Eynesbury Homestead, 487 Eynesbury Rd, Eynesbury. Phone: 9971 0407
It’s not really blindingly hot outside – not as hot as it’s been or will be.
But it is getting up there.
Yet we’re happy, contented and oh-so-cool in the wide open spaces of the billiards room at Eynesbury Homestead, the substantial bluestone walls of which keep the heat at bay, no airconditioning necessary.
We’re having fun, using pool balls, of course.
So inept are we, our lack of skill exposed by a full-size table, that games seem to take forever.
But that’s fully OK – we’ve got nowhere better to be and nothing better to do.
The staff have delivered us a good cafe latte and hot chocolate, and our skill levels are creeping up with repetition and practice.
Besides, we’re thrilled to have confirmed our belief that no matter how deeply we explore Melbourne’s west there’s always something new to discover.
In this case it’s a beautiful homestead, built in the 1870s and 1880s and situated in what seems to us like pretty much the middle of nowhere – drive past Caroline Springs, throw a left, keep driving, through the lovely Grey Box Forest, and there it is.
These days, the homestead seems to be operated in tandem with the surrounding golf course and real estate development. Although we know not just how these entities relate to each other.
Going by the homestead website, weddings are a big part of what goes on here, while the restaurant does lunches seven days a week, with dinner served on Thursday and Friday nights and breakfast at weekends.
The menu is short and simple, with cafe fare such as a parma or pie and chips running to the $15 to $20 mark. The kids menu has five items, all priced at $10.
We dine in the bright, modern atrium area, which is airconditioned.
Bennie orders the hamburger ($15.50).
Well, golly gosh – that’s a surprise!
It’s good, too. The patty is big and fat, though seems low on beefy flavour to me when I try a mouthful. But he loves it.
The bits and pieces – including good, hot chips – all work well for him, though the bun crumbles and disintegrates, requiring a mid-meal reconstruction job.
Bennie hogging the burger option leaves me to pursue something different.
So I get the “lamb souvlaki with tomato, onion, cucumber, olives, feta & taziki sauce” ($15.50).
I’ve spent a lifetime eating lamb of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern derivation, yet this meat looks like nothing I’ve ever seen as described as souvlaki.
Obviously, it’s not on skewers; nor does it appear to have been carved from a spit.
In fact, what it seems like is roast lamb shaved from leftovers from the previous day’s Sunday carvery spread.
I’m assured that’s not the case – and that there was no lamb served at the carvery. But suspicions linger, fuelled by the presence of rosemary leaves.
Worse still, my lamb is profoundly cold.
Back to the kitchen it goes – a real rarity for me.
Bennie has departed for the pool room when my replacement meal arrives, so I contemplate alone a dish that appears to include more of the same lamb, only this time browned-off quickly in the kitchen.
I really would like to make the most of this in a half-full spirit – the lamb mixed with the yogurt sauce and melting cheese is enjoyable enough, after all.
But there’s a factor that takes my meal from barely acceptable to disaster area – the olives are those pre-chopped, black and nasty numbers found in feral pizza shops.
They taste dreadful, clash with all the other flavours and simply don’t belong in any eatery at all, let alone one purporting to serve a dish with suggestions of Greece about it.
I’ve buried the description of my disappointing lunch as far down the story of our Eynesbury Homestead visit as I can, for the simple reason that as ordinary as it’s been it barely detracts from our enjoyment of the establishment, its gorgeous grounds and gardens, the obliging service … and the complementary billiards room.
Indeed, so enamoured are we with the place, we wonder if it’s possible to act upon a spur of the moment inspiration to spend the night.
After all, the vibe here is very similar to that of Werribee Mansion, where both digs and evening sustenance can be purchased.
Alas, we are told the nearest accommodation is to be had in Melton or Bacchus Marsh. Or Yarraville …
And, as previously mentioned, the restaurant does dinner only two nights a week.
Still, what a find!