As one of those vegetarian people who eats seafood and eggs, I'm always pleased to find a new haunt in the region that can offer a menu that shares the spotlight with local producers of fine goods.

Kyneton’s Home Grown on Piper is a favourite. With an all-day breakfast set to impress the weekend wanderer through to the youngest of food-loving humans, I mentally juggle between the coconut pancakes and the Greens Galore feast. Before I’m seated, my heart is set on a pot of chai as the beautiful fragrance wafts through the homely café. The brew is handcrafted in nearby Woodend by Anushka Chai and after the first sip, I’ve already set aside a batch from the shelf to take home for later!

I choose the Greens Galore Sri Lankan-inspired feast and discover that all the veggies come from chef and owner Gunilla’s Metcalfe Mini Farm. I’m filled with joy when the dish arrives, signalled by a mini clap.

Hopping and mini clapping around the region in search of carefully crafted seasonal produce is very easy, if not slightly overwhelming, given there is such a vibrant selection of delights to choose from and spaces in which to enjoy them.

I’m always falling head over heels for the menu at Wild in Castlemaine. Wild is a fancier affair – a spot to bring a date or a mate – with its beautiful décor and super friendly staff.

Set in the old fire station, Wild offers a sweet selection of broths, pickles and chutneys, or why not set aside an entire evening with a three-course meal where the vegetable plays the hero and a slug of wine the heroine?

For a more intimate affair, Hepburn’s The Surly Goat is the spot you seek. Hidden down a tiny street, the adored venue is tucked away from the tourist strip, offering diners a secret space to try the ‘prix fixe’ four-course menu of less than ten items. With a focus on local and small-scale producers, expect the best when it comes to seasonal goodies and sustainable edibles. You can almost taste the passion the kitchen puts into their daily changing menu.

Just down the road, Frank and Connie’s Kitchen screams the seasons. With an ever-changing menu that’s handwritten daily on the chalkboard, you can expect seasonal delights from betel leaves to crunchy fennel salads and the almighty homemade pita bread served with dips of the day and local olives. Be prepared to share and try a little of everything.

Whet the appetite, then wet the whistle. The Farmers Arms in Daylesford is the perfect place to do both with its house draught brewed locally. Pair a brew or a locally sourced wine with clever dishes ranging from seasonal snacks to sustainably sourced feasts from local organic farms. The Farmer’s menu meets all the criteria for a food-loving human. 

Not far away, the beautiful Victorian-era Daylesford Hotel stands proudly in the heart of town. Its first-rate, seasonal menu features fresh, local produce, pub classics and a great wine list. Their top floor balcony is arguably the best place in the region to sit and enjoy a sundowner. The view over Daylesford and the rolling hills is superb.

Experience seasonal produce at its very (local) best, grown and made with love across central Victoria.

About the author

Ali Webb House of Webb
Ali Webb, House of Webb

Kyneton-based Ali Webb adventures the state as a tiny tourist, exploring the littlest to the largest corners of our sweet slice of Victorian heaven.

A writer, a publicist, an artist manager and a downright good human being, Ali’s a curious cat, always on the hunt for a tale to share, especially if it involves digging for treasure in a local secondhand haven, scouring the seasonal delights of our favourite kitchens or simply finding a golden spot to pitch her tent after a day of bushwalking. Follow her tiny tourist tracks across the state at @houseofwebb.