The Lake House at Daylesford is what destination dining is all about.
This place is so gorgeous I feel as though I'm in a photo shoot for a glamorous magazine. It's about an hour and a half of driving from Melbourne to get there but well worth the effort. Of course, even better if you indulge in a few wines and stay there.
With two Chefs Hats, The Australian Hot 50 and Australia's Wine List of the Year to its credit, it's no surprise the the food is an exquisite combination of perfect local produce carefully prepared to highlight the flavours and presented on the plate as a picture. It's all overseen by Culinary Director Alla Wolf-Tasker, a luminary in the food world.
Virtually everything, from the house baked breads to the extensive range of charcuterie, is made on premise. And it tastes like it.
Our lunch is in the newly opened Waterfront Pavilion which puts our group even closer to Lake Daylesford. From the lunch table I can see the tracks winding around the lake and into Wombat State Forest. The geese seem to have everything under control.
Lunch starts with regional specialities including a plate of local salumi and house pickles. There's white bean puree surrounded by grilled sourdough.
A Lake House Caesar salad includes crisply crumbed poached eggs while the beet harvest plate really looks like a beautiful bouquet. It mixes beets, carpaccio, poached, pickled remoulade and mustard creme fraiche.
I'm feeling very satisfied and yet more food comes out. It's slow cooked confit duck with apple and currant choucroute and a shoulder of Flinders Island saltbush lamb that has been roasted with Moroccan flavours.
When dessert arrives it's an alternative drop between a Lake House classic, The Apple and a concoction of blueberry, quince, honey, chocolate and walnut that's known as The Ramble.
The temperature controlled Lake House cellar is also a dining room. It's a little chilly, but nothing that a good red wine can't fix. The biggest danger is finding too many irresistible bottles on the shelves to taste.
Upstairs, the main dining room features evocative paintings inspired the local area by Allan Wolf Tasker. There's also a generous lounge area with a piano.
There's a special kind of bliss waiting for guests who check into Lake House accommodation. The rooms are styled with casual elegance with a nod to the regional location. It's chic but extremely comfortable and surrounded by absorbing views.
Take a walk through the grounds to discover Allan Wolf-Tasker's studio which offers an interesting glimpse of the artist's work.
Ed+bK rating: ***** Exquisite food in an exquisite setting.
Recommended for: People who love the good life.
Best tip: Stay and take advantage of the spa treatments or do a cooking class. You can thank me later.
Bottom line: Lunch and dinner cost from $80 for two to four courses. There is a $145 multicourse Tasting Menu. A two-night escape for two people starts at $567 per night and includes a three-course a la carte dinner on one night and full country style breakfast daily.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Lake House and Tourism Victoria.