Steel Cutters Cottage
83 Main St, Great Western
03 5356 2486
Steel Cutters Cottage is more than its name suggests. The former self-contained accommodation has been transformed into one of Great Western’s newest culinary hubs, combining a remarkable providore and restaurant with a region-focused wine list and a menu showcasing artisan produce.
Rohan and Marlene Erard are responsible for said transformation. The original Blacksmith’s cottage was built in 1911 and has fast become an icon of the region. In 2013 the couple purchased the property and completely renovated it. The cottage has now become their family home and the adjoining building was converted into a providore and restaurant, known as The Tasting Room.
Once the renovation was done, the hard work really began. Rohan and Marlene run the kitchen, but they are not what you’d consider to be classically trained chefs – their knowledge and skills come from a lengthy self-schooling process, and a lot of trial and error.
The couple believe the key to creating beautiful food starts with using beautiful produce. They ensure everything that appears on the Tasting Room’s menu is fresh and pure – they consider where the produce has come from and how it was grown. This dedication has also led to the establishment of an on-site organic vegetable and herb garden.
The result is a restaurant serving beautiful dishes made from scratch with a menu that is heavily influenced by French and Italian flavours. Since they rely so heavily on the ingredients on hand, Rohan and Marlene have the flexibility to serve a variety of seasonal menus, from light lunches of antipasto, charcuterie or mezze platters in the warmer months, to hearty pot pies, signature pithiviers and silky smooth soups with artisan bread during the cooler months.
For dining events, the couple offers set menus allowing guests to select from a few seasonal choices. If you leave it up to the chefs, you might be served a light and fluffy blue cheese souffle for entree, with a main of confit duck served on a bed of braised cabbage, with pommes fondant and rocket. Dessert is often chocolate, which pairs beautifully with the region’s sparkling shiraz.
Shiraz Sundays are one of the regular feature events that are held monthly. Guests can enjoy a relaxed afternoon session with a glass of regional wine, seasonal tasting boards, slow-braised sliders and live music.
The historic building, with its vertical corrugated iron walls and open atrium roof, provides the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a meal with a glass or two of local wine – most of the drops on the wine list are from small wineries who do not have their own cellar door.
It’s also a great spot to pick up some produce for your own kitchen bench. Rohan and Marlene have created Erard’s Artisan Produce – a collection of French charcuterie, including p.t.s, terrine and rillettes, all of which are entirely handmade in the cottage kitchen. They are sold in the providore, along with a number of other locally made products, including olive oils, conserves, cheeses and artisan breads.
Steel Cutters Cottage has a new reputation. Once known as an historic building, it’s now become a food and wine destination, offering visitors the chance to experience the full culinary offerings of the Grampians region.