Five regional restaurants worth the drive
The esteemed Michelin Guide may not yet grace Australian shores, but we know five regional Australian restaurants worth a special journey. From Tasmania to Queensland, set your GPS for delicious dining.
Lake House, Daylesford
Distance from Melbourne: 110 kilometres
If there’s an establishment that has changed a town – for the better – it’s Lake House. When chef Alla Wolf-Tasker opened her hotel-spa-restaurant here in 1984, she did so with a mission to hero local. Alla established Daylesford Macedon Produce, uniting purveyors, then launched Dairy Flat Farm, just a few kilometres up the road. Produce from her orchard, olive grove, veggie garden and paddocks star on the Lake House menu. If Alla doesn’t grow, make or raise it, passionate Daylesford foodies do. Needless to say, menus change regularly – think autumnal chestnut gnocchi with a ragout of forest mushrooms and truffled pecorino, or buttermilk-cooked black Berkshire pork with chicharrón, mustard and quince. Walk off your meal browsing the quaint antiques stores for which the region is known, or head for a soak in a mineral bath.
Distance from Sydney: 130 kilometres
Your drive from Sydney to Berrima transports you to the heart of the Southern Highlands, a bucolic pocket of countryside coloured with ornate gardens, fields of grape vines and historic towns. Fun fact: Berrima is the best-preserved Georgian village in Australia. It’s here you’ll find Eschalot , where chef-owner Matty Roberts showcases the Highlands’ finest produce – much of it grown in the kitchen garden – across a mod-Aus menu. Depending on the season, highlights might include smoked truffled butter on house-baked bread, gin-cured salmon with garden kimchi and whipped tofu, or Rangers Valley black onyx sirloin, slathered in chimichurri. Indecisive? Leave ordering in Matty’s hands with the “feed me” option.
Van Bone, Bream Creek
Distance from Hobart: 50 kilometres
If you haven’t heard of Bream Creek, you’re not alone. This dot on the map, 45 minutes outside Hobart, is home to Van Bone , perched on a hilltop surrounded by green fields stretching all the way to Marion Bay. The restaurant’s striking exterior – replete with four-metre-high rammed-earth walls – belies a pared-back dining room where chef Timothy Hardy prepares an innovative 14-course meal celebrating Tassie produce, whether grown on-site or sourced within a few kilometres of where you sit. It’s exclusive – there’s only space for 20 – which guarantees personal service courtesy of Hardy’s partner and restaurant manager, Laura Stucken. Together they dish up the prettiest of plates, with almost everything cooked over coals or kissed by fire. Hardy even makes his own salt, collecting seawater and leaving it to evaporate overnight.
The Long Apron, Montville
Distance from Brisbane: 100 kilometres
Smoked swordfish with apple and seaweed, aged duck breast with caramelised pineapple and chocolate jus, roasted Moreton Bay bug with parsley butter – The Long Apron is a little bit French, and a lot Queensland. The Sunshine Coast stars on the menu at this restaurant, set amid the dreamy gardens of Spicers Clovelly Estate. If you don’t fancy lunch or dinner degustations with matching wines, you can opt for a picnic hamper. These hampers include house charcuterie and pickles, cheese and a selection of sweet treats — the appeal of which is matched by the hinterland setting on which you lay your blanket down. If you overindulge, the estate’s rooms and suites come replete with comforts like windowside tubs and open fires.
Appellation, Barossa Valley
Distance from Adelaide: 80 kilometres
Many consider Appellation to be a “backstage pass to the Barossa” – each bite and every sip you take in the dining room tells a story of this legendary grape-growing region outside Adelaide. Of course, if you’ve visited the Barossa Farmers Markets (and you should) then you’ll know it’s not just grapes that thrive here. There are orchards of apples and apricots, fields of strawberries, and pastures home to very happy free-range chooks and pigs. At Appellation – given pride of place on the manicured grounds of The Louise boutique lodge – this bounty is transformed into blue swimmer crab with miso and pomello, perhaps, or Gumshire pork with muntries and wild fennel. In your glass? A bold Barossa shiraz, we say.
Help on the road when you need it
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