Now I’m cautious when I say this, but it does look like The Age online coverage is much more respectful of their regional food than the SMH coverage was. Maybe it was just that nibbling away at Tetsuya’s tall poppy pedestal that seemed more important to them, but I think it does say something about Sydney dining style and of Melbourne’s or especially country Victorians. Or maybe it was just the influence of Terry Durack back from the UK with fresh eyes.

Maybe it was just that this year the Victorian Restaurant of the Year was a country one, The Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld? (Congratulations to Dan Hunter).

The Best Country Restaurant was The Tea Rooms of Yarck, (which will go some way towards minimising the jokes on the town’s name – Jan tells how when driving with a car ful of friends to the snow they would always wind down the windows and yell YAAARCK! as they drove through town).  Loam, on the Bellarine Peninsula, was named Best New Country Restaurant.

We followed the success of chef and owner Pietro Porcu and partner Bianca Stephenson at the Tea Rooms of Yark from enjoying their food at South Yarra’s Da Noi.

Dan Hunter at The Royal Mail Hotel draws heavily from the orchards and gardens provided by the hotel’s owners, Dunkeld local and QC Allan Myers’s Dunkeld Pastoral Company. ( Jackie Cooper wrote about Allan Myers’s role in the success in an early piece before Dan Hunter took over as chef .) The press release photograph of the Hotel with its Grampians background seems to have gained a distict glow since our first version of it.

Beechworth’s Provenance gained two hats and got a special mention for Country Wine List of the Year but since it’s in such a great wine region all the locals (with a heavy slant towards those wineries winemakers) go there for chef Michael Ryan’s great food. That’s when they’re not at consistently ‘one-hatted’  Warden’s down the road.

Here’s a very pretty video of Dan Hunter and staff at work and the Royal Mail in the landscape   with that amazing Mt.Sturgeon outcrop behind. The music sucks a bit though.

And here’s the Regional list, (and note the number of two hatted places compared to NSW)

Awarded Two hats

Lake House (Daylesford)
Loam (Drysdale on the Bellerine Peninsula) who in a case of of web savvy have a blog as their official site
Merrijig Inn (Port Fairy)
Provenance (Beechworth)
Royal Mail Hotel (Dunkeld)
Stefano’s (Mildura)
Tea Rooms of Yarck (Yarck) who charmingly? disdainfully? don’t have their own site, but lots of reviews eslewhere

One hat

Annie Smithers’ Bistrot (Kyneton)
Bella Vedere (Coldstream) also web siteless
Eleonore’s (Chateau Yering, Yarra Valley)
Montalto (Red Hill South)
Neilsons (Traralgon)
The Outpost Retreat (Noojee)
Perfect Drop Wine & Food Lounge (Daylesford)
Royal George Hotel (Kyneton)
Simone’s Restaurant (Bright)
Sourcedining (Albury)
Sunnybrae (Birregurra) another blogspot – who was first?
Teller (Mooroopna) another with no web of their own, lots of reviews though
Ten Minutes By Tractor (Main Ridge)
Villa Gusto (Bright)
Wardens Food & Wine (Beechworth)
Whirrakee Restaurant (Bendigo)

Country hats

Two hats

  • Lake House (Daylesford)
  • Loam (Drysdale)
  • Merrijig Inn (Port Fairy)
  • Provenance (Beechworth)
  • Royal Mail Hotel (Dunkeld)
  • Stefano’s (Mildura)
  • Tea Rooms of Yarck (Yarck)

One hat

  • Annie Smithers’ Bistrot (Kyneton)
  • Bella Vedere (Coldstream)
  • Eleonore’s (Yering)
  • Montalto (Red Hill South)
  • Neilsons (Traralgon)
  • The Outpost Retreat (Noojee)
  • Perfect Drop Wine & Food Lounge (Daylesford)
  • Royal George Hotel (Kyneton)
  • Simone’s Restaurant (Bright)
  • Sourcedining (Albury)
  • Sunnybrae (Birregurra)
  • Teller (Mooroopna)
  • Ten Minutes By Tractor (Main Ridge)
  • Villa Gusto (Bright)
  • Wardens Food & Wine (Beechworth)
  • Whirrakee Restaurant (Bendigo)