Pig out at The Piggery Café!
It’s a Friday morning and I’m cruising through Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges with my travel bud Kate in some pretty swish wheels (thanks, Avis!).
Not being locals, we abandon the search for a radio station and lap up the scenery instead, which is dingin’ breathtaking.
Let me rephrase that: it’s about an hour if the person holding the compass (or iPhone) knows what they’re doing. With Lastminute Lovely Kate behind the wheel the job falls to me, so we arrive about two hours after leaving the CBD :/
Despite our extreme tardiness, Manager Emma is super welcoming and before we’ve even sat down we’re planning a return visit. This looks like a place you could really make a day of.
The café has attracted a crowd. Inside it’s packed and outside people are seated at communal tables relaxing and probably feeling pretty smug about their wise choice of place to while away the afternoon.
We sit side-by-side at a high table looking out over lawn bowls, croquet, and bocce pitches. Beyond that is a 500-tree truffière*.
The lunch menu is so jammed with tempting options that we’re feeling pretty torn and would happily order pretty much anything (except for the garden soup – it’s 31 degrees and, after all, who orders the soup?).
The frontrunners are a lush-looking lobster roll, a Blackmore Wagyu beef burger, and the Greenvale Farm pork belly BLT from the char grill BBQ, which is smoking away in a corner of the patio.
We’re momentarily distracted from the menu by the arrival of our waiter, Manager Max. Max is, ahem, pretty cute. Did I mention he’s French? 😉
In no time we’re sorted with a glass of Rob Hall Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley, which is crisp and delicious, and we’ve ordered a share dish from the char grill BBQ.
Our charcoal chicken platter with stuffing, house nuggets, and an assortment of fresh salads arrives on an oh-so-on-trend wooden chopping board and a huge blue-and-white enamel plate, which we both immediately covet.
Edible flowers and sprigs of dill (I’m going to take a punt and say they’re from the on-site veggie gardens) make it almost too pretty to eat. The chicken has been done a few ways and is perfectly cooked.
After making short work of our lunch, we order coffees. When our skinny cap (Kate) and skinny flat white (me) arrive we’re instantly transported to Caffeine Heaven. They’re Five Senses beans, but we think it’s largely down to the mad skills of barista Jordan (#killingitwithcrema).
The Piggery Café adjoins the Burnham Bakery, but sadly for our bread-and-pastry-loving-selves we’re too full from lunch to try any of the enchanting in-house baked goods. We add it to the list for our return visit.
We’ve heard tales of an art deco building on the estate and we’re keen for a closer look. With Max leading the way, we wander along a leafy path to the original Burnham Beeches mansion. It was built in the 1930s and while it’s been neglected in recent years, it’s a BEAUTIFUL building. The vision is to give it a new life as Australia’s first 6-star luxury retreat.
And that’s not the only plan afoot. Alongside the café, bakery, truffière, vegetable gardens, and emu enclosure, Shannon plans to open a dairy, steakhouse and… get this… a MICROBREWERY! Like I said, we’re already plotting our return visit.
We mainline more of Jordan’s stellar coffee and grab a photo op with Max before hopping back in our ride and hitting the road.
*I hadn’t heard this one before either. Google tells me it’s an orchard planted with specific tree species – in this case Oak – in order to cultivate truffles at the roots of the innoculated trees.