February 15, 2019 / By Oceana Setaysha
Where to eat in this heritage town? The streets of Castlemaine might not be paved with gold anymore, but there’s little doubt the plates still are. This historic heritage town is experiencing a new life as a foodie destination, with a wealth of great cafés, restaurants and eateries ready to take your palette and passion for food to an entirely new level. Artisanal, gourmet, and delightfully unique, the hardest decision to make in Castlemaine is where to stop and taste the wares. Hopefully, this little list will help!
Theatre Royal Bistro Lola (above)
The magic of classic cinema lives again at Theatre Royal, Castlemaine’s iconic picture hall which came to life in 1854. In the years since it’s burned down (twice) and been reimagined as a nightclub before it found its niche right where it started. Now, along with great arthouse cinema, the Theatre Royal also offers a fantastic little espresso bar (Tuesday to Sunday from 2pm), wine bar and in-house bistro (Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm). At the Bistro Lola patrons can enjoy European food with a focus on local producers, and some seriously creative pizzas. Takeaway is available for pizza, or you can sit in the bistro (bookings appreciated) and soak in the elegant atmosphere.
For Italian lovers looking for authenticity and atmosphere, Origini is the place to find both in Castlemaine. This adorably sweet family-run café relishes the experience, and no doubt you will too. Luca, the café’s owner, is always on hand to ensure his guests are stuffing their faces with his delightful dishes, and enjoying every moment. On the menu you can expect Italian wonders like handmade beef ravioli, piadinas, bruschetta, minestrone soup and zuppa, along with a range of Italian sweets. Breakfast is served with quality coffee, and on Friday night the doors stay open until 9pm for fantastic pizza with all the authentic Italian toppings you can think of.
Johnny Baker (above)
Located at the back of the Newnorthern Hotel, Johnny Baker is a little patisserie with a very big reputation. The shop itself is a tight fit, but there's a fabulous outdoor caravan for drive-thru ensuring there are ample options to go. Fast-paced and delicious to the extreme, Johnny Baker offers up pies, breads and sweets to the pastry-loving crowds. Highly recommended are the classic and almond croissants, as well as the Danish selection, many of which use local fruits to complete the taste sensation. Don’t forget to grab a coffee on your way past the drive through, or if you want to hang around keep your fingers crossed for space on the tables out the front.
Started by a mother-daughter duo with a passion for serving up great food to culinary lovers, Fig is a super cute French provincial-style café that is guaranteed to leave an impression. Expect seasonal food with a very familiar, home-style twist punctuated by oodles of delicious local produce. With cakes, Fig puts on a great show with stunning sponges, tantalising tea cake and a chocolate meringue that will knock your socks off. Check opening times before you arrive, and catch breakfast or lunch at this one-of-a-kind venue, either people watching in the sunroom or lounging by the fireplace in the main room. Coffee, cake and charming food, what more could you ask for?
Public Inn (above)
There’s something very memorable about dining in an antique fire station, particularly in a village as historic as Castlemaine, and that’s just what you get at the Public Inn. Located in Castlemaine’s old first station, circa 1906, the Public Inn is definitely a dinner spot to put on your shortlist. Their wealth of delicious European inspired dishes pair perfectly with flavours unique to both Australia and Castlemaine, making your palette feel very well-travelled indeed. Uniquely, the Public Inn pours their wines straight from the wall, where the barrels are mounted behind the bar. Not only does this offer much more environmentally considerate wines in terms of distance travelled and waste, but you can get as much or as little as you want poured.
There’s a reason the coffee at Das Kaffeehaus is so good: the owners are Austrian coffee experts. Under their roasting label Coffee Basics they’ve been roasting coffee for 10 solid years, and it shows in the quality and variety of the coffee at Das Kaffeehaus, which opened in 2015. Located in The Mill building, Castlemaine’s historic food and artisan quarter, Das Kaffeehaus patrons can expect a taste of Austria in rural Victoria, with tastes like sauerkraut, goulash and kransky as well as an impressive display of cakes. Set in a café that is very much a slice of Viennese teahouse, Das Kaffeehaus is definitely worth stopping in on! So, if you’ve got a trip planned to Castlemaine, the only question worth asking now is: where are you eating?
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