One of my favourite spots for a weekend getaway is Daylesford, Victoria’s very own spa country. Daylesford is a peaceful and tranquil town first made famous by its mineral springs and spas. Now it has blossomed into a well-deserved culinary destination in its own right, for its rich produce and award-winning restaurants.
Whether it’s a cosy escape to a log cabin in winter, or a lakeside cottage in summer, the Daylesford region is certainly an area fit for any season; and its quality food and beverage is second to none. Read on for a food-inspired guide that covers the best things to eat and drink that Daylesford and its surrounds has to offer.
Beautifully set on a spectacular 125-acre estate along Ballan-Daylesford Road, Sault is one of Daylesford’s finest dining options. Housed in a gorgeous sandstone country building and flanked by purple lavender fields and a pristine lake, you’ll be transported to the Provence countryside in no time.
Inspired by regional, seasonally-changing produce, the menu is modern Australian with a Spanish twist. Start with tapas fresh from the garden and sea, then work your way to mains – think roast corn-fed duck breast paired with blood plum, beetroot, duck liver parfait and pistachio; or the slow-cooked Sher wagyu beef brisket.
My pick for sweets is the Arroz con leche –Spanish rice pudding– a delicious medley of cinnamon dulce de leche, mochi, verbena ice cream, apricot and puffed rice .
Kick back, relax and enjoy the food and the breathtaking views over the lake and Wombat State Forest beyond.
Conveniently positioned in the town’s center on Vincent Street, Larder has developed quite the following amongst brunch and coffee enthusiasts alike. Inspired by local produce, most of the menu is handmade or sourced from local businesses. The all-day breakfast menu features inventive classics like breakfast panna cotta, the Spanish baked eggs and the Bircher muesli. They also take their coffee very seriously, so it’s the place to come for a solid brew.
Larder have recently opened L1 next door, which is the perfect spot for a quieter breakfast or a takeway coffee and pastry on the fly.
Larder has a warm, friendly atmosphere which keeps locals and tourists coming back for more. There’s also a great selection of homemade gourmet goodies to take home or pack a picnic with.
If Japanese and French fusion food is more your thing, head to Kazuki’s at the Raglan. Born in Akita, chef and owner Kazuki Tsuya and his wife Saori combine their Japanese heritage to create a delicious gastro fusion.
Kazuki’s is effortlessly stylish, combining traditional Japanese décor with modern artwork, including beautiful ceramics by talented local artist Bridget Bodenham. The result is an elegant, earthy atmosphere which retains a sophisticated, yet relaxed environment for guests.
Expect twists on Japanese classics, like the Moreton Bay bug dumplings with sake emulsion, ponzu and rainbow chard or the beef tataki paired with pickles, puffed rice and horseradish. Tasting menus are available in three, five and seven course.
Another popular local haunt is Cliffy’s Emporium. A café, produce store and wine bar all in one, Cliffy’s boasts plenty of country hospitality and charm.
Cliffy’s has been a Daylesford icon since 1955 when it first opened as a corner store by Cliffy Hauser. It’s a charming space filled with eclectic furniture and cute décor and is one of the best places to eat in Daylesford, showcasing local and regional produce in all of its glory.
You can pop in for breakfast or lunch and enjoy a range of freshly made bagels, baguettes and salads. Don’t miss their signature hash browns made with aged cheddar and topped with bacon, free range eggs and chipotle hollandaise. Cliffy’s is also a deli, so you can take home a great range of gourmet goodies like cheese, charcuterie and a mouthwatering selection of cakes and pastries.
The café is licensed so you can enjoy a cheeky glass of local wine in the afternoon with one of their grazing platters filled with cured meats, cheese, pickled vegetables and freshly baked bread.
Wind up a busy day with a cocktail at Belevedere Social. The team take pride in offering a great cocktail list, spirits, beer and a wine selection that is designed to be best enjoyed in the current season and showcases the best of local producers.
The summer cocktail range includes “Cupids Kiss,” a refreshing concoction of strawberry, rose, vodka; and my personal favourite, the Minted Cherry Caipirnha with preserved cherry, brazilian cherry wood, cachaca and lime.
Belvedere Social is also open for lunch and dinner for hungry bar hoppers, offering a produce-driven modern Australian menu that champions artisan producers. The bartenders are more than happy to recommend a cocktail pairing for each course.
Perch at the front bar or retreat to the cosy courtyard on a balmy summer evening. You don’t want to miss this one.
Just down the road on Vincent Street, Wine and the Country is a wine shop and bar owned by husband and wife team Owen (local wine maker at Eastern Peake Winery) and Jen Latta. With over 400 producers featured, all of the wines have been carefully selected based on unique wineries both domestically and internationally, with both well and lesser known wine varieties available.
It’s also a great place to stop for a glass of wine at the bar and a platter of cheese, small goods and charcuterie. Just don’t forget to take a bottle home with you, too.
Eating out can be fun, but sometimes you want the restaurant to come to you so you don’t have to move an inch!
Rachel Daisy is one of the leading bespoke caterers in the Daylesford region, specialising in private events and personalised dinners. With a strong focus on local, ethical produce, Daisy Dining is all about home-cooking made with love, inspired by traditional and French cooking and influenced by Daisy’s “beautiful” mother.
Think Brooklands free-range beef with local ale and potatoes, lentil and mushroom pie and the most delicious pavlova you will ever taste.
Daisy works very closely with local suppliers to ensure the food is fresh and of the highest quality. Whether you’re looking for a simple dinner for one or catering for a more extravagant dinner party, she can customize a menu to suit your requirements.