February 10, 2020 / By Oceana Setaysha
For foodies with their finger on the pulse, the annual Australian Good Food Guide is a must-read. To get one ‘hat, a restaurant needs a minimum score of 15 out of 20 based on factors such as ingredients, taste, presentation, technique, value and consistency. To get two or three hats, a restaurant has to be outstanding.
This year's Guide confirms there’s a lot of gourmet action happening outside city limits. So if you’re looking for a weekend away that guarantees a top food experience, here are the top 10 regional restaurants worth travelling for.
Hentley Farm, Seppeltsfield - Two Hats
Constantly changing and evolving, Hentley Farm does not publish its menu and offers the Chef’s choice on the day. With a strong focus on using local produce, including native plants growing on the property and in the waterways, the restaurant specialises in dishes that are dynamic and bold but not over done. Located in a streamlined glass box with a view over gumtrees, it is part farmhouse part luxury suite. Chef Lachlan Colwill elegantly pairs each dish with Hentley Farm wines (exclusively served).
D’Arenberg Cube, McLaren Vale - One hat
With South African husband and wife team Brendan Wessels and Lindsay Dürr at the helm, there was never any doubt that D’Arenberg Cube would stand out. A unique dining adventure, it is imaginative and playful at every turn. The decor features colourful dining chairs, tables crafted from old oak barrels and lots of eclectic art. The menu is surprising, with creative food pairings that will impress the most sophisticated of foodies. There is also an extensive 10-chapter drinks menu, featuring dozens of international wines and sakes alongside the vineyards own offerings.
Brae, Birregurra - Three hats
A fully immersive treat for the senses, Brae is more than just a place to eat, it’s an experience. The glass-fronted kitchen is where Dan Hunter’s magic happens, a stage on which spectators can watch dégustations become reality. Beyond the kitchen, the courtyard wood oven takes care of the sourdough bread and other smokey delights, while the vegetable garden, orchard, chicken coop and bee hive provide an abundance of food for this farm-to-table establishment. Brae is definitely in a league of its own.
Provenance, Beechworth - Two Hats
Although Provenance has been around a while, it never fails to deliver. Offering a fine dining experience with a Japanese twist, it is hidden inside a heritage bank building with high ceilings, a large fireplace, polished timber floors and a vault which now houses the wine cellar. Current dishes include blue mackerel sashimi, dai dai ponzu, yuzu kosho and cold pressed sunflower oil; tri tip, braised daikon, charred onion, café de Tokyo butter and hazelnuts; and bright single origin chocolate, poached cherries, beetroot, cherry blossom ice cream. Definitely a restaurant not to be missed!
Igni, Geelong - Two Hats
You might not expect to find one of Victoria’s best restaurants in the backstreets of Geelong’, but like so many of the dishes plated up here, Igni is something special. One of the unique features is that Chef Aaron Turner makes sure every table experiences food a little differently, so don't expect to be eating the same dish as your neighbours are. But for those willing to try unexpected combinations and delectable flavours, Igni is a definite must-do.
Wickens At Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld - Two hats
A picturesque view of the Grampians plays a stunning backdrop to executive chef Robin Wickens’ restaurant, located in the Royal Mail Hotel. There’s a real sense of place here, in both the layout - with the kitchen set like a stage and all the dining tables facing it - and the dedication to locally grown and farmed ingredients. The hotel gardens provide much of the produce, and then there's the high-quality local meats that make the journey more than worthwhile.
Lake House, Daylesford - Two Hats
Renowned Australia-wide, the Daylesford Lake House has always been the destination restaurant in the region. A long-standing champion of seasonal, regionally produced foods, the menu is positively brimming with ingredients that really showcase what is special about the area. The food matches perfectly the dining setting – a bright and tranquil room adjacent to the lake, for an all-around culinary treasure.
Oakridge, Coldstream - One Hat
Oakridge might look like a typical winery restaurant, but there’s so much more to this eaterythan meets the eye. The home turf of one of the country’s best food teams, Jo Barrett and Matt Stone, Oakridge is all about sustainable, locally grown food and great wine. Think hot smoked emu, cured egg yolk and salsa verde, or rainbow trout, meyer lemon, caviar and champagne sauce. There are also stunning views over the vineyard to the mountains to gaze upon Take some time out of the city and experience sustainability and talent all in one delicious morsel at Oakridge.
New South Wales
Fleet, Brunswick Heads - Two Hats
When it comes to restaurants there’s cosy, there’s small, and then there’s Fleet, Brunswick Head’s tinyest and tastiest dining venue. Expansive in tastes, and intimate in setting, the ingredients are extensively sourced from the surrounding area, and feature local delights such as arrow squid, spanner crab, bottarga, romanesco, acorn squash and much more. Savour the outstanding wine list and be pampered by the personal service that is utterly enchanting.
Biota, Bowral - Two Hats
From the moment you arrive at Biota in Bowral, you'll see it's not your ordinary restaurant. The on-trend Nordic design of the dining room contrasts with the wide green lawns, expansive kitchen gardens, duck pond and relaxing outdoor terraces. The food is similarly striking - think grilled fish wings and local mandarins, or dried fushimi pepper dusted over creamed eggs and morsels of Weipa mud crab. This restaurant is guaranteed to surprise and delight.
We think you should know: we do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the business or other entities listed in, or referred to in this guide.