Sunday lunch: Sunnybrae, Birregurra

DEVOTEES of chef George Biron's unique brand of slow food know to book ahead for a table at this outstanding 55-seater. Located about half an hour west of Geelong, it is often booked out a week ahead - with a waiting list.

Biron and partner Diane Garrett run this farmhouse restaurant just outside Birregurra (population 688). They open at weekends for lunch and cooking classes on Mondays.

Biron's lunches are set-priced ($70), multi-coursed (he insists there are only five courses - but really, there are nine) and reveal the wonder of eating things fresh from the garden or locally sourced.

The soup and all entrees (six small dishes) are served automatically, with a choice of mains and desserts. The wine list features a choice of well-priced wines mainly from the Geelong Otway region.

Home-baked bread arrives, followed by fish broth with drizzled egg ladled from a copper saucepan and served with sweet farmed prawns and aioli. Then three entrees arrive to share: home-smoked ricotta with red and black tomatoes and ruchetta with an anchovy dressing, samphire-cured ocean trout and green beans, young carrots and radish salad. A little later three more arrive: cucumber and watercress with air-dried ham, watermelon and garlic salad and a warm kohlrabi, leek and capsicum strudel with orange and dill anchoiade de Croze.

I opt for the main course of star anise-cured scotch fillet of Western Plains pork, lightly smoked and roasted in the outside wood oven with a green papaya, mango and apple salad.

We wander through the 0.4-hectare kitchen garden, then for dessert share some fresh figs with nectarines, liquorice labna and vanilla ice-cream and rich warmed Heidi Raclette with slowly-cooked quinces, casaba melon and quince paste.

Reviewed by Tricia Welsh who was hosted by Geelong Otway Tourism.

Sunnybrae, cnr Cape Otway and Lorne roads, Birregurra, 5236 2276. Open Sat-Sun for lunch, see www.georgebiron.com. To stay: nearby options include Elliminook Homestead (www.elliminook.com.au), Countrywide Cottages (www.countrywidecottages.com.au), King Parrot Cottages (www.kingparrot.com.au).

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