Culture

Best dining experiences in regional Australia

When it comes to unique eats in faraway places, Australia has got all the bases covered. Here are a few of our favourite dining experiences worth the trip.
Penfolds Magill Estate

When it comes to unique eats in faraway places, Australia has got all the bases covered. Here are a few of our favourite dining experiences worth the trip.

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Brae

Brae

Smartly renovated farmhouse digs? Tick. Kitchen garden? Check. Sophisticated cooking worth the one-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne? You bet. Look at the big picture and it’s easy to see why Brae, Dan Hunter’s Birregura fine-diner, took out the title of Best Regional Restaurant in our 2015 Australian Restaurant Guide Awards.

Saffire Freycinet

Saffire Freycinet

It mustn’t be easy competing with the striking natural beauty of Freycinet, Tasmania but Hugh Whitehouse and Simon Pockran’s cooking at Saffire does a pretty good job. They take pristine Tasmanian produce and allow it to shine through in simple dishes such as seared wallaby with beetroots, and pan-fried flounder with wasabi butter. You have to be a guest at the resort for a taste, though – not that that’s a bad prospect in itself.

Cottage Point Inn

Cottage Point Inn

Just outside Sydney, on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, sits Cottage Point Inn: a restaurant serving some of the region’s most exciting food (warm ratatouille salad with vegetables slow-roasted in salted butter, say, or wagyu rump cap with shaved foie gras, marinated brown mushrooms, roast onion, lemon purée and blackberries, perhaps) with surrounds to make you instantly forget you’re only an hour out of town.

Lake House

Lake House

Alla Wolf-Tasker’s Lake House, in Daylesford, Victoria, has been a regional dining trailblazer for over 30 years. The service is sharp, the space bright and breezy, and the food – crafted with care by Wolf-Tasker using ingredients sourced from nearby organic farms – is fresh and innovative.

Tomah Gardens

Tomah Gardens

Sean Moran’s sunny cooking has ventured to western New South Wales – and we can assure you that it tastes just as good surrounded by Mount Tomah’s lush botanical gardens as it does at his Bondi beach flagship. Here, he delivers the likes of corn-fed roast chook, dill-cured rainbow trout, and angel cake with apricot jam, keeping with the produce-driven philosophy that makes his food so easy to enjoy.

The Fish House

The Fish House

Burleigh Heads, Queensland’s Fish House is a place for fish-lovers where the food is king and the ocean views come as a bonus. The seafood – be it Sydney rock oysters, Queensland yabbies or South Australian octopus – is sublimely fresh, the fish and chips are most definitely on point, and dishes such as a simple lemony fish soup are uncomplicated but totally satisfying.

Fino

Fino

Prime seasonal ingredients take center stage at this South Australian regional favourite. Woodside buffalo curd shines bright when served with beetroot and walnuts, Tobalong tomatoes are matched with green olives and Hindmarsh Valley goat’s milk ricotta, and wagyu from Mayura Station is crafted into pastrami then served with pickled cauliflower and sprouted rye. A worthy flavour-driven adventure.

Cape Lodge

Cape Lodge

The serene lakeside dining room at Cape Lodge is the top spot for a grand night out in the Margaret River region. The European-accented food spans from the simple (house-grown beets with local chevré and hazelnuts) to the more adorned (White Rocks veal with Jerusalem artichokes, spinach, prawn and a whiskey jus). The blockbuster wine list also offers a drop for every occasion.

Provenance

Provenance

At Provenance in Beechworth, Victoria, Michael Ryan executes his dishes with the finest locally sourced ingredients he can get his hands on – and boy, does he know how to make them shine. Combine his progressive cooking (don’t miss the anchovy with its fried bones) with the grand old dining room and leafy countryside surrounds and you’ve got a winner.

Penfolds Magill Estate

Penfolds Magill Estate

Okay, Penfolds Magill Estate might only be eight kilometres out of Adelaide, but it’s a worthy 15-minute drive to the outskirts of town. Chefs Emma McCaskill and Scott Huggins (our Best New Talent winners in our 2015 Restaurant Guide Awards) pump out a menu of fresh, innovative modern Australian dishes, in a sharp room from Melbourne designer Pascale Gomes-McNabb.

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