Annie Smithers Bistrot – Warm, Stylish Country Bistro

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N and I headed into Kyneton for lunch on a cold and rainy Sunday for lunch. Kyneton is located about an hour from Melbourne and is a quaint little country town. It is known for being a country town with good food with many establishments being recognised in the Age Good Food Guide, as well as having many cafes that have been listed in the Cheap Eats Guide. Kyneton has many bluestone buildings that are the main feature of the town that date back to the Gold Rush era, where Kyneton was a major supply town for diggings. For lunch we were going to Annie Smithers Bistrot and I was thoroughly looking forward to it.

Annie Smithers Bistrot is located in a historic bluestone building on Piper Street which now known as one of the most popular eating precincts in the state. Annie Smithers Bistro was recently bought by Tim Foster and his wife Michelle. Tim was the head chef at the Healesville Hotel in Yarra Valley. Annie Smithers herself will instead be focussing on her other restaurant – Du Fermier (located in Trentham, and a place I really want to try – it is next on my list!), her gardens as well as putting out a second book.

Annie Smithers instilled a farm to plate philosophy (which is also instilled at her Du Fermier restaurant) – which means that almost 90% of the produce supplied to the bistro is from the properties gardens and adjacent farmhouse. You can be sure that you are getting a fantastic meal with that type of philosophy. The venue itself is quite stunning – set in an old bluestone building with exposed brick on the inside coupled with high ceilings in both of its rooms and fitted out with modern wooden comfortable furniture. There are also beige leather cushion like seats along the walls. A huge arch shaped window in the main dining area allows lighting to stream in from the outside, further adding to the warmth and charm.

We were given our menus once seated at our table. On this Sunday the restaurant was not quite at full-house and there were three wait staff. One small glitch for the whole day was that it took me twice to gesture to someone for them to come over to give us water and take our orders. This tainted our experience a tad bit, however from then onwards it was smooth sailing. We placed our orders (we got an entree and a main each  – yep we were a bit hungry) and were given a choice between two house made breads – olive sourdough and normal sourdough. We both picked Olive Sourdough and it was delicious, fresh and warm! It also had the perfect crunch on the outside -yum!

For entrees there was Grilled Par Boned Quail, Braised Organic French Style Lentils, Istra Chorizo, Cauliflower Fitter, Holy Goat Fromage Frais, Chervil and the Twice Baked Mushroom and Taleggio Souffle, Mizuna, Nashi Pear & Walnut Salad, Walnut Oil. The Mushroom Souffle was beautifully presented and looked like a little nest amongst the leaves – which was made out of salad. The Mushroom Souffle with Taleggio was scumptious – from the mushrooms to the cheese paired together with the sweetness of the Nashi Pear and the texture and nuttiness of the walnuts – it was all fantastic. I haven’t eaten anything like this before, and feedback from other patrons was to the same tune – they all loved this dish. N enjoyed his quail dish as well, and said the mix of the cauliflower fritter and lentils together brought together some great flavours and textures to the perfectly cooked tender quail. The cheese added a smooth texture together with a tangy yoghurt taste.

Next up was mains – Ricotta & Herb Gnocchi, Australian Heirloom Pumpkin, Cavolo Nero, Truffled Pecorino, Crumbed Hen’s Egg, Herb & Fennel Salad and Brined and Grilled Loin, Baked Spartan Apple, Jerusalem Artichoke, Braised Cabbage, Fennel & Seeds, Cider Jus. With the mains you are given a side of vegetables which is the choice of the kitchen, we got Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Butter and Salt. Can I just start off by saying I am not a fan of Brussels Sprouts, but these were delicious – the flavours were simple and easy but tasted fantastic! I might just become a Brussels Sprouts convert. Both the main dishes once again came out beautifully presented as expected. The Ricotta & Herb Gnocchi was freshly made and was soft and squishy, with a semi-hardness to it on the outside – just what you would want in a gnocchi. They were off-shaped but that’s what added to the homeliness of the dish and had the perfect amount of herb seasoning. The Crumbed Hen’s Egg was in the middle of the dish and was a crumbed and crunchy. This is something of what you would expect on a brunch menu, but together with the gnocchi and the veggies it worked. The egg was gooey and runny on the inside and when you mixed it with the a piece of gnocchi, pumpkin, some fennel and cavolo nero and some gratings of truffled pecorino it was a delicious mix for your tastebuds. It should also be noted that is quite a filling dish!

Eventhough I was pretty full from the entrée and the main meals – of course I had to get something from the dessert menu (besides it was pouring with rain outside and it was cosy and warm at the bistro =p). I decided to get the Soft Centered Dark Chocolate Pudding, Honey Cream, Praline, Honeycomb & Hazelnut Ice Cream. The dish came out with the Chocolate Pudding, Ice Cream and Honey Cream in a glass to pour over the pudding. I knew from just looking at how good it would be! Before I could do anything I cut the Chocolate Pudding and let the warm chocolate ooze out, and ooze out it did! Perfect. The combination of the honey cream and the chocolate was delicious. Another highlight was the Honeycomb and Hazelnut Ice Cream. The Honeycomb was sugary, rich and crispy and together with the walnut and ice cream was so yum! Even N who doesn’t like sweet things much – ate most of the ice cream. You really do have to try it!

Another little sweetener is that you are offered a selection of their home made petit fours. On this day we had a selection of a Rose Meringue, White Chocolate Fudge and an Almond Biscoti (we got to sample all of them =p). They were bite sized portions of sweet heaven!

Annie Smithers Bistrot is a charming little place with some of the freshest and tastiest food I have had. The service is friendly and staff always have a smile on their face and will happily have a long conversation with you and answer any question. Annie Smithers is definitely worth the drive up to check the place out. The town itself is quite cute and you can definitely spend a whole day here.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – The menu tends to change daily – refer to http://www.anniesmithers.com.au/uploads/files/ASA%20Menu%20main%2023%20May%202013.pdf for the Lunch / Dinner Menu and http://www.anniesmithers.com.au/uploads/files/ASA%20Menu%20Dessert%2023%20May%202013.pdf for the Dessert Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Warm and Welcoming. Great for a day trip and for great food.
Standout Dish: Twice Baked Mushroom and Taleggio Souffle, Mizuna, Nashi Pear & Walnut Salad, Walnut Oil
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Warm – always helpful and interactive
Online Booking: No, only phone reservations are taken – NOTE: To avoid disappointment, try to allow at least 3-4 weeks in advance as weekend services book out well in advance.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.anniesmithers.com.au/home
72 Piper St, Kyneton
Tel No: 03 5422 2039

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Friday to Sunday: 12pm – 4:00pm
Dinner
Thursday to Sunday: 6pm – 11pm

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Operator25 – Hidden Treasure

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House Cured Ocean Trout, Poached Egg, Crunchy Shaved Asparagus and Horseradish Cream on MuffinsHouse Cured Ocean Trout, Poached Egg, Crunchy Shaved Asparagus and Horseradish Cream on Muffins

Pan Roasted Trout on a Bed of Cauliflower Cream and Beetroot CrispsPan Roasted Trout on a Bed of Cauliflower Cream and Beetroot Crisps
Operator25 is newly opened cafe that is located off the bustling LaTrobe St in the Melbourne CBD. It located between Flagstaff Gardens and Melbourne Central shopping centre. This cafe gets its name from the building that it is housed in – it was Melbourne’s very first switchboard back in the 19th century. This building is heritage listed.
The venue is modern with high ceilings and has differently sized tables – a higher table where you can still on stools or the normal height tables. The staff are friendly and welcoming and always have a smile on their face. They are courteous and warm as well – just what you want when you are hungry.
H and I went here for lunch during the working week on a really gloomy and rainy day in Melbourne. Operator25 serves all day breakfast and I was tempted by the breakfast menu however I decided to go with a pick from the Lunch menu and got Pan Roasted Trout on a Bed of Cauliflower Cream and Beetroot Crisps. H did order from the breakfast menu and got House Cured Ocean Trout, Poached Egg, Crunchy Shaved Asparagus and Horseradish Cream on Muffins. The menu is modern Australian with the usual favourites for breakfast with the additional changes to certain dishes and the lunch menu is similar too. Lunch menu selections includes two burgers to select from, as well as duck ragu or lemongrass chicken with quinoa just to name a few. There is a dish for everyone. Even the little kiddies – there is a Little Operator Menu for them.
The dishes are presented in an elegant and beautiful manner- with the two dishes we got being in layers. My fish was cooked perfectly and the cauliflower cream was smooth and creamy – just the right consistency. The beetroot crisps were interesting and were a bit too sour tasting for me,but it was an interesting addition. There is a wedge of lemon if you need it, however I think the dish was seasoned enough to not need it. The dish also came with two pieces of bread – I didn’t really think this was needed, and I didn’t end up finishing my bread off. H said his dish was good as well and the horseradish cream was especially good and fresh. The addition of the shaved asparagus is something you don’t usually see in many dishes.

Operator25 is great place for lunch and is somewhere I want to come to try breakkie out. The french toast sounds delicious!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast (all day) – Early Operator, Lunch – Noon Operator and a Children’s Menu – Little Operator
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Inviting
Service: Friendly, Welcoming and Warm
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
25 Wills St, Melbourne
Tel No: 9670 3278

Opening Hours
Mon – Fri: 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sat – Sun: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

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Duchess of Spotswood – One of a Kind



Prince of Wales: House Smoked Salmon Fillet with Potato Pancake, Poached Egg and Sourdough Toast
Royal Fanfare: Salt cured Trumpeter with Spicy Lamb Sausage, Home made Chutney and Crumbed Poached Egg

Duchess of Spotswood is a gourmet cafe which sources high quality produce and delivers it on the plate in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The flavours are simple yet have a gourmet, modern feel to them. At this cafe – you dont get your usual breakfast dishes of eggs and tomato with a side of avocado for example, you get a variety. Duchess of Spotswood chef Andrew Gale states “People are expecting more and more when they go out for breakfast,” and this why the Duchess of Spotswood menu is the way it is – it is not your normal breakfast menu (http://www.duchessofspotswood.com.au/themenu.php).

Duchess of Spotswood also offers Lunch and Dinner (on Thursday to Saturday evenings) – which consists of a 3 course menu for $55. I definitely want to go back and try out the dinner degustation menu. When you visit their website you can see pictures of the dishes – which is enough to make you want to make the trip over the West Gate bridge to Spotswood no matter where in Melbourne you live.

Rating :
3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast (till 11:45am), Lunch and Dinner (3 courses for $55) – http://www.duchessofspotswood.com.au/themenu.php
Fullness: 80%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Rustic and Charming.
Standout Dish: House Smoked Salmon
Service: Good Service, but not great.
Online Booking: No – They take reservations for dinner Thursday to Saturday. Weekend breakfast and lunch on a strictly walk-in basis.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.duchessofspotswood.com.au/index.php
87 Hudsons Road, Spotswood
Tel No: 9391 6016

Opening Hours:
Breakfast and Lunch – Open 7 days a week
Dinner  – Thursday to Saturday

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