepped seamlessly for this evenings full house of guests. Janelle managed constant calls from last minute hopefuls with finesse, trying to secure them all a table (she hates turning people away). Callum controlled the kitchen effortlessly, stoking their enormous custom built wood fire oven, making perfect dough from scratch and editing a delicious selection of local produce that makes up Bank Streets eclectic pizza menu.
I am always impressed by the creative use of the seasonal fair that makes it's way into the Bank Street Kitchen. This week, for instance, Bluey Shelton, (an ex Essendon Footballer and now local identity) delivered a box of his enormous home grown figs to the kitchen door. Callum had already designed a pizza around these (Fig with prosciutto and blue cheese, topped with rocket and Parmesan). The figs, on occasion, have also found their way into home made ice cream. The cafe sells tubs to take home!
While the kitchen and cafe bustles with activity, I take the time to revisit Bank Streets exquisite gardens. They extend through the outdoor eating area, through manicured beds edged with English box (and filled a luscious selection of vegetables, herbs and spices). following along pebbled paths that continue on to an ornamental lake. The gardens sit under the canopy of enormous specimen trees that provide shade and shelter for outdoor entertaining throughout the year. (Janelle and Callum have just taken a booking to host a wedding in this very spot!)
Before we know it, it's time to leave, and again I am filled with a sense of loss. It is hard to drag ourselves away from the company of our friends, and the serenity of this idyllic location!
We will be back soon, to Bank Street!
Bank Street Wood Fire Pizza and Garden
5 Bank Street, Avenel, Victoria