Driving the inland route between Melbourne and Sydney isn’t as dry an experience as one would think. Nestled along that 10-hour stretch is a wealth of experiential gems – whether it be in the form of wineries, bed and breakfasts, or restaurants.
Provenance Restaurant and Luxury Suites in Beechworth, just south of the New South Wales border, is the perfect example. It is the kind of place that makes you reconsider your itinerary and stay another day.
Provenance is housed in a classic late 19th Century building that started its life as the Bank of Australasia. Built in 1856 at the height of the gold rush, it housed banks for almost a century until 1951, when it transformed from a lodging house for nuns, into a run-down squat, a jewellers residence and then finally a restaurant.
Owner and Chef Michael Ryan took over the building 13 years ago, after selling his restaurant, Range in Myrtleford. “We were really looking for a building which gave its own character to a restaurant. The old Bank of Australasia building was perfect,” says Ryan
True to word, the building is steeped in charm and character. The waiters’ bells hang dormant beside the staircase, soaring six-metre ceilings border original arched windows, and the old bank vault has been put to good use as a wine cellar.
Most curious of all is the delicate Japanese influence found in the food – and the tastefully hung art. “I have always had an affinity for Japanese design and food. What I most like about Japanese cuisine is that a small number of base ingredients, used in different portions and with different techniques can produce such varied results,” says Ryan.
“The artwork in the restaurant is a mixture of [Japanese] prints and modern pop art. Being an old building, we feel it is important not to [do] a complete period refit, but to include small modern touches throughout the building.”
Of Provenance’s luxury suites, class is no compromise, with all the suites having undergone modern refits. Rooms feature double spas, double rain showers, king-size beds – and they’re the only place you want to go after you’ve finished in the restaurant! “Those who stay and dine with us return for all of the above, but also for the comfort and relaxation that our accommodation provides,” says Ryan.
Provenance has been named:
– No. 30 in the Gourmet Traveller Top 100 Restaurants in Australia
– Best New Country Restaurant in The Age Good Food Guide, 2010
– One Chef’s Hat in the Age Good Food Guide, 2010.