Top 5 Country Victorian Restaurants
If you haven’t heard of Salvatore Malatesta then you’re either not from Melbourne or you don’t like coffee. He’s the owner of the St Ali Group, which includes St Ali, Sensory Lab, Plantation and My Mexican Cousin. We wanted to get his take on something not coffee… perhaps not even Melbourne, so he offered to share his top 5 country Victorian restaurants. We accepted.
Lake House| 4 King Street Daylesford | lakehouse.com.au/
Alla Wolf Tasker’s commitment to the industry and her status of matriarch of the Melbourne food and wine scene imbues every aspect of the venue, from the restaurant, the staff, the retreat. From the greeting at the door, to the wine list, the ambiance and the lake environment, the Lake House is of the very best international standards.
Stefano’s | 27 Deakin Avenue, Mildura | stefano.com.au
Stefano Di Pieri’s approach to authentic Italian cuisine is masterful and even now, as he’s appointed a new chef to take the reins, Stefano’s commitment to local produce, with a global outlook remains the same. Stefano’s robust, happy go lucky personality can be felt throughout the restaurant and the hotel, and it’s not to be missed.
Dispensary Enoteca | 9 Chancery Lane Bendigo | thedispensaryenoteca.com
Immaculate attention to detail filters throughout this local laneway venue. Tim Baxter and Hayden Winch took a major punt by bringing that city feeling to the country, in a reversal that still confounds people. I love the fact that they carry 50 boutique beers, 80 different Whiskys and a smacking cocktail list. It’s the regime of a control freak right down to the toilet door.
Wye River General Store | 5 Great Ocean Road, Wye River | wyerivergeneralstore.com.au
Here they bake their own bread that rivals D’Chirico in a Six Degrees fit-out with a crew who are all sun kissed and fun loving. This all comes through in the service. Wye River has a real locavore vibe, with open hearts that makes every diner want to adopt Wye River as their second home.
The General Food Store Emerald | 377 Belgrave-Gembrook Road Emerald | thegeneralfoodstore.com.au
I have a personal connection with the General Food Store in Emerald as chef and owner, Dougie, was the head chef at St ALi. We always talked about food and his childhood dream to be a cheesemaker. In Emerald, he’s brought a little inner city vibe to the hills, particularly with the coffee. The menu changes regularly and with the seasons and showcases Dougie’s talents. Did I mention the locals absolutely love it as well?