Sunday 1 August 2010

Epic, sensational lunch at Sunnybrae

Sunnybrae Restaurant and Cooking School
Cape Otway Rd (Cnr Lorne Rd), Birregurra (map)
(03) 5236 2276

Sunnybrae Birregurra

Last Saturday the Anglo side of my family had a lovely long lunch, as is our tradition on July 24, in honour of my beloved, departed grandmother's birthday. We had it down at Sunnybrae in Birregurra (inland from Apollo Bay, and within surprisingly easy reach from Melbourne if you take the Geelong ring road).

Sunnybrae Birregurra

The restaurant is located within a lovely old homestead just outside of town. Now I'm afraid that as I write this post I'm racing the clock (got a plane to Thailand to catch!), so I may not get time to write up Sunnybrae in as much detail as it deserves. But I *so* wanted to write up this lunch that I figure brief descriptions and food porn photos are better than nothing!

Sunnybrae Birregurra

Sunnybrae's owner and chef, George Biron, is a keen blogger and writes an excellent blog which I read regularly. As he'd left the occasional comment on Melbourne Gastronome I was utterly shameless in asking our waitress upon arrival whether I could pop into the kitchen to meet George and say hello. George greeted me warmly and led me out to the oven to show me the turkey (our main course), which was being smoked.

Sunnybrae Birregurra ovenSmoking turkey

He showed me around the kitchen, then bade me close my eyes as he opened a container before my nose. I was treated to the smell of sensational fresh truffles from just down the road near Apollo Bay - George promised some of them would find their way into our meal. :)

George Biron's kitchen

The menu at Sunnybrae is a generous five course set menu, though you are offered alternatives for the main course, and a choice of dessert. At $70 a head it is outrageously good value. First up was the soup - an Anatolian-style lentil broth.

Lentils for the brothAnatolian-style lentil broth

The next course featured sugar-cured ocean trout with marsh samphire and a dill dressing. It came with a fresh ricotta-like cheese that had been lightly smoked in the oven.

Sugar-cured ocean trout with marsh samphire

Also served in this course was a salad of cauliflower and pumpkin topped with devilled almonds, and a baba ghanoush.

Cauliflower and pumpkin with devilled almonds, baba ghanoush

When our waitress had explained that a vegetarian alternative to the main course was a risotto with fresh truffles, Rumpole naughtily requested that our table get a few side serves of the risotto as an extra course (which we paid extra for), just so that everyone could have a few mouthfuls.

Truffle risotto

The last course before main course (!) included two lovely salads: one with fennel, radish and so-hot-right-now-ingredient sorrel, and the other with avocado and grapefruit.

Fennel and radish salad with sorrelAvocade with grapefruit

The salads came with a yufka roll filled with delicious kohlrabi, black kale and leeks and served with a vividly-orange anchoïade. It's hard to choose, but this was probably my favourite dish of the day.

Yufka roll with kohlrabi, black kale and leeks

We'd arrived at the restaurant at 12:30 so by this time it was already mid-afternoon. We were encouraged to take a pause of about 15 minutes to stroll around the gardens before the main course was served.

Sunnybrae Birregurra gardens

Part of the Sunnybrae vegetable garden. Participants in the all-day cooking class that George offers on Mondays get to harvest vegetables from the garden for their lunch (read Saskia's account of the Sunnybrae cooking school here).

Sunnybrae Birregurra gardens

My aunt from Sydney had very generously brought a bottle of 1990 Grange for us to drink (!!!!!!!!).

1990 Grange

And voilà, the main course: free-range turkey cooked in the wood oven, served with truffle choucroute and smoked meats.

Free range turkey

The side dishes were champ (Irish creamy mashed potatoes with spring onions) and carrots and sugar peas with blood orange and savoury.

Champ and vegetables with blood orange

We ordered a range of desserts: I had the sweet rhubarb soufflé with wonderfully sour brandied morello cherries and mocha ice cream.

Rhubarb souffle

Other family members had the crème brûlée with jackfruit and star anise & lime ice cream, and what was described on the menu as "Lemon Tart (F.O.T.S.) with passionfruit and honey-truffle ice-cream" (it turned out F.O.T.S. stands for "for old times' sake").

Creme bruleeLemon tart (for old times sake)

Aunt M had the Jindi Old Telegraph with pears and a fig & almond paste, and Rumpole went with the most unusual of the desserts, black pudding with apples and a cumquat relish.

Jindi Old TelegraphBlack pudding

Alas, my time is up and I'm sorry that this post doesn't discuss the dishes in as much detail as I usually write, but let me stress that the food we had at Sunnybrae was exceptionally good, with fantastic local ingredients and an impressive range of styles. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Sunset at Birregurra


Steph@LittlePotBelly said...

Wow, looks like you had a great lunch! The freshness of the ingredients simply exudes from every dish.

P said...

Turkey never looked so good and that cheese looks beautifully gooey.
Black pudding for desert is an interesting concept, but I reckon it would go well with a nice vintage port!

greenbeenfood said...

seriously looks amazing! epic is true too....did you were elastic waisted pants??

My Restaurants Melbourne said...

That ocean trout looks lovely!! good on you for going into the kitchen, I've got to try that soon too. Your food pictures good great too.

Gregory said...

black pudding as desert ????

I have seen this combination as a starter but never as a desert. Not even as a post meal savoury,

Nonetheless, looks like a great meal anyway.

Tresna said...

What an amazing lunch. The combinations of flavours in some of the dishes must have been incredible. I'm especially taken with the vegetable dishes and your gorgeous soufflé!

Kirstine Vergara said...

I love restaurants with a homey feel. I feel like I'm at my grandmother's house all over again in my pigtails with crumbs all over my face. Thanks for this. I'll be bringing my mom here; I'm sure she will love this place. She'll be reminded of the same thing. :)

Angela said...

omgosh, i had to comment as soon as i saw Grange. did it live up to the hype? :)