Burgers and snags, salads, bread fresh from the oven, Coopers Pale on tap - Shannon Bennett's café-bakery in Victoria's Dandenong Ranges couldn't be more different from his flagship fine-diner, Vue de Monde. And that's just how he likes it.
"I want it to be the sort of place I'd go to on my day off," he says, wreathed in the smoke pouring from a 44-gallon drum barbecue outside The Piggery Café.
"It has to be a place to relax. Just wait until the brewery opens next door and the barefoot-bowling green is ready to go. That's my kind of relaxation."
The Piggery Café (it's in the property's restored stables and piggery) and adjoining Burnham Bakery are the first businesses to open as part of a grand plan for the 23-hectare Burnham Beeches property. Next up are a steakhouse and micro-brewery (in partnership with Tasmania's Moo Brew) and then Bennett and business partner Adam Garrison will turn the property's striking but neglected Art Deco mansion into a luxury hotel replete with a restaurant, spa, cinema and rooftop croquet lawn.
The Piggery is already attracting a crowd, with queues on weekends lining up for Blackmore wagyu burgers, croque-madames and Greenvale Farm BLTs, all served on white enamel plates, alongside a show-stopping lobster roll and an excellent merguez sausage hot dog in brioche with onions and house-made pickles.
There's also whole fish, barbecued to order, and house-made chips. Most of the vegetables used in The Piggery are grown on the property.
It's a relaxing place. From the well-heated communal tables outside by the bowling green, patrons have a lovely view up the hill to Bennett's 500-tree truffière, extensive fruit and vegetable gardens and the emu paddock (for the eggs).
Grab a loaf of sourdough and some pastries from baker Tim Beylie, give Bennett's trainee truffle dog MJ a scratch behind the ears on the way out and, you'll feel like you've really made a day of it.
The Piggery Café and Burnham Bakery, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke, Vic, (03) 9021 2100