Disclaimer: Husband, Scout and I were guests of the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice creamery for the day. All opinions expressed here are my own (but may be slightly influenced by sugar).
I mean, as if you are going to get a look-in at an ICE CREAMERY. A CHOCOLATERIE.
One of the chocolatiers educated us about CHOCOLATE (that’s right, ALL CAPS) and let us sample his wares (ahem, the truffles, dirty minxes). There were lime truffles that were slivers of dark chocolate with a solid lime curd dolloped on top, there was a chilli truffle (whoever first combined chilli with chocolate needs one of those Nobel Prizes for Awesomeness). A spearmint truffle with mint sourced from their very own kitchen garden. A truffle with a filling of whipped cream infused with Earl Grey tea. A strawberry truffle with white chocolate shaped like a strawberry (genius!). They were magnificent. MAGNIFICENT, I tell you. But you don’t care, you’re too busy counting goddamn calories to appreciate it, aren’t you?
And as for lunch, well, Ros and I topped it off with the most remarkable honeycomb and chocolate ice cream sundae, served in a HUGE goblet. It was bigger than my daughter! Alright then, a lie, but I just want you to understand the full extent of my gluttony. How is your calorie counting going now??? You are LOSING! LOSING!
So. Go nibble on some celery or something while I finish my dessert.
Yours not-so faithfully,
The newest Yarra Valley Chocolaterie convert
Sheesh, enough about the chocolate already. This place is seriously the bomb. Only an hour drive out of Melbourne, it is an architecturally designed oasis perched on a hill in Yarra Glen. The cafe spills out onto a large wooden deck, lined with comfy bench seats and overlooking a patchwork landscape of low rolling hills and fields. The lunch menu has fairly standard (although delicious) fare – pizzas, paninis, pastas and salads. But let’s be honest, you wouldn’t make the trip for the lunch. You would totally save yourself for the desserts – waffles, sundaes, parfaits, gateaux and tarts – all made by their in-house patissieres (many of whom have been sourced from overseas).
The owners Ian and Leeane Neeland are delightful and their attention to detail is impeccable. The branding, the staff recruitment, the free chocolate and ice cream tastings, the experience of peeking into the world of chocolate being crafted, all of it is superb. This is the kind of place you not only want to visit, but want to work in/for.
If I were to make one small criticism, it would be that, for a family experience, something simple like a playground close to the cafe/factory would better entertain the very little ones. We took Scout with us, and she was fine – there was a colouring station, tastings and monumental sugar rushes to keep her going, but Inky (2 y.o) would have spent most of the time trying to pull down the chocolates from the showroom stands. It is a marvellous thing though, to witness how a cup of ice cream (which was AMAZING, can I tell you) can melt away an impending toddler tantrum.
Otherwise, the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery is hard to fault. It’s a very new destination (only 3 weeks old) and Ian and Leeane seem determined to turn this place into a remarkable Victorian tourist attraction. With passion like that, it’s easy to see that they will succeed.
So step away from the celery stick and get your Augustus Gloop ON people.
- What was the bill? Entry is free, as is a basic chocolate and ice cream tasting and a 15 minute chocolate factory tour. We were guests of YVCI, but lunch for 4 + coffee for 2 (including a decadent dessert) would be about $90.
- Where is it? Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice creamery (YVCI) 35 Old Healesville Road (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen, Victoria.
- How kid-friendly is it? 9.5/10. There is a “Kid’s lunchbox” ($11), babycinos, highchairs, a colouring station on the deck, chocolatiers to watch through the windows. Very young kids may get bored in the showroom, though (assuming they haven’t already conked out post sugar-crash). The grounds are huge and have gardens and an orchard, so plenty of space to run around on a non-40 degree day.