Melbourne’s CBD is gradually resurrecting as people return to work, but those still dreaming of a minibreak need not fret, because Farmer’s Daughters is bringing Gippsland to the city at its swish new multi-level venue at 80 Collins St.
Executive chef Alejandro Saravia (Pastuso) who owns the venue, and is also the official food and beverage ambassador for Gippsland, has spent four years bringing his vision of a deli, restaurant and bar to life, and now it has opened its doors to the public.
The colour palette is inspired by gumtrees, from olive green through to terracotta, and each level of the three-storey venue represents a different location: the ground floor is dedicated to Melbourne, the second floor represents Gippsland and the top floor is a rooftop oasis.
“Farmer’s Daughters brings a sense of place for everyone that wants to discover Gippsland... what I believe to be one of the most important farming regions in Australia. Off the back of the devastating bushfires and in the wake of a pandemic, supporting regional Victoria on the road to recovery has never been so important,” said Saravia.
The restaurant has no set menu as it only uses ingredients that are available from farmers at the time to avoid waste. Farmers arrive at its inner-city doorstep every day with fresh produce for head chef David Boyle (Lake House, Pastuso) – one recently arrived at its Collins St venue with a newly-slaughtered deer slung over their shoulder. Plus, all off-cuts are used in the deli or refashioned into pastes and broths.
Downstairs you’ll find the deli and providore serving Farmer’s Daughters house coffee. The deli fridge stocks cheeses by Butterfly Factory and Prom Country Cheese along with cured meats like Bass Strait beef cheek pastrami. There are bottles of pickled pine mushrooms and locally sourced craft beers including Gippsland brewer Sailor’s Grave and the Stringer’s Creek Pilsner.
Sink into brown leather banquettes and order warm Irish soda bread with honey molasses and St David Dairy’s cheesy cultured butter on top to your cloudy grey marble tables. Or grab one of the four daily sandwiches.
Upstairs, the restaurant is filled with the warm, inviting aroma of red gum logs and mountain pepper branches burning in a campfire grill in the open kitchen, which is where fillets of fish get their perfect char. The vibe up here is upscale country with lots of light timber, a wrap-around bar, and framed images of native botanicals. There are two menus: Taste of Summer or Summer Getaway, which will feature dishes like baked Baw Baw alpine trout with dill-infused mountain pepper cream and trout caviar, or heirloom tomato warmed on the campfire, served with fermented tomato consomme, tomato paste, and Snowy River Station’s pickled samphire.
On the third and final floor the rooftop bar’s vertical gardens include native herbs like strawberry gum and lemon myrtle, with mountain pepper bushes lining the sides. Beverage director Matthew Jensen’s (Vue de monde and Atlas Dining) list has a strong focus on Gippsland wines and spirits, featuring Bass Philip, William Downie and Patrick Sullivan; gin by Loch Brewery and Distillery; and a Maidenii vermouth that uses Gippsland botanicals. Who needs a minibreak when you can get the best of Gippsland right here.