Fried barramundi wings
I love a dish that is unapologetically simple. A dish that pares back kitchen trickery, sauces, and spices to allow a celebration of the star ingredient. Food such as this requires premium produce and a technically deft chef who isn’t out to prove a point.
Baveras, it appears, has both. An entrée of fried barramundi wings proves that.
Arriving perched like a golden tent, the two wings, fins and all, have been flash fried and lightly dusted in Schezuan pepper. Past the cracking skin is a sweet fleshy centre that overrides the Schezuan heat. A squirt of lime and sticky star anise caramel adds acidity and spice to the dish, but nothing can steal the spotlight from the juicy barramundi wings.
This, folks, is how it’s done.
Pork belly entrée is a more intricate combination. Chinese cabbage, roasted peanuts, tart and crunchy apple slivers, and spring onion tumble together in a strip clutching dollops of heady nam jim and meaty cubes of pork along the way.
The pork could have used less time in the oven or the dish more nam jim for moisture, but the flavours are energising.
Head chef Darius Sarkis trained in the strict art of French cuisine at Mietta’s in Queenscliff. He’s since expanded his influences, bouncing around various kitchens in Geelong, and the menu at Baveras reflects this.
It’s an accessible mix of Middle Eastern, south-east Asian, French and European flavours that could, almost should, appear confused on the same menu. But it works.
In surrounds such as this, it’d be a travesty not to make it work. Baveras is one of four hospitality venues positioned in the beautiful building at the end of Cunningham Pier.
A dark colour palette, leather chairs, and sexy sheer drapes aid a sleek contemporary vibe that’s softened by parquetry floors and stunning water views.
The music is a little too elevator-esque for me, and the private dining room feels a bit like a conference centre, but a seat by the window is a winner. By day, the toned-down café section at the front is a great spot for coffee and cake, or a casual picturesque lunch.
Baveras is owned by EMC Group Geelong, which, also owns Lambies, Edge Geelong, Black Sheep Café and the Gold Diggers Arms.
Tonight there’s no sign of the restaurant’s prominent partners. Not that I am on high alert; I’m too busy snooping through the impressive wines that line the walls at the back of the restaurant. Cellared beauties and local drops bump-up alongside some not so recognisable international drops. It’s a great wine list and prices reflect that.
Apple and frangiapane tart
But the service could use a lift. It’s friendly enough and would be fine for day trade, but a little knowledge about the food and the wine list would elevate the evening package. I decide to stick to what I know and order a glass of local pinot noir.
It goes beautifully with the spatchcock main. Sticky with Moroccan spices, the crispy skinned bird crowns a mound of couscous and a handful of tender carrots sweet with honey and sesame. A thick drizzle of paprika yoghurt finishes the dish, giving it the required amount of moisture.
I’d have liked more thyme jus on the slow-roasted lamb shoulder, though. Rolled and stuffed with pistachio and garlic, the lamb dissolves under fork pressure and is tasty smeared with caramelised onion, but the mound of quinoa swallows all the jus, leaving the dish a little dry.
Alleviating any previous misgivings is an apple and frangipane tart. The buttery shell cradles a pillowy and balanced apple and frangipane centre that, paired with a zingy blueberry ice-cream and run through a smear of cinnamon anglaise, tastes like a warm cuddle.
Outside the water continues to lap against the building and I find myself ordering tea and lingering at the table. It’s great to know that in the heart of such an iconic building in Geelong, there is a dining experience that will make you want to do just that ... linger. Eat this Baveras Brasserie
10 Western Beach, Geelong Cuisine
Darius Sarkis Owner
EMC Group Geelong; Darren Holroyd and Cameron Ling Prices
Entrées $6-$39; mains $30-$130; desserts $15 Open
Monday-Thursday 9am-10pm; Friday-Saturday 8am-10pm; Sunday 8am-5pm Phone
5222 6377 The verdict
Put on your list www.baveras.com.au
Five-spice pork belly
Breathtaking water views are hard to surpass at this sleek, modern restaurant parked inside the iconic white weatherboard building at the end of Cunningham Pier. During the day, the pick of the tables are those along the floor-to-ceiling windows, where the water laps a mere metre away. At night, it’s best to sink into the square leather seats, or sidle into one of the high-backed banquettes and enjoy the formal ambience. Simply set tables and woven pendant lights tone down the crispness of a long marble bar, sheer black window drapes, walls stocked with decadent wines, and the striking parquetry floors.