Not many people would drive hours out of the city for lunch.
But Brae is that special kind of destination dining that pulls food lovers and curious culinary adventurers far and wide.
I had first learned of Chef Dan Hunter while he was making waves at The Royal Mail , another destination dining establishment situated deep in the outback. He’s a creative wizard and if you were lucky enough to make a visit – you were sure to scream from the top of the Southern Grampians Ranges about it.
Lucky for us, Chef Hunter recently opened his new venture Brae (situated a tad bit closer to Melbourne) and we were given the chance to experience a meal of a lifetime.
No really. The entire time on Brae’s grounds I was repeating in my head “I will never…ever…experience something this special ever again”.
This is definitely an opportunity unparalleled.
The grounds are gorgeous, a quaint country farmhouse situated between fields of grazing cattle and rows of tall trees filled with exotic colorful birds. The orchard and garden area set to expand over the coming months with hopes of adding a a small bakery and coffee shop and few cottages for guests to extend their stay overnight.
The dining room was surprisingly casual and modern. Intimate with only a few seatings per day but still inviting and comfortable.
The staff was approachable and attentive, offering private tours of the garden to stretch your legs mid-way through the tasting event….yes event. I don’t think there is a more appropriate word for such theatrical food and stunning plates continuously arriving to your table for a thrilling 5+ hour visit.
We enjoyed the large glass enclosed kitchen, were you could observe the calm delicate dance of plating, and perfection happening behind the scenes.
And the food!? Unlike anything I’ve ever had in my life.
A Selection of Standouts:
Beef Tendon & Mountain Pepper / Burnt Pretzel, Treacle and Pork, Prawn Nasturtium & Finger Lime, Wallaby on Flax cracker / Grass Fed Wagu, Rock Samphire & Otway Shiitake / Charred Radiccio, Duck Offal & Muntrie Berries / Dry Aged Jumbuck, Beans & Lettuce / Calamari & Pickles / Watermelon, Quandong, Rhubarb & Rose / Short Fin Ell, Sea Urchin, Zucchini & Macadamia
I can’t say I’ve ever had Wallaby Tartar or wild jumpbuck before, let alone a variety of other locally sourced Australian native ingredients historically used in primitive Aboriginal cultures – but I loved every new sensation of it. Better yet, I loved how kind, warm and willing the intimate staff was to explain each and every carefully placed ingredient on the plate.
Learning and exposure to new flavors gets me incredibly excited – Australia had me on my toes the entire trip!
Food this gorgeous can in some occasions be delivered with pretentious attitude. At Brae they were nothing but honest and excited to share food and history that is truly unique and unlike any dining experience I will ever duplicate….that is unless I find myself back in Birregurra.
The food was playful, exciting, and begging for your toughest questions…all which were delightfully answered.
Oh Australia. You magical place…where the quality of food is supreme, the people always inviting and warm. You’re a majestic nature-filled wonderland where you just happen to find cockatoos in trees and their feathers on the ground.
I am absolutely smitten with you!
What a perfect and extra special way to cap off our exciting food-filled Australian adventure!