From garden to plate: 18 regional kitchen gardens

Royal Mail Hotel Kitchen Garden

Royal Mail Hotel Kitchen Garden

With a growing awareness of the origin of our food, Victoria’s café and restaurant owners and chefs are seeking to source produce from as close to the kitchen as possible. In a bid to create the freshest, most flavoursome fare, reduce their carbon footprint and give back to the environment, many are choosing to plant a kitchen garden from which to gather vegetables and herbs, ensuring only the freshest ingredients go into creating their cuisine. From lofty mounts to coastal plains, here is where to find them:

Geelong and the Bellarine 

Basils Farm
Sitting in prime position, Basils’ kitchen garden forms the backdrop between the café and the ocean views of Swan Bay and Queenscliff. Its organically-grown heirloom vegetables, herbs, stone fruits, apples, pears, quinces, figs, persimmons, almonds, citrus and a variety of berries are harvested daily for use in the café, and as such the menu changes with the seasons. The recent addition of chickens will provide fresh eggs and help maintain healthy soils, while indigenous plants attract insects and bees to help maintain a healthy ecosystem. 43-53 Nye Road, Swan Bay, +61 3 5258 4280

Little Green Corner
It is all about sustainability at Little Green Corner, where the owners forage, gather and grow. The menu is brief and changes depending on what’s in season in the region’s gardens and farms. Produce is sourced from a kitchen garden just 20 metres from the café’s front door, a nearby farm, as well as from local farmers, growers and customers, who donate their produce in exchange for coffee. 42 Little Ryrie Street, Geelong, +61 3 5273 0229

Merne at Lighthouse
The newest food and wine destination on the Bellarine, Merne at Lighthouse is the latest venture from the owners of Gladioli in Inverleigh and Tulip in Geelong. Its garden beds grow an array of vegetables including radishes, carrots, beets, parsley, pineapple sage, ginger mint, lemon verbena, broccoli and mizuna which are used to create the restaurant’s ‘specials’. Quinces, apples and lemons are harvested from its orchard and used in desserts, while homegrown cumquats are a key component of the slow-cooked pork. 650 Andersons Road, Drysdale, +61 3 5251 5541

Mornington Peninsula 

Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove
Among the rambling rural outlook of vines, olive groves, sculpture, lakes and wetlands lies Montalto’s kitchen garden. The team here have a philosophy that if something that can be grown and used on site, then it will. That means everything from produce used in the dishes in the restaurant or piazza to the ingredients in their pantry range are sourced on-site where possible. The kitchen garden also provides a picturesque setting amongst which to enjoy a meal al fresco, and add to the already stunning view enjoyed from the restaurant. 33 Shoreham Road, Red Hill South, +61 3 5989 8412

Heronswood
The gardens of Heronswood are famous for the extensive plantings of flowers, including perennial borders, dry climate and cottage, annual gardens, and are an attraction in their own right. But it is the integration of vegetables and flowers with fruits and herbs in the five separate vegetable gardens that make this the ultimate kitchen garden. Tended using traditional growing techniques, the team has sourced the best heirloom vegetables from across the globe and won’t compromise on quality. The carefully grown produce all ends up on the menu at Heronswood Café. 105 LaTrobe Parade, Dromana, +61 3 5984 7321

High Country

Samaria Farm Café
A rose farm producing high quality essential oils, Samaria Farm now has a café with an ever-changing menu utilising the fresh produce from the farm’s orchard and garden. The delectable bites can be enjoyed each weekend, overlooking the valley and the property’s thousands of Damask roses. Accommodation in a two-bedroom self-contained cabin, farm tours and essential oil workshops are also available. 2520 Samaria Road, Samaria, +61 3 5768 2225

Feathertop Winery
The garden at Feathertop Winery’s Alfresco Dining Restaurant is currently yielding Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb and rosemary. In summer it overflows with zucchinis, tomatoes, pumpkins, beetroot, herbs, heirloom carrots and horseradish to name a few. These ingredients are combined with other local produce to create modern Australian fare that is served overlooking Mt Buffalo and the winery’s surrounding vineyards. 6619 Great Alpine Road, Porepunkah, +61 3 5756 2356

Great Ocean Road

Merrijig Kitchen & Inn
Port Fairy’s Merrijig Inn is surrounded by a garden full of vegetables and herbs, with chickens roaming around the yard. The 
daily menu evolves throughout the season, inspired by ‘what’s good’ on the day. It is based on produce from the kitchen garden as well as highlighting other local artisan producers and farmers. Situated across from Port Fairy’s historic wharf area, it is the perfect spot to visit for a homegrown meal. 1 Campbell Street, Port Fairy, +61 3 5568 2324

Bespoke Harvest
Bespoke Harvest in Forrest captures the flavour of the Otways with seasonal produce from its own kitchen garden and surrounding farms. The focus is on locally sourced ingredients, and head chef Simon Stewart invites visitors to learn about the growers and producers who enable him to create organic and wholesome cuisine. The set menu starts with freshly baked bread and local olive oil, followed by a selection of dishes designed to share. 16 Grant Street, Forrest, +61 3 5236 6446

Brae
One of Australia’s most highly awarded regional dining establishments, Brae sits at number 44 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It is set on a hillside on a 30 acre organic farm where regenerative farming techniques are used to restore the land. Organic principles are employed to produce seasonal vegetables, fruit, nuts and berries; a grove of more than 100 trees yields olives for organic extra virgin oil; resident chickens supply free range eggs; and bees produce honey and assist with pollination. The ever-changing set menu incorporates all this, as well as select produce from local farmers. 4285 Cape Otway Road, Birregurra, +61 3 5236 2226

The Grampians

Royal Mail Hotel
Home to the largest garden servicing a restaurant in Australia, Royal Mail Hotel sources up to 80% of the produce served its restaurant on-site. The main plot is 1.2 hectares, supported by other productive spaces including an olive grove, stone fruit orchard, citrus grove, truffle grove and a glass hot house for micro greens and propagating. Guests are invited to tour the garden at 11am daily, or simply enjoy the fruits of it all in the restaurant. 98 Parker Street, Dunkeld, +61 3 5577 2241

Gippsland

Tamsin’s Table
Set on a working farm in the hills of Gippsland, Tamsin’s Table hosts lunches and workshops using meat and produce grown and gathered on the farm and in its rambling kitchen garden. The cooking workshops invite participants to get down to earth, harvesting and preparing ingredients to cook just minutes later. All the ingredients used in the restaurant are homegrown and menus change from day to day. 2255 Main South Road, Poowong East, +61 422 976 540

Vue at Jindivick
Vue at Jindivick is an eco bed and breakfast set on 36 acres just over an hours drive from Melbourne. Guests are served a healthy breakfast prepared with local and where possible organic produce, with seasonal fruit and vegetables harvested from Vue’s chemically free garden. 130 Stoll Road, Jindivick, +61 409 589 416 

Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges

Wombat Hill House
The most recent venture from the team behind the highly acclaimed Lake House, Wombat Hill House is located within Wombat Hill Gardens on a hilltop behind the town of Daylesford. The café offers simple seasonal food, sourced locally wherever possible and a newly planted kitchen garden will soon supplement the café’s needs with fresh herbs, salad leaves, vegetables and fruit. Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, Scenic Drive, +61 3 4373 0099

Pitruzzello Restaurant & Café
Authentic Italian cuisine is served amid rolling hills at Pitruzzello Restaurant, just 45 minutes from Melbourne. Dishes are prepared using fresh, seasonal produce, sourced from Pitruzzello’s own expansive herb and vegetable garden, and fruit and olive trees. 25 Deverall Road, Sunbury, +61 3 5428 3055

du Fermier
Located in the heart of Trentham, a true country gem, du Fermier takes its inspiration from classic French farmhouse cooking. Each weekend chef Annie Smithers lovingly creates a menu that features ingredients harvested from the garden and some of the finest meats and poultry from the surrounding region. 42 High Street, Trentham, +61 3 5424 1634

Bendigo

Bresse
This vineyard, cidery and sustainable farming enterprise in Harcourt is home to a restaurant (The ‘Bresstaurant’) with an osteria style of dining. Open for lunch from spring to autumn, the fare is created using produce from the kitchen garden and other local producers (with some imported from Italy). A set menu for an afternoon graze, coupled with a complimentary Gold Chook tasting and personal tour of the property is $45 per person. 3894 Calder Highway (Harmony Way), Harcourt, +61 3 5474 2262

Spring Gully General Store
Housed in a century-old building that was once a general store, Spring Gully is now a hotspot for breakfast, brunch and coffee. Instagram-worthy dishes, such as ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb, banana and waffles with boysenberry ice-cream and smashed meringue comprise the all-day breakfast menu and for lunch, there’s a combination of vegetarian dishes, pizzas, paninis and more. Where possible, the produce is sourced from its own kitchen garden and other local, sustainable producers. 134 Spring Gully Road, Spring Gully, +61 3 5442 2358 

You can republish the text of this article online or in print for free with attribution. You just have to credit us by linking to us at http://www.visitvictoria.com if in Australia or http://www.visitmelbourne.com if elsewhere. Full licence details.