Daring garden-based cuisine at Brae.
Daring garden-based cuisine at Brae. Photo: Supplied

4285 Cape Otway Road Birregurra, Victoria 3242

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Opening hours Mon 12–5pm ; Thu 6–11pm ; Fri-Sat 12–11pm ; Sun 12–5pm
Features Bar, Accepts bookings, Accommodation, Degustation, Gluten-free options, Green-eco focus, Groups, Licensed, Long lunch, Romance-first date, Vegetarian friendly, Views, Wheelchair access
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Chef Dan Hunter
Seats 50
Payments eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard
Phone (03) 5236 2226

Dan Hunter leaving Dunkeld's Royal Mail was a matter of 'when', not 'if', and in the former Sunnybrae, a rambling farmhouse set in hectares of garden, he's found the perfect place to replicate its bucolic spirit.

The town of Birregurra, like Dunkeld before it, now stars on the foodie map, with culinary tourists drawn to Hunter’s daring garden-based cuisine.

It's thrilling stuff but there's blessedly little pomp, with cutlery-free starters such as beef tendon crisps dusted with pepperberry. Indigenous ingredients are used widely - lemon myrtle adds pizazz to confit calamari with pickled baby turnips washed in daikon, cucumber and fennel juice; finger lime cells pop over braised wagyu short rib with shiitakes, lime and rock samphire.

And a dessert of fried parsnip skin with apple and parsnip mousse is a revelation. Backed by an international wine list with a strong local spine and a service team almost as starry-eyed about the Brae mission as the diners, a new gastrotemple is born.

And … Staying in town? Some local accommodation provides transfers.
Your architect's country house meets gastrotemple.
Best bit: Food, service, location.
Worst bit: Tricky logistics.