It's rare a pub meal leaves you thinking about carrots, yet Mapleton Public House defies the norm. Freshly plucked from Falls Farm just three kilometres away, the carrots journey from earth to plate within hours. They debut on a pretty-as-a-picture vegetable plate, showcasing raw baby golfball and purple carrots. Alongside other Falls Farm produce, like peppery watermelon radishes and tender yellow Boldor beetroots, the crudités cut through the richness of a pumpkin pâté, which sees the gourd transformed into an unctuous, swipeable paste.
Later, carrots reappear blanched with broccolini, alongside a golden frisbee of crumbed chicken and garlic butter. As crisp as the chook is, it's all about the creamed potato hidden below and the way it soaks up a terrific chicken gravy. It takes a pub classic of chicken schnitzel, and elevates it.
Elsewhere on the menu is a brilliant moules marinieres (French sailor-style mussels). The black mussels are doused in a velvety saffron and herb butter sauce, with grilled sourdough on hand to soak it all up.
The best way to experience the pub is with the set menu, which revolves around the morning's pick at Falls Farm. Broad bean leaves and sugar snap peas, for example, feature with salty house-cured prosciutto and a light pea mousse. The dish cuts through the richness of pork belly and mixed mushrooms, which are tossed in a glorious glaze.
Next, another clever rendition of a pub classic: corned beef. An eye of round wagyu is braised until it falls apart, coated with creamy mustard sauce and surrounded by baby vegetables. While comforting, it's outshone by a complex combination of sweet roasted carrots and spicy 'nduja, enhanced with a drizzle of smoked coconut cream.
In 2022, Falls Farm's Jessica Huddart and Ben Johnston bought the Mapleton Tavern, renaming it Mapleton Public House. They removed the pokies, hired a new executive chef, and gave the interior a small touch-up. Cameron Matthews, formerly group executive chef at Spicers Retreats, leads a young brigade. His dedication to sustainability shines through in regular pop-up dinners, and this ambition extends to the adept front-of-house team, who strike the perfect balance of professional and relaxed. It's the level of service you'd expect from a trendy inner-city restaurant, never mind a pub in the country.
Despite the pub's new-wave approach, it hasn't lost its 114-year-old charm. The old weatherboard building features a wrap-around deck with scenic views over the hinterland. Inside, it's full of character with dark timber, framed photos and an original fireplace. And at the bar, there's craft beers from Sunshine Coast breweries on-tap, alongside classics. A brilliant by-the-glass wine list ensures there's something attractive for all budgets, whether that's a $33 glass of Yangarra Roux Beaute Roussane or a $10 glass of Tscharke Shiraz.
In the realm of new-wave pubs sprouting across the country, Mapleton Public House stands out in the pack. While exceptional pub fare is abundant, few can rival the experience. Especially when it comes to the carrots.