THE Gateway Tavern’s new dining sensation ‘Verde’ opened with much fanfare last week and is already proving to be a big hit with locals and visitors alike who have flocked there in large numbers.

The ‘Weekly paid a visit to the latest addition to Mildura’s dining scene and in keeping with the name – which is Spanish for ‘green’ there is an abundance of greenery that greets you as you walk into through Verde’s entrance.

Complemented by warm timber finishes and large ceiling fans gently rotating above the rafters, these architectural features combine to create a relaxing, stylish setting.

Gateway Tavern CEO, Gordon McIlwaine, has been living and breathing the multi-million dollar renovation project for more than two years and is delighted that Verde and the adjacent new Club Bar are finally open for business.

“It’s been a long haul and we have had tremendous support from all of the local companies who have been involved with the construction and fit out,” he said.

“It was a desire of the board to go with local suppliers and that has paid dividends. They understand what the board’s intent was and from a cultural and community perspective, it ticks all the boxes.

“Despite some delays due to COVID, things have progressed well, and in particular CPM building contractors have been fantastic in their purchasing and the way they have gone about everything and have kept us in the loop every step of the way.”

What may well be referred to as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the Gateway, Verde is certainly an impressive venue that has to be seen to be appreciated.

This alfresco café and restaurant is a vibrant space that exudes a casual elegance that is both inviting and relaxing.

The space features high-tables and stools, European style café/bistro table and chairs, as well comfortable lounges and club style seating.

An intimate area has been set aside in one corner of Verde for the CUBE, a sophisticated space for elegant dining.

The bar is state-of- the-art, featuring multiple taps, serving a range of imported and craft beers as well as Australian favourites including Carlton Draught.

An extensive range of fine wines are also a stand-out feature, with many local wines being stocked as well as famous labels from other regions.

The all-important food menu, which will be prepared in the Verde’s new kitchen, will specialise in mouth-watering, charcuterie boards with a variety of meats from ‘the smoker’ including lamb shoulder, brisket and pork belly.

Traditional favourites like parmys and schnitzels, and of course a range of fabulous tasty pizzas will be on the menu together with some appetising starters and antipasto platters.

And, the plan is to introduce a more extensive menu in the coming months.

“The dining experience in terms of flavour is where we are really aiming to create that point of difference,” Mr McIlwaine said.

“As people come out to enjoy the spring and summer months ahead, Verde is certainly somewhere I believe they will be attracted to visit.

“I think it is a jewel and it’s certainly something that Mildura deserves.

“There has been a view for a very long time that you need to go to Adelaide or Melbourne to enjoy this level of quality. Well now you don’t.”

Mr McIlwaine said that while Verde offers casual elegance, it also offers diversity.

“You come to the Gateway and you have a family bistro,” he said.

“You come to Verde and you have a café, a very nice dining experience and then another level to be enjoyed will be CUBE, offering seating for 40 – 50 guests and it will serve locally inspired dishes using native herbs and fresh produce grown in the region – infused with all sorts of interesting things.

“And we also have the Club Bar – our sports bar – adjacent and so where you sit down to have a drink and wait for friends, is not where you have to have your dinner anymore.

“You can go from location to location and so it is that diversity that I think will really appeal to people – I think diversity is the spice of life.”

The Gateway is already a big employer and with this expansion comes more opportunities for people to join their growing team.

“We are just about to cross over the 80 employees level and we will keep heading north of that,” Mr McIlwaine said.

“We are very lucky to have an enthusiastic group of individuals who come together marvellously as a team and they are very proud of what we are, what we do and how we do it.”

Initially the café in Verde will open from 10.30 in the morning and in due course will begin serving breakfast and the hours of operation will otherwise be similar to the rest of the Gateway.

Food service in Verde will be available from noon until 9pm, following which light snacks and pizzas will be served up until close.

“I think sitting in Verde at 9.30 at night on a hot balmy summer’s evening with a nice glass of chardonnay or a crisp riesling or a cold ale, while enjoying a smoked meat pizza – sounds pretty good doesn’t it?” Mr McIlwaine asked.

With both Verde and the Sports Bar now open and already being heavily patronised, it is absolutely advisable to book your table in advance.

• Bookings can be made by phoning the Gateway Tavern on 5021 3288.

– JOHN DOOLEY