Blackwood Ridge Cafe & Larder, 812 Greenhills Road, Blackwood. Phone: 5368 6707
There are many interesting eating experiences to be had in the more outlying and rural areas beyond Melbourne’s western suburbs, but CTS has only, over the years, fitfully explored them.
Honestly, most often the greater west seems quite vast enough for us.
But sometimes, things simply click.
In this case, a pal (Hi dale!) posts online some pics of her family’s up-country Saturday lunch – and we are intrigued and excited.
A quick check of the calendar, and we realise a Sunday adventure is definitely on.
We have a full tank of petrol and all current bills are paid – meaning there’s a little wriggle room for something a little more upmarket and extravagant than our regular cheap-eats routine.
So, next morning, off we go!
Along the West Gate, on to the ring road and up the Western Highway … past Bacchus Marsh and Myrniong, turn right.
Into the hills and eventually the depths of Lerderderg State Park.
The gravel-roaded approach to our eating destination is through dense forest, leading me to envisage our lunch may be of the log cabin variety.
But no … the trees eventually give way to a more trimmed and tidy rural scene, with Blackwood Ridge Cafe & Larder, and the associated nursery, tucked into what appears to be a small village.
The cafe itself is in a modern but cosy building off from the nursery, surrounded by lovely gardens and looking out on to a small lake or dam.
We’re hungry, so waste no time getting into the menu, despite being a bit early.
The menu, no surprise, is cafe-style tucker split into a range of small share plates, two larger share items and a handful of desserts.
Twice-cooked wedges of potato with herbed mayo ($10.50) are fine and very hot.
The serve eats bigger than it looks – a recurring theme.
A pet CTS dislike are those dodgy and dull Turkish rolls served in so many cafes.
So I am delighted to learn the Turkish bread listed online as accompanying the shared braised, spiced meatball dish ($29.50) has been replaced by couscous.
All is very good.
The half-dozen meatballs are chewy and fragrant, and – again – offer more substantial eating than appears may be the case.
The currant-studded couscous is marvelllous, as are the salad offerings and the rich, sticky tomato sauce.
I’m not sure, at all, how my son became such an ardent lover of vegetables and salads.
It’s unreal and wonderful – sometimes he gazes upon a serve of veg with something that appears to be akin to lust.
Such is the case with our blackened carrots ($12.90), which are an undoubted highlight of our meal.
The baby carrots, in a variety of colours and textures, are served with nigella and sunflowers seeds, and topped with coriander and tahini labneh, all lubricated by honey.
By this time, we are feeling well fed and pampered indeed, and seriously throttling back our plans for dual desserts to a single.
But what the hey – it’ splash-out time, and it could be a long while until we’re back this way again.
So two it is.
And they’re both puds.
Parsnip pudding ($13.9) has real-deal parsnip flavour to go with its ginger, currants and spices.
It’s served with vanilla crème anglaise and “our own lemon thyme and creme fraiche ice-cream”.
This is the stuff of sweet dreams, the only slight drawback – and the only one of entire meal – being that the ice-cream is rock hard, requiring at first some rather robust chiselling.
Brioche bread and butter pudding ($14.50) is every bit as good, served with candied blood orange, manuka honey crunch, mandarin crisps and almond praline.
This pair of wonders, and a couple of good cafe lattes, cap off a superb meal in a wonderful setting.
A few months back, after a similarly ritzy meal, Bennie opined that not only did he not really rate “expensive food” but he also thought it money not well spent.
As we depart Blackwood Ridge Cafe & Larder, he’s having some serious second thoughts about that line of thinking.
(And not that this place is expensive, either!)
We recommend a road trip outing to Blackwood very, very highly.
Check out the Blackwood Ridge Cafe & Larder website, including menu, here.