Farm-fresh produce is a proud trademark of the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges area. Follow that rumble in your tummy straight to the source, where winemakers press grapes alongside suited-up beekeepers and cattle farmers tend to their herd next door to artisanal bakers. Those making a living off gastronomy in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges will tell you there's no place like it, and you can feel that same passion from farm gates to market stalls and hatted restaurants.
Season by season, Daylesford and its surrounds constantly yield an assortment of palate tempters: root vegetables in winter, sweet cherries in the summer, and so on. Whether you're a discerning diner on the hunt for your next 5-star experience or prefer to stock up and do-it-yourself at home, the townships scattered throughout Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges are sure to satiate your every craving.
Annie Smithers' Bistrot
72 Piper Street, Kyneton, Victoria 3444
The gold-rush village of Kyneton is perhaps the top spot for gung-ho foodies in the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region. Kyneton's Piper Street, lined with heritage facades and charming vintage boutiques, is mecca when it comes to fine feasting. Among the most acclaimed Piper Street instalments is Annie Smithers' Bistrot, specialising in fine French cuisine. Receiving a coveted one hat rating from The Age Good Food Guide for eight consecutive years, the ever-evolving menu at Annie Smithers' is based on produce proudly harvested from the kitchen garden or local farms.
Your dining choices may include an entree of beeroot cured salmon, followed by rare roasted local venison and finished with a warm quince and almond frangipane, capping off the evening by slowly sipping a glass of brandy or sampling a cheese platter served with shiraz and rosemary jam. Annie Smithers' is open for lunch and dinner Thursday through to Sunday from 12:00 and 18:00 respectively, and reservations are a must to secure your table at this awarded establishment.
The Farmers Arms
1 East Street, Daylesford, Victoria 3460
As they say, "when in Rome"! When you find yourself in the simple, straight-up, stress-free countryside of regional Victoria, follow the crowds to the Farmers Arms and do as the locals do. Don't let the rough-around-the-edges appearance fool you –The Farmers Arms, circa 1857, may be the oldest pub in Daylesford but its modern identity as a sophisticated gastropub is a pleasant surprise to unsuspecting patrons. Boasting the perfect blend of country charm with a cosmopolitan menu and wine list to boot, The Farmers Arms is a true blue pub experience with a twist.
Grab a seat at the bar, pull up a table, sidle into an intimate booth or head out to the beer garden to share a bowl of sweet potato chips with chilli remoulade, dumplings drizzled with sticky soy or a hearty meal of slow braised lamb shanks, accompanied by a pint or a glass of pinot. Open every day for lunch and dinner, don't worry about making a booking – we're all mates here.
RedBeard Historic Bakery
38 A High St, Trentham, Victoria 3458
Tucked in the township of Trentham between Daylesford and Woodend, the RedBeard Historic Bakery is about more than just bread. This isn't the kind of bakery where you want to grab your loaf and go – its inviting interior, viewing window and cosy cafe will make you think twice about what you pop into your toaster. RedBeard's handmade, organic sourdough is baked to perfection in a 19th century wood-fired oven and, if your holiday timetable allows, you can even join a Sunday hands-on workshop and mix, shape and bake your own!
Open 08:00 to 17:00 daily, there's plenty of time to settle in for a coffee, a leisurely breakfast or afternoon tea at the RedBeard Cafe as the comforting smell of baking bread encircles you. Cafe customers can also enjoy a free behind-the-scenes tour of the historic bakehouse, which produces biscuits, cakes, slices, muesli, jams and chutneys for sale at farmers' markets throughout Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges.
79 High St, Woodend, Victoria 3442
There's just something about a craft brew; that noticeable difference of a cold pint hand-pulled with care and consideration. While cold-climate wineries dominate the landscape of Victoria's central highlands, the Holgate Brewhouse is fiercly leading the charge for the microbrewing scene. Hosted in a historic hotel in the quaint village of Woodend, the Brewhouse boasts eight uniquely Holgate beers on tap available with lunch or dinner (or solo) from 12:00 'til late seven days a week.
The Holgate Brewhouse is an inclusive environment, even if you're not an ale aficionado. If you are, however, you have the option of sampling all of the house brews with a "tasting paddle" before committing to a schooner. Enhance the experience by using the beer and food matching guide on the restaurant menu to compliment dishes such as pipkin rabbit pie or malt smoked rainbow trout.
5451 Midland Highway, Mount Franklin, Victoria 3461
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a pilgrimage to the Chocolate Mill, just seven minutes north of Daylesford. Touted as a destination for "the serious chocoholic", the Mill's resident chocolatiers produce sweets from scratch using traditional European methods and ingredients just as nature intended. More than a tonne of fine Belgium-grade delights are sold exclusively on site every week at the charmingly rustic straw-bale Mill.
Open seven days from 10:00 to 16:30, the no-frills chocolate cafe offers devilish treats such as hazelnut-embedded blocks of dark chocolate, milk chocolate-dipped apricots, macadamia honey truffles and a wide range of vegan, lactose free, gluten free, kosher and halal options so no chocoholic has to miss out.
2349 Ballan Daylesford Road, Daylesford Victoria
Sault is a lavender farm, distillery and award-winning restaurant rolled into one postcard-perfect location. Like many restaurants in the Daylesford area, Sault's cuisine is centred on the local produce at its doorstep, including prime cuts of eye fillet and olives from groves just down the road. Specialising in both casual luncheons and candlelit dinners, Sault's constantly changing menu has been known to include the enticing pistachio and Matcha green tea financier with meringue and lime marshmallow, and a finely crafted wine list showcasing the best local drops.
Sault serves lunch and dinner every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 to 15:00 and 18:00 'til late, with a special locals evening on Wednesdays and dinner on Thursday nights. A sweet addition to Sault's offerings is high tea every Sunday from 14:30 to 16:30 – sit by the fire or dine al fresco on the veranda to take in the lakeside vistas.