A spring time tour of Manningham

Recently the team at One Hour Out were invited to explore Manningham in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. What we found was an incredibly diverse mix of residential suburbs and verdant riverside parklands.

The region includes some of Victoria’s most engaging art experiences and the eclectic mix of cafes, restaurants and boutique shopping is second to none. The northern edge of Manningham is marked by the Yarra River that winds its way down from the Yarra Valley towards the city, with endless walking trails, picnic locations and playgrounds.

Come and join us as we explore this outstanding region.

Blackwood’s Martin Street Coffee Roasters welcomes good bakery offering

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Suppled

The quaint little village of Blackwood is about to become all the more charming with the opening of a new retail offering along the main drag.

The town’s much-loved Martin Street Coffee Roasters has welcomed their new flatmate Adam Kluga of Adam, The Good Baker this week, offering locals and visitors the chance to savour some of regional Victoria’s finest sourdough alongside their morning brew.

Blackwood Bakery

Hailing from a Sicilian background, Adam says food and baking have always played a significant role in his life.

‘I spent quite a few years living with my Nonna, so I learnt a lot about preserving and pickling and cooking more generally,’ Adam said. ‘My granddad was a career baker and my Nonna knew a lot about the trade, and that was my first exposure to making fresh bread and making good honest food.’

Having launched his micro-bakery from his humble home in Trentham during the height of the Covid pandemic in 2021, Adam quickly earned the community’s respect and admiration for his wholesome products made with love, passion and integrity.

I’m not trying to do anything flash. I’m just trying to make good, honest food for people to share. There’s no frills.

Having been approached by the Martin Street Coffee team, he said the opportunity presented itself at the right time and it made sense to ‘take the plunge’.

The retail space will initially operate from Martin Street Coffee Roasters on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with Adam also maintaining his wholesale and online orders. Expect indulgent sourdoughs, crispy baguettes, seeded loaves and other European-inspired goods.

‘It’s such a great opportunity and a beautiful space,’ Adam said. ‘The crew have curated such a welcoming, warm environment and I’m really looking forward to settling into the space, utilising a dedicated kitchen and offering people really good bread. It’s really exciting. I couldn’t have asked for a better fit.’

Trading since 2017, Martin Street Coffee Roasters is renowned for serving up carefully roasted, seriously decadent coffee with a big focus on being good to the planet.

Coffe Balckwood

The roastery specialises in small-batch roasting using bespoke fluid-bed, air-roasting technology that guarantees a smooth, bold, delicious and never bitter flavour profile and prides itself on choosing beans from family growers using sustainable, eco-friendly methods.

Martin Street Coffee Roasters founder Simon Daniel said his team was thrilled Adam would be operating out of the same premises as the factory door.

‘Adam produces slow-fermented bread products that are next level,’ Simon said. ‘We’ve known him for a reasonable while and have always enjoyed the high quality, crunch, texture, and flavour of his bread.

‘People see us as a destination, a welcoming hub to immerse oneself in the sight, sounds, and aromatics of the coffee production process. Visiting the factory door speaks to a wide range of people, from those sampling or purchasing our products to those making quick stops to stock up on beans and other products.

‘The idea was to support another small, high-quality business to get into an actual retail space. We have a good connection and look forward to the vibe this collaborative concept will bring.’


THE DETAILS:

WHAT: Adam, The Good Baker at Martin Street Coffee Roasters
WHERE: 21 Martin Street, Blackwood
WHEN: Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10am until sold out
FIND OUT MORE: Adam The Good Baker & Martin Street Coffee Roasters

We wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Meet Meeniyan’s new container bar, courtesy of craft brewer Sailors Grave

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

In befitting oceanic style, Gippsland family brewery Sailors Grave are launching a craft beer bar in a renovated shipping container. This one stays on land, however; right in the breezy community event space, Meeniyan Town Square.

The new outpost sees the brewery join forces with local favourite Italian restaurant Trulli to create a centrally located hospitality and tourism hub. Already home to Meeniyan Pantry & Cellar—a rustic cafe, deli and music venue—and Trulli Outdoors, Bakehouse & Gelateria, the Meeniyan Square is driven by sustainability, family and community, and offers patrons a family-friendly zone to eat, drink, and relax.

 

“We thought what Francesco and the team were building was almost the full package with the Restaurant, Bakehouse and Gelateria; it was just missing us, the special sauce!” Gabrielle Moore, brewer and co-founder of Sailors Grave said.

Sailors Grave, with roots planted further east in the Gippsland town of Orbost, will have eight taps in the container bar to showcase their range of beers: from crisp and juicy IPA to crowd-pleasing draught. It is set to launch February 17 to coincide with the Meeniyan Garlic Festival and will introduce locals and travellers alike to the brand, while giving Sailors Grave loyalists their favourite brews without long travel times.

“We fell in love with the unique, hand-crafted, artisanal beers from Sailors Grave. Quite simply, we’ve never tasted anything like it.
And with each new beer, we seem to keep saying that again and again!” Trulli owner Francesco Laera said.

They make beer like we make food. Subtle, fresh ingredients, and respect for those ingredients.

The creative collaboration is underpinned by a championing of Gippsland produce, with both brands boasting reputations for quality, innovation and collaboration. Trulli has undergone many transitions and additions, from their first days as a small restaurant to their now diverse variety of offerings from cheese and meat to pantry items and a huge wine cellar at the deli, to woodfired pizza, artisanal bread and gelati at the Bakehouse. Meanwhile Sailors Grave’s strength and uniqueness centres around telling the stories of the people, places, and ingredients of Gippsland.

The new joint venture is sure to bring new life to the Meeniyan Square and attract locals and travellers alike. ‘Cause nobody can resist a delicious pizza and beer combination.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Sailors Grave x Trulli at Meeniyan Town Square
WHERE: Meeniyan Square: 94 Whitelaw St, Meeniyan
WHEN: 17 February 2023
MORE INFO: Sailors Grave

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Sydney’s iconic Italian eatery Totti’s is coming to Lorne

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Sydney hospitality group Merivale has announced they are bringing their beloved Italian restaurant Totti’s to the Surf Coast.

In what may one day be known as the act that ended the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, Totti’s Restaurant is set to open on the ground floor of the Lorne Hotel in February 2023, bringing their famous woodfired pizzas and house-made pastas to Victorians for the first time.

At the helm is Surf Coast local chef Matt Germanchis, who is no stranger to fine dining, having worked at some of Melbourne’s top restaurants and with partner Gemma Gage ran the much missed Captain Moonlight in the Anglesea Surf Club. His knowledge of, and knack for, championing local produce will see Totti’s menu tie together its lauded Italian classics with local fare.

The “classic” half of the culinary team is kept in style by Merivale’s Executive Chef Mike Eggert, who is responsible for making all of Totti’s four outlets such successes. He says that Totti’s in Lorne will maintain the same vibe and signature dishes that Sydneysiders have come to love, while also paying homage to its new southern oceanic locale.

“It is an amazing opportunity to bring Totti’s laid-back style and signature dishes to one of the most iconic coastal locations in Australia that is Lorne. Totti’s is a restaurant where you can walk off the beach for a quick bite and glass of wine or stay for a long lunch with friends and families, which fits Lorne to a tee and pairs perfectly with the ‘choose your own adventure’ nature of the menu,” Eggert says.

Lorne’s prime position for seafood will be celebrated across the menu, with the region’s finest local produce on display; from calamari, mussels, and crayfish to King George Whiting. The drinks offering will be filled with crowd-pleasers and a focus on local Victorian vineyards and producers. All to be enjoyed with panoramic views of Louttit Bay and the coastal bush no matter where you are seated in the venue.

This breezy, downtempo atmosphere makes Totti’s the perfect spot for an idle lunch, weeknight dinner, or celebration amongst friends. Both booking and walk-ins will be available.

Totti’s will be taking over from MoVida, who have moved on from the downstairs outpost after Merivale acquired the iconic Lorne Hotel in May 2021. The opening of the relaxed, yet sophisticated Italian restaurant marks the first step in the 150-year-old pub’s new era, which—under Merivale’s experienced team—is set to be defined by the same easy-breezy elegance.


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Totti’s Lorne
WHERE: The Lorne Hotel | 176 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne VIC 3232
WHEN: February 2023
MORE INFO: Merivale

We wish to acknowledge the Eastern Maar people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

A micro flower farm in Trentham to launch the latest book from Sharon Flynn

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

Bestselling author and founder of The Fermentary Sharon Flynn isWild Drinks Sharon Flynn set to launch her second book Wild Drinks – once again sharing her incredible knowledge about fermentation with the world.

Dubbed “the definitive book on infusing, brewing, and fermenting delicious things to drink”, Wild Drinks is the perfect companion for anyone who’s curious about conjuring unique drinks – whether it’s the perfect sake or carrot ale, ginger beer or fruit vinegar, rose water kefir or kombucha.

Following on from her debut book Ferment for Good, Sharon says she’s excited to share a read which she thinks many people will find more “appealing”.

“Drinks – and the gorgeous, natural bubbles we all love – are appealing to so many more people,” Sharon says. “We can get bacteria into our bodies and lives very easily this way and most drinks don’t take that long to make.”

The Fermentary is the culmination of a life-long passion for Sharon.  Since 2014,  her business has (primarily) produced award-winning sauerkraut and kimchi, supplying some of Australia’s best restaurants and shops.

Having originally set up base in Daylesford, Sharon and her daughters opened up a space in Fitzroy North following the pandemic – a space which has now taken on a life of its own and is dedicated to education, creation and the sharing of some of Sharon’s favourite ferments from around the world.

“We ferment in small-batches, naturally culturing food and drinks, slowly and with minimal intervention,” she says.

“I will always be in love with connecting food and the simple, everyday things we do to our near and distant past. Fermentation brings a quiet magical transformation, traditional techniques – a relationship with the invisible – and (in the right environment) when left to its own devices, it will not only preserve, but make the flat bubbly, your dough chewy and light, most things more delicious, and bring life into your kitchen and body! What’s not to love?”

The Trentham Wild Drinks book launch will be held at Acre of Roses, the space where all the images from the book have been shot.
Acres of Roses

“The Fermentary was based in Daylesford for almost 10 years so Trentham and the surrounds hold a very special place close to our hearts,” Sharon says. “All of the images from the book were also shot at Acre of Roses and we would love to share this stunning location with you.”

The launch will feature small-batch brews, ferments and infusions from the book to taste, including Jamu, Tepaché, Kombucha and Shrubs.

Acre of Roses will also open up their garden, making it a perfect picnic-worthy event.

“There will be a scavenger hunt in the apothecary garden, where we grow many herbs and veggies that we use for our wild drinks and ferments (and) we will also demonstrate making our award-winning rose water kefir using the roses from the garden.”

Sharon says she hopes her work continues to raise awareness about the rare artform that is fermentation and the wonders inherent within.

“This is a lost artform – mostly done in a very practical way in a rustic environment,” she says. “Many people now imagine they need more experience, more equipment, less germs, so to share and connect – and inspire people to think a bit further about what they are buying and where we have come from – (that’s my aim).

“Also to comfort people in a sense – that we’ve only been out of touch for a few generations and we can bring back good flavour, real food and our connection to that really easily. There is enough food for everyone if we are allowed to tap into our ancient, pre-industrial knowledge.

“Not only are our guts depleted of the wide variety of life required for good health, but so is the soil.  Naturally fermented foods and drinks are really the easiest, very delicious and natural way to get a wide variety of wild bacteria and yeasts into our bodies now. We are now in a time where we are told that we need to get ‘pre-, pro- and post-biotics’ made in a lab into our guts and a lot of people don’t realise that the bacteria we’ve relied upon is stronger and better than any of that.”


THE DETAILS:

WHAT: Wild Drinks book launch
WHEN: Sunday, December 18
WHERE: Acre of Roses, Trentham
MAKE A BOOKING: thefermentary.rezdy.com

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Almost Summer Music Festival is kicking off summer festivities in Bendigo

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images Supplied

As the state begins to peel back their layers of duffel down, cast aside the woolly hats, and reveal their vitamin-D deficient skin to the sun, so too is the planning for warmer days ramping up. Musical festivals are often the first cab off the rank in the booking-up of sunshine months and Bendigo has gifted us a new ripper: Almost Summer Music Festival.

The regional festival is exploding into its inaugural year with a huge lineup of local and national acts. Its headliners include Kardajala Kirridarra—the incredible all-female First Nations act from the Red Centre—singer-songwriter extraordinaire Gabriella Cohen, and critically acclaimed Melbourne five-piece Bananagun. Punters can also expect to catch a range of other artists across almost every musical genre: Geoffrey O’Connor, Pookie, PhoebeGo, Cool Sounds, Greatest Hits, Sunfruits, Freeds, Suzi, Carissa Nyalu, Nadia Phillips, Flora, and Aplegate all feature. To keep you dancing into the night, DJs Joey Lightbulb and DJ Friday are on deck with their original mixes of disco, house, funk, and more.

All acts will take to the one outdoor stage, located right beside historic Capital Theatre, across three days. The event is family-friendly and has been curated by experts to keep the vibes high. Plenty of locally sourced food and drinks are available for a pitstop in between boogies, and Bendigo Vinyl will host a pop-up record store throughout the event if you’re hoping to add to your record collection.

Creative Director of Hear Them Holler, the independent agency behind Almost Summer, Lior Albeck-Ripka says, “Curating Almost Summer Music Festival has been a dream come true. We’re getting to put on a festival that we want to go to! We’re beyond excited to have booked Kardajala Kirridarra — a band I’ve personally fawned over and who haven’t played in Victoria for over four years. Whilst we’re all experiencing one of the coldest winters ever in Victoria, we are busy planning this super fun all-inclusive festival of great music and food. We want the experience to be easy, relaxed and fun, and we’re thinking of all the things audiences will want so we have them on the ground ready to go.”

Almost Summer is a part of Victoria’s celebrated new statewide Always Live program centred on bringing world-class live music events to hungry gig-goers. Other acts include Dua Lipa at the Palais Theatre (sold out), Toro Y Moi at Northcote Town Hall, and many more.

Tickets to Almost Summer are limited to 500 per day to keep the shows intimate and to ensure plenty of dancing room. Punters can choose to purchase a pass for the entire three-day event or to pop in on individual days/nights. The full timeline of acts can be found on the Almost Summer website linked below. Tickets are available now.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Almost Summer Music Festival
WHERE: View St, Bendigo VIC
WHEN: November 25-27 2022
MORE INFO: Almost Summer Music Festival

We wish to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Is Sorrento Victoria’s new dining capital?

Words by Richard Cornish
Images Supplied

Sorrento’s colonial limestone buildings look out over a half moon of Norfolk Island pines onto white sands framing the azure blue waters of Port Phillip. A community of seafarers, surfers, retirees, and tradies who co-exist with weekend and summer influx of visitors, it may be remarkably beautiful, but it has never truly been a dining destination.

While Bistro Elba has punched above its weight for years, offering great wines and excellent meals based on local produce, Sorrento has not otherwise had an overabundance of great food offers.

Come 2022, and the situation has been completely overturned. Sorrento is now almost overburdened by experienced, talented chefs with venues filled with some big culinary names. Scott Pickett opened Audrey’s, his seafood-focused restaurant at the Continental Hotel. Ashley Hicks, who cooked with Tom Aikens in London, moved to Sorrento to open the refurbished Stringers Store. This week the Hotel Sorrento reopens its bar and dining room with a menu overseen by George Calombaris. Down by the water’s edge is modern fine-dining pioneer Paul Wilson who is back in the kitchen at Morgan’s Sorrento.

“I love to fish. I love the beach. I love living in Sorrento,” says Paul Wilson. He is on the pans cooking French-inspired dishes in this historic village near the end of the Mornington Peninsula. Paul led the Brit-pack chef scene in the early 2000s making a name for himself at the Park Hyatt restaurant Radii with a dish of truffled polenta and soft egg. His oyster nights at the Botanical Hotel in South Yarra were infamous, and he bought the dodgy Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda back to a place of culinary worthiness.

Now he’s at Morgan’s Sorrento, a smart casual bistro, flooded with light with an enviable bayside view. “Being down here means I am close to my favourite suppliers,” says Paul. He buys directly from Torello Farm, Hawke’s Farm, Harry from Flinders Mussels, and Mock’s Orchards. To prove a point, he brings out a barley-fed beef rib, braised in stock for six hours, finished in the oven and served with a single slow-cooked carrot. ‘The carrot is from Hawke’s Farm at Boneo,” he says proudly. “I treat it like a good piece of beef and slowly braise it in stock.” He follows this with a stunning tarte tartin made with the bio-dynamic apples from Mock’s at Main Ridge, nestling on a golden buttery puff pastry base.

I have always chosen to open places where I could enrich the community, and I felt there was an opportunity to make a contribution here in Sorrento, close to a great food bowl and wine region. And it is so bloody beautiful.

One of Paul Wilson’s kitchen acolytes is Ash Hicks. He worked with Paul at Circa at the Prince in St Kilda. Now he is Executive Chef for the Darling Group overseeing venues such as Higher Ground and Dundas and Fausset in Albert Park. He is presently in Sorrento supervising the opening of Stringers. Set in the colonial-era limestone building and formerly a store.

Stringers is now a café, pizzeria, and providore set in the clean, lean, cool interior by architect Chris Connell. “I am absolutely in love with the limestone walls,” says Ash. “The courtyard has been opened up, and it is this beautiful limestone encased garden,” he explains. We have put a pizza oven in, Napoli style. It rotates and can do a pizza to perfection in two minutes thirty seconds.” While the bake is fast, the dough takes 72 hours to prove, developing a mass of flavour to underpin Ash’s scant three toppings. His favourite is That’s Amore fresh mozzarella and Mr. Canubi mortadella over a layer of San Marzano tomatoes. “At present it’s breakfast and lunch,” he says. “The offer is simple but very, very good. We are making our own brass die extruded pasta every day. For breakfast come and try the chilli eggs,” he says. This is a dish of folded eggs topped with whipped goats curd and what he describes as a fiery caponata laced with caper brine. “But this is a space for everyone,” he adds. “Like Sorrento, it is beautiful and casual.”

Up the hill is Hotel Sorrento. This beautiful 150-year-old building, with its iron lacework and Italianate tower, re-opened its dining room last week under the careful watch of celebrity chef George Calombaris. The former MasterChef star has teamed up with the Pitt family, owners of the 1872 hotel, to work on the new menu and the opening of a Cantonese-inspired restaurant.

The chef moved to a home in the Peninsula hinterland recently and told the media that he has been welcomed by the Mornington Peninsula community and is focusing on the ‘simple things in life’. While Calombaris is not hands-on in the kitchen, his role as Culinary Director sees a brand-new menu that borrows heavily from the Mediterranean with dishes like porchetta, swordfish, salt cod croquettes, and pub favourites like parma, schnitzel, and cheeseburger. In October, the old downstairs ballroom will open as Shi Hui Shi. At the time of writing, George had not yet finished the Cantonese-style menu, but we are promised an umami-filled offering with loads of old-school favourites given a modern twist.

Another big-name Melbourne chef who has taken digs down the pointy end of the Peninsula is Scott Pickett. He has a house near the newly re-opened Continental Hotel, a venture in which he is heavily involved. “When we first started work on the ‘Conti’, we wanted to make sure there was somewhere in this beautiful old hotel for everyone,” he says referring to the four-story 1875 pub. It was built by George Coppin, who also ran the steamships that bought visitors down the bay from Melbourne in the 1800s. He connected the ferry to the hotel with a tramway. In the 1880s Sorrento was a thriving place for Melbourne’s well-to-do leisure seekers. The historic building recently underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment.

This includes 106 five-star rooms, now managed by the Intercontinental Hotel. Scott worked with property developer The Trenerry Group and Melbourne pub guru Craig Shearer to take on the food and beverage offer that extends to 12 different outlets within the expansive hotel. “I wanted to have an exceptional seafood restaurant but also make sure I could still have a place to go with my mates after a day fishing,” he says.

Downstairs in the public bar you can order pub dishes such as perfect fish and chips and Thai curries while in the expansive Atrium, there are more sophisticated dishes straight from the wood-fired Josper grill in the Atrium. Upstairs is the luxurious Audrey’s, a light-filled dining room looking out over the bay where you can enjoy the luxury of a lobster and caviar tartlet, then a nibble of eel with malt glaze or cured kingfish ham on a rye crisp washed down with a glass of premier crus blanc de blanc Champagne. “Sorrento has always been a place for leisure and holidaymakers,” says Pickett. “With this re-development and others around Sorrento, this beautiful town is regaining the glamour it had in its heyday.”

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Vegecareian Festival is back, along with a new immersive lightscape

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images Supplied

If it’s universal compassion you’re after, a day trip to Vegecareian Festival might be an excellent place to start.

In 2013, the Western world’s largest stupa — aptly titled the Great Stupa, standing tall just a short drive outside of Bendigo — began hosting an annual spring festival dedicated to the love of animals and plants. They called it Vegecareian Festival (emphasis on the care) and fast became one of the state’s most popular multicultural family-friendly events before it was shuttered by the pandemic. The one-day extravaganza returns this October 1st, marking a new period of exciting events brightening the Great Supa calendar.

Vegecareian teaches a lot more than just the joys of eating vegetables. The day is infused with the stupa’s central principle of compassion; market stalls of locally made produce are available to purchase, cooking demonstrations feature dishes from around the globe for some free education, and family activities are dotted throughout the day. In an outstanding act of 21st Century altruism, a Buddhist monk will be present to bless your pet if you’re up for bringing them along. Dogs, cats, chickens, and donkeys have been known to receive a blessing in the past.  Even if vegetarianism isn’t your thing, soaking up the goodwill in the air does something nice to your insides.

Marketing and Events Manager at Great Stupa Matthew Griffin told us recently visitor numbers can be expected to grow to between 1000 and 2000 people on the day, plus animal companions. “We wanted to bring people together for education about animal care, introduce people to a vegetarian lifestyle, and give them an opportunity to learn how to cook vegetarian food,” he explains. This free, multifaceted festival is an awesome expression of compassion (a rare and valuable practice in today’s fast-paced world) and marks an exciting opportunity to mingle with the local community.

Once your belly is full with uniformly excellent food and you’re ready for more pleasantries at Great Stupa, head back once a month for their brand new lightscape experience, Enlighten. Vermillion red, cobalt blue, canary yellow, and more vibrant lights have been designed to shimmer off the canvas white of the stupa and flow across their garden, Peace Park. The immersive show presents an exclusive opportunity to view the stupa after dark while live performers roam throughout the evening for your entertainment. Their first event is slated for August 13th, and will be held throughout the year on multiple nights and on special occasions. Tickets are available via their website.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Vegecareian Festival
WHERE:
Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, 25 Sandhurst Town Road, Myers Flat (Bendigo) VIC 3556
WHEN:
 Saturday October 1st, 10am-3pm
MORE INFO: Great Stupa of Universal Compassion

We wish to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Making street food magic at The Laneway in Healesville

Words by Tehya Nicholas 
Images Supplied

Heather Alcock, who served homemade pies, cakes, salads and more in her bustling cafe in Healesville for twelve years has now turned her attention to something a little spicier.

Down the leafy stretch of the Maroondah Highway, when the straw-yellow fields fade into tree-lined suburbia, Alcock’s Mocha & Lime cafe stood as a faithful outpost to locals and travellers alike. She had nailed the formula of a great neighbourhood cafe: leafy location, lack of pretension, good coffee and seasonal, fresh brunches.

When Mocha & Lime was forced to close in June this year due to structural problems inside the building, a collective outcry went up from neighbourhood coffee lovers. Alcock, ever enterprising, found a new spot just up the road: an exposed-brick warehouse space with ample natural light, outdoor seating and an idyllic, sprawling garden, owned and co-occupied by her friends at Alchemy Distillery. She told us recently, “We just hit them up for this space. They’ve been asking me for ages [to do something], but I didn’t want to take on too many projects… But now, we thought we’d better jump on it.”

What’s new at this new venue surreptitiously titled The Laneway? Well, practically everything. Alcock has seized the location shift as an opportunity for a complete culinary and aesthetic redo. Where Mocha & Lime championed downtempo cafe classics in the kitchen, The Laneway slips into something a little spicier. Alcock and her team are careful to avoid strict labels early in the game, but gave us murmurs of “Mexican street food” and “South American inspired bites”. When the kitchen receives its final pieces of polished cookware and last lick of paint in the coming weeks, hungry customers can order salsa-laden nacho plates, cheesy quesadillas, and tostadas of every variety.  Alcock has been sure to uphold her passion for serving locally grown and prepared produce.

“We’ve brought in Yarra Valley Smokery pork and chicken so we will use this across a few dishes,” she explains. “Plus, we have vegan tostadas with chipotle beans.” Seems she hasn’t forgotten the plant lovers.

Among the light, bright meals, their speciality coffee is an aficionado’s delight, served with all the milky suspects you’d expect at an inner city cafe. Local beers, an array of alcoholic Mexican imports, cocktail classics, and gin and vodka-tasting paddles from neighbours Alchemy Distillery flow across the day if that’s your kind of thing.

Softly opening the third week of July for light bites and drinks, your first chance to drop by for a taste of the South American-inspired turn from Alcock is soon upon you. It may be unusual for a community favourite to curveball into a new culinary domain, but their loyal band of customers and budding newcomers are here for the swing.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: The Laneway
WHERE: 242 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville
WHEN: Open Monday, Thursday, Sunday 8am-5pm, Friday and Saturday 8am-8pm, Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
MORE INFO: The Laneway

We wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

A taste of Mexico in Woodend

Woodend has expanded its culinary repertoire with the opening of a Mexican restaurant and bar – and just in time for the winter.

Las Margaritas is the newest addition to the town’s food scene, boasting everything from nachos and tacos through to cocktails and tequila.

Situated on Woodend’s main drag, Las Margaritas opened at the beginning of June and is one of the only haunts in the Macedon ranges offering visitors and locals a genuine taste of South America.

And the best part, the menu is chock-a-block with options for the vegans, vegetarians and even the gluten-free folk out there.

“We are a casual and fun place that brings a bit of the city to the country,” owner operator Seema Been says. “We pride ourselves on our cocktails and meals, chimichangas and tacos.”

Having been in the hospo industry for 15 years, Seema has worked in a number of Melbourne businesses spanning from pubs to Latin restaurants and Spanish tapas eateries.

She says she bought the business during lockdown without even seeing it.

“I’ve been coming to the Macedon Ranges for years and had a soft spot for Woodend so when an opportunity arose, we grabbed it,” she says.

“Once we got the keys, we had our work cut out to open asap.”

The menu is indeed worth writing home about. Start your experience with a mouthwatering aperitivo – some corn on the cob with tajin, burnt butter and chipotle mayo, or potachos topped with melted cheese, salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

Or maybe savour your own tostada, double decker tacos, fried tortillas or tacos – dubbed as God’s gift to the world.

The selection doesn’t stop there. The menu also boasts signature paella, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, fajitas and salads – all perfectly accompanied with your favourite beverage and ready to turn your chilly winter’s eve into a helluva warm one.

“It’s not a job, it’s a passion for food and drinks,” Seema says. “Especially in the current environment; to shop for ingredients and present a menu that appeals to the taste buds and pockets.

“The journey has just begun for Las Margaritas with plenty more to come with the change of season.”


THE DETAILS:

WHAT: Las Margaritas
WHERE: 81 High St, Woodend
FIND OUT MORE: facebook.com/Lasmargaritaswoodend

We wish to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.