Restaurants

Is This The Best Restaurant in Australia?

By Iro Kotsimbos - 10 Mar 2015

brae
brae

Much has been said about Brae, the regional Victorian restaurant by lauded chef, Dan Hunter. It’s won countless awards, had every food critic in the country fawn over it, and been the subject of so many Instagram #foodporn images we’ve officially lost count.

With some people going so far as to call Brae the best restaurant in Australia, we knew we had to make the trip out to the Otways and see for ourselves what all the fuss is about. A foodie weekend away? Bring it on!

Located just over 90 minutes from Melbourne, in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Birregurra, Brae is your quintessential regional fine dining restaurant. Established after Dan Hunter left the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld, Brae is set within the former farmhouse of George Biron, Sunnybrae, from which it gained its name.

Dan and his staff have put the surrounding 30 acres of grounds to good use, with fruit, veggie and herb patches visible as you enter the property. The resulting fresh produce makes up a large portion of the Modern Australian menu, with other ingredients sourced from local Victorian food producers. 

But enough about the location…what about the food?! Well, Listers, you’re in for a real treat—this truly is a fine dining restaurant experience to behold.

We chose to start our Brae experience with a cocktail from the incredible drinks menu—a whisky based concoction for me, and a classic martini for my partner. Both were oh-so-smooth yet packed a punch; the perfect way to kick off our night of feasting.

From there a series of eight quirky yet mind-blowingly-awesome small bites came out—everything from salt and vinegar potato and burnt pretzel with treacle and pork, to hapuku with crisp skin and prawn with nasturtium and finger lime. The first two vinos from the matched wine menu also came out at this stage (a must if you want the full Brae restaurant experience), which complemented the small bites perfectly.

With the small bites done and dusted—or more like devoured in my case—the Brae team turned things up a notch, with a variety of seafood, chicken and red meat dishes. Don’t be mistaken, this wasn’t just a fancy version of steak and three veg—far from it! This was more like artwork on a plate, with dishes such as crayfish with potatoes and flathead roe, and aged Peking duck with quandong and dried liver as beautiful as they were delicious. The more we ate, the more we realised that, yes, Brae is very much deserving of its reputation as one of Australia’s best restaurants.

Every great meal is finished with dessert, and at Brae, we had the pleasure of eating the mouth-watering rhubarb and poached apple with preserved blackberry, served alongside a glass of moreish sticky. A balanced combo of sweetness and tart acidity, this dessert was the perfect finishing touch.

When it comes to fine dining, it really doesn’t get much better than Brae. From the picturesque location and stellar service, to the innovative Modern Australian cuisine and perfectly curated matching wines, Brae is undoubtedly one of our food-obsessed nation’s best restaurants. Do yourselves a favour and book a table—you won’t regret it!

Brae | 4285 Cape Otway Road in Birregurra
Lunch | Friday to Monday from 12:00pm
Dinner | Thursday to Saturday from 6:30pm
Book online or call 03 5236 2226 

Image Credit: Colin Page for Brae

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