Just metres from a ridge of red gums that line the northern bank of the Murray River, restaurant Junction Moama is geographically in New South Wales. But despite its position north of the border, it’s a place to get acquainted with Victorian cuisine.
It is set within the grounds of the Moama Bowling Club and to reach it you pass through a scene typical of a country RSL before entering into the alternate world of Junction – all recycled bricks, joinery and leather, designed by Altis Architectures and Abeo Interiors. It opened in 2015 and is a fascinating model – one that sees a large local institution attempt to move away from the standard club fare into more refined regional dining.
Head chef Michael Giarrusso (formerly of Gary Mehigan’s Fenix), sources most of his produce from Victoria. Olive oil is made locally at Cockatoo Grove, and his Wagyu beef is from Cohuna, a small town about half an hour away. Giarrusso’s signature zucchini flower dish, which is served with Persian feta and romesco sauce, is grown in Echuca. A few items, such as Berkshire pork from Bundarra, come from the New South Wales side.
While the produce is mostly local, Giarrusso’s inspirations are resolutely global. His personal favourite (and this writer’s, too) is a dish of Wagyu tataki – a piece of rump cap lightly caramelised on the outside and red-raw within, dressed in black-bean vinegar and served with water chestnuts and chilli jam on top of a crisp tempura betel leaf.
“It’s really fresh, lots of coriander through it, but really earthy as well,” he explains. “It sums me up – I like the Asian fusion in food.”
Junction’s wine and cocktail selection is resolutely south of the border. Sourced from Healesville, Grampians, King Valley and Geelong, the wine list is heavy on local names such as Innocent Bystander and Farr Rising. The cocktail list is designed by one of Melbourne’s best-known bartenders, Fred Siggins of Black Pearl. His Murray River Martini uses Melbourne Gin Company gin, Maidenii dry vermouth, Pennyweight fino sherry and apricot bitters.
Junction Moama is a focal point for the region’s longstanding farmers and producers.
Perhaps we should just let Victoria claim Moama as theirs.
Tim Grey dined as a guest of Junction Moama, and stayed at Hotel Talo.
6 Shaw Street Moama, NSW
1800 806 777
Sat & Sun 12pm–late