Australia's Best Regional Restaurants, 15 Destinations All About Dining
Posted by Megan Osborne on Thursday, January 11, 2018
Regional restaurants have a lot to offer food lovers, particularly the adventurous traveller who seeks to discover what makes a location unique. Destination dining is becoming increasingly popular for those dedicated to sampling the best, freshest and local produce around Australia. If you count yourself amongst those committed to experiencing the best food a region has to offer, you’re going to want to read on.
Set in seclusion across the country, people travel far and wide to secure covers at these lauded restaurants. So there has to be accommodation nearby, right? Not to worry, because we’ve done the hard work for you; we’ve found where to stay, discovered beds for post-meal collapsing, and gauged ease of reach following a few wines. Ahead are the best regional restaurants from around Australia, and the ideal places to curl up after your indulgent courses.
1. Brae, Birregurra, VIC
Brae is THE mecca of destination dining. In an unassuming area of regional Victoria, the structure is an elegantly transformed farmhouse, and the surrounds are established veggie gardens flourishing with the ingredients that appear on your plate. This is one of just two Australian restaurants to earn a place in the 'World’s 50 Best', as well as being only one of five names to receive three hats in the Age Good Food Guide. Chef Dan Hunter takes exceptional care presenting the produce harvested on site, and sourced from local suppliers. Unique in celebrating combinations of flavours and creative twists to seasonal pairings, your meal will change depending on what’s ready to be picked. One dish that seems to be pretty permanent however—and for good reason—is the parsnip and apple pie dessert.
4285 Cape Otway Road
Where to stay in the Otways:
2. Harvest Newrybar, Newrybar Village, NSW
You’re in Byron. In Byron’s hinterland, no less. So as you’d expect, Harvest Café is all clean, green and earthy good, with not a single bad vibe in sight. The name alludes to what this place is famed for – colourful veg, freshly baked bread, and finely roasted coffee that all feature at this deli-café-bakery wunderkind. The wood-fired sourdough and mouth-watering pastries are produced in-house, and a good chunk of the ingredients come from the garden next door and an organic farm down the road. Tip: consume these scrumptious morsels on the verandah, alongside the glowing tans and saltwater-waved hair of the locals.
Photography credit: Harvest Newrybar
18-22 Old Pacific Highway
Newrybar Village, New South Wales
Where to stay in Byron Bay and Newrybar:
For a contemporary set menu of five or eight courses that’s sure to wow, put aside some time in your schedule for a visit to Geelong, to dine at its two-hatted restaurant, Igni. With a menu and beverage list that changes daily, Chef Aaron Turner (previously of Loam, The Age Good Food Guide’s Regional Restaurant of the Year in 2012) brings style and class to his experimentation with textures, flavours and origins. Push your boundaries with dishes such as a beetroot steak basted with goose fat and served with a comte-enriched whey, or a quinoa crisp ice cream sandwich dusted in seaweed powder.
Photography Credit: @restaurantigni on Instagram
Where to stay in Geelong and the Bellarine:
4. Doot Doot Doot, Merricks North, VIC
Mornington Peninsula’s shining star of luxury hotels spared no expense in creating a boutique getaway that will stick in your memory. Jackalope has curated its entire offering—from the mammoth sleek black sculpture in the piazza, to the alchemical bar Flaggerdoot, even through to the crystalised poolside spa—themed around the mythical jackrabbit with antlers, and the hatted fine diner Doot Doot Doot (which is incidentally, the name of a leader in a Jackalope pack) is no exception. A ceiling of golden bottles illuminates in an image of effervescence, setting off the slick dark interior. The menu directed by Guy Stanaway and executed by Martin Webster is delicate, thought out and hits the spot, while taking you through an exciting journey. The wine pairings are out of this world.
Where to stay in the Mornington Peninsula:
5. The Summertown Aristologist, Summertown, SA
With a focus on natural wines, The Summertown Aristologist is a relaxed bar and restaurant located in the Adelaide Hills. Tom Edwards (previously Magill Estate) carefully curates local produce in all its seasonal glory, perfectly complementing a list of 12 natural wines. This humble eatery showcases not only local food suppliers, but also glassware and crockery by local artisans.
Photography Credit: The Summertown Aristologist
The Summertown Aristologist
1097 Greenhill Road
Summertown, South Australia
Where to stay in the Adelaide Hills:
6. Du Fermier, Trentham, VIC
After bringing to acclaim Annie Smithers’ Bistrot in Kyneton, (now Source Dining) and sparking a revival for the area, Smithers now runs Du Fermier; a French farmhouse style kitchen located in Trentham. With limited spots available—Friday through to Mondays—and bookings essential, the seasonal set menu may be matched with thoughtfully selected wines from France and Victoria.
Photography Credit: Du Fermier
42 High Street
Where to stay in and near Trentham:
7. Provenance – Beechworth, VIC
The scenery of the High Country is alluring all year around, but it’s not just the vistas that draw crowds along the Great Alpine Road. Food and wine are big drawcards, and alongside King Valley and Rutherglen, Beechworth has quite a name for the gourmet.
At Beechworth’s Provenance, discover a cosily romantic dining room ferrying out food artistry that brings together the cuisines of Asia and Europe. Behind this labour of love are two skilled makers – Chef Michael Ryan, and his winemaker wife Jeanette Henderson. Be prepared for ingenious ingredient pairings, impeccable service, and an excellent drinks list that includes an exclusive selection of sake.
Photography Credit: Roberto Seba for Visit Victoria
86 Ford Street
Where to stay in the High Country:
8. Hentley Farm Restaurant, Seppeltsfield, SA
Born and bred in the Barossa, chef Lachlan Colwill’s knowledge of, and passion for, regional produce shows in the plates that he dreams up. And dreamy they are – with an element of earthiness, a respect for the vineyard’s wines, and a creative interpretation of ingredients found on each and every menu. The degustations are designed to complement the estate’s range (should you choose a wine-matching, and we’d advise you do). Cutely titled, the four-course option is ‘du Jour’ and the eight-course a ‘Discovery’.
Photography Credit: @paperblade on Instagram
Corner of Gerald Roberts Road and Jenke Roads
Seppeltsfield, South Australia
Where to stay in the Barossa Valley?
9. The Lake House, Daylesford, VIC
The Lake House Restaurant is a regional classic – and everyone knows the classics can’t be left off your ‘must-try’ list, because these are the rare creatures that have stood the test of time. Alla Wolf-Tasker championed locally grown, speciality produce long before it was in vogue, and she and her culinary prowess is largely responsible for putting Daylesford on the epicurean map. The setting is light-filled and elegant, the food displays a wonderful sense of place, and the wine-list is lengthy enough to appeal to even the fussiest connoisseur.
Photograpy Credit: The Lake House
The Lake House
4 King Street
Where to stay in Daylesford:
10. Nu Nu Restaurant, Palm Cove, QLD
Nu Nu is the only absolute beachfront eatery in Palm Cove – and that’s certainly not its only coup. This acclaimed dining room will have you digging into freshly caught seafood and tasty local produce in inspired Asian-styles; all while soaking up the stunning oceanic scenery stretched out before you. Chef Nick Holloway previously headed up Pearl Melbourne, and his menu is served alongside those aquamarine views with urbane flair. The dishes here, without a doubt, will leave you wanting for more.
Photography Credit: Nu Nu Restaurant
Nu Nu Restaurant
1 Veivers Road
Palm Cove, Queensland
Where to stay in Palm Cove:
11. Harrisons by Spencer Patrick, Port Douglas, QLD
There couldn't be a more ideal Port Douglas setting than the historic, verandah-wrapped Queenslander that holds Harrisons. Stepping through lush gardens and mango trees only adds to that tropical, far-north Queensland feel. But the cuisine is quite a different story to the one portrayed in the architecture and surrounds. Chef Spencer Patrick is a French-trained, Brit-food enthusiast, and you can expect to find fresher, lighter takes on this classically heavy fare using locally caught and grown ingredients.
Photography Credit: @harrisonspd on Instagram
Harrisons by Spencer Patrick
Sheraton Grand Mirage Port Douglas, Port Douglas Road
Port Douglas, Queensland
Where to stay in Port Douglas:
12. Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, VIC
When it comes to the gourmet getaway, this place is an institution. Located in the southern part of the Grampians National Park, the multi-award winning Dining Room at the Royal Mail Hotel boasts a tasting menu centred about locally sourced produce led by Chef Robin Wickens. For the oenophiles there is an extensive and eclectic wine list—pulled from a boast-worthy cellar—and beyond beautiful views. After working your way through five- to eight-courses, you’ll be glad your luxury room is walking distance away.
Photography Credit: Royal Mail Hotel
The Royal Mail
98 Parker Street
Where to stay in Dunkeld:
13. Peppermint Bay, Woodbridge, TAS
Tassie has the cleanest air on earth, huge stretches of unspoiled land, and boutique producers aplenty, so it’s no surprise their produce is some of the best around. David Moyle – head chef at Peppermint Bay and Franklin, in Hobart – certainly saw the opportunity in jumping from Byron Bay to this more southerly bay. Set on four acres of waterfront headland, the diner is able to source much of what it needs from the onsite gardens. For the rest, the kitchen partners with local farmers, anglers and artisans to create dishes that speak of the area and the changing seasons.
Photography Credit: Peppermint Bay
3435 Channel Highway
Where to stay in Southern Tasmania
14. Vasse Felix, Margaret River, WA
Margaret River is a hub for wineries and the gourmet, and Vasse Felix has an abundance of both. The hatted restaurant creates stunning dishes that reflect the region and complement the wine collection. Head Chef Brendan Pratt (previously The Fat Duck, and The Ledbury) is originally Perth-born, and champions the local produce Margaret River has to offer.
Photography Credit: Vasse Felix Facebook
Caves Road and Tom Cullity Drive
Margaret River, Western Australia
Where to stay in Margaret River:
15. Muse Restaurant, Pokolbin, NSW
Where there is great wine, you’re almost guaranteed great dining too. The Hunter Valley in NSW is a destination for wining and dining, and one of the most exciting restaurants in the region is Muse Restaurant at Hungerford Hill Winery. With two hats this Pokolbin diner is a contemporary affair, pioneered by husband and wife team Megan and Troy Rhoades-Brown. Sample flavours such as wood-fired quail with salt baked kohlrabi, or Sebago potato with black lip abalone, cured yolk, mushroom and chicken soy broth.
You may enjoy your dining experience so much that you head to sister restaurant—another among some of the best restaurants in the Hunter Valley—Muse Kitchen at Keith Tulloch Winery.
Photography Credit: Muse Dining Facebook
Hungerford Hill Winery, Broke Road
Pokolbin, New South Wales