There are restaurants, and then there’s Lake House. With almost every national gastronomy award under its belt, this culinary destination is the icon that others look to for inspiration.
Celebrated for its championing of great Australian produce and its bespoke approach to hospitality on lake Daylesford in country Victoria. This ongoing success is due to the ingenuity of the Wolf-Tasker family. Culinary Director Alla and husband Allan (himself a renowned artist) purchased a bare paddock in Daylesford in 1979; a village certainly not known for its culinary pursuits. Dreaming of productive gardens, notable cellar, peerless local produce and menus that provided a real sense of place, they spent years clearing, building and planting, working to make their dream come true, opening in 1984.
Three decades on, since joined by daughter Larissa, her husband Robin and a tribe of industry professionals; the Wolf-Tasker’s evolved Lake House to include one of Australia’s most noted country hotels (Australia’s Best Regional Property). Fresh, modern interiors ensue a luxe country house vibe.
Guests indulge at the day spa or by the infinity pool, amongst acres of established country gardens, and often partake in the Cooking School. Whilst these alone make it a drawcard for global travellers; the beating heart of the property remains the 2 Chef Hat restaurant.
A Lake House experience more often than not begins with ‘aperitivo’ in The Argyle Library or on The Lagoon Deck at sunset. A signature Negroni, Elderberry Spritz or local Vermouth amongst the top picks.
Long before it became a marketing mantra; Alla’s vision was to create a sense of place for diners which meant sourcing seasonal, local ingredients where possible. “As a cook and gardener, I love the anticipation of seasonal windfalls,” Alla has said. “It fuels the imagination like nothing else. The aroma of those first quinces, the earthiness of freshly foraged wild mushrooms, the first white asparagus – how can one fail to be inspired?”.
Menus are still designed around seasonal availability, and three decades on, there is finally a network of small-scale organic and biodynamic farms that supply direct to the kitchen door.
Bread is baked daily from locally grown and milled biodynamic Spelt flour from Powlett Hill; a soft pastured pullet egg (from Limestone Farms) may sit on a bed of nettle gnocchi, asparagus and lovage. In summer; the tomato harvest brings so many varieties that it’s hard to keep count. Artisan growers such as Mt Franklin Organics deliver beautiful jewel-like fruit that is often prepared and paired with black olive, burrata and fragrant herbs. Those Autumnal mushrooms mentioned previously are sometimes combined with chestnut pasta, confit duck yolk and celeriac puree. The extraordinary meat from a Milking Yard Farm Chicken may be rolled into a ballotine served with jus gras, black barley and salsa verde. The food is interesting, beautiful and most importantly delicious.
A quick trip to the Cellar is a must to take a peek at the enormous selection on offer (roughly 13,000 bottles). The Wine List is in the Hall of Fame for Australia’s Wine List of the Year. The Cellar itself doubles as a private dining room. There is also the exceptional Waterfront Pavilion – with unparallel lake views. And the team are renowned for delivering an exceptional party…
Lake House may well be the complete package. A bespoke approach to hospitality means that service is refreshing, knowledgeable and welcoming. You’ll find yourself planning a return trip before you’ve even left the building.