42 High Street Trentham, Victoria 3458(03) 5424 1634
|Opening hours||B L Sat-Sun; D Fri-Sat|
|Features||Accepts bookings, Licensed, Long lunch, Open fire|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
WHERE AND WHAT
Annie Smithers has been one of the main drivers behind central Victoria's food culture since opening her eponymous Kyneton "bistrot" in 2005, and the addition of du Fermier in nearby Trentham provides a suitable bookend. Part cafe, part produce store, it shares the older sibling's rustic, regional and seasonal approach to a hearty menu with oodles of charm.
WHERE TO SIT
Du Fermier slots easily into the deshabille character of main street Trentham's 19th-century shopfronts and lack of pretence. Camouflaged in the streetscape behind a swinging wire door, it's a simple wood-dominated space, with jars of Smithers' own jams and preserves for sale, plus crockery and tchotchkes and a spectacular line in designer garden tools (as befitting the owner of a magnificent kitchen garden in Malmsbury and the author of the recently released Annie's Garden to Table). Decoration is provided by an august collection of goats and cats painted as dignified noblemen.
WHEN TO GO
Thursday 10am-5pm; Friday and Saturday 10am-10pm; Sunday 10am-5pm.
A very short wine list has five options - two whites, two reds and a sparkling, all by the glass.
Smithers' food eschews the bells and whistles of showoff cooking for the convincing beauty of great produce handled with respect, and while it's important to remember du Fermier is a cafe rather than restaurant (chef Daniel Melbourne is in charge of the kitchen), the same principles apply. Produce from the Malmsbury garden goes into breakfasts of herb and gruyere omelet with sourdough, or grilled asparagus with soft-poached egg. The lunch menu features a braised lamb shoulder pie that's a golden-lidded vision of loveliness containing the fall-apart meat with the sweetness of celery and carrot, surrounded by a moat of tarragon jus punctuated by the season's new broad beans. Orecchiette gets the classic Italian treatment of broccoli, anchovies and chilli in a garlicky oil base; a barra fillet saddles up with potato mash and a hearty braise of lettuce, peas and bacon. Four desserts - excluding a collection of baked goods on the counter including Paris-Brest and flourless orange and almond cake - include Valrhona chocolate
mousse that's velvety and richly indulgent.
A sizeable proportion of diners has made the day trip from Melbourne, and locals natter all manner of Trentham gossip with the front-of-house staff.
Du Fermier proves country hospitality and value aren't concepts of fiction.