It's almost impossible to pick the most delicious region in Victoria, but no matter who you ask, Daylesford and Hepburn would definitely crack the top three. These rolling green farmlands arguably kickstarted country Victoria’s culinary renaissance, with establishments like The Lake House, Farmers Arms Hotel and Larder setting the bar for regional dining.

You're spoiled for choice up here, so we've narrowed the list slightly. These are 10 of the best places to eat in the Daylesford and Hepburn. Bon appetite.  

1. The Lake House

The Lake House has been wowing diners since 1984. It's a two-hatted restaurant set on the picturesque banks of Lake Daylesford, just across the water from The Boathouse (more on that one down below). The Lake House is not only the hottest foodie ticket in town, but there are 33 luxury rooms on-site. Book well ahead, though: this place fills up fast during peak season.

2. Larder

The title of 'Best Cafe in Daylesford' is hotly contested, but Larder has to be in the conversation. You can't miss this one: it's right on the main street (C141) as you drive in from the south. Just look for the crowds swarming over the outside tables. Larder runs a cracking all-day breakfast, and the Johnny's Chilli Scrambled Eggs are a definite stand out. There’s also a kids menu and rotating seasonal specials, sourced from the farms and market gardens around Daylesford.

3. Le Peche Gourmand

This one's not technically in Daylesford. It's in Creswick, which is an easy 20-minute drive down the road. We're including for it completeness, because Le Peche Gourmand might just be the best French boulangerie in central Victoria. Crusty baguettes, home-baked macaroons, sweet Sault (not a typo), the crown jewel of head chef Liam Scott. Sault is high-class seasonal dining at its best, and visitors can choose from either a three or four-course menu. Think beef tartare with confit egg yolk, fresh pork belly with sticky grilled figs, baked spuds spiked with garlic and rosemary, and a wine list to rival anything in Melbourne.

5. Wombat Hill House Cafe

Set amongst 120 acres of wilderness on the Ballan Daylesford Road, inside a gorgeous two-storey country house, surrounded by kitchen gardens and lazy bees, you'll find Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens. There you'll find one of the region’s most charming cafes: Wombat Hill House. This is a spin-off venue from Alla Wolfe-Tasker AM, of Lake House fame, so you know we’re dealing with no ordinary cafe. There's slow-fermented sourdough from the bake house, fresh produce from Dairy Flat Farm, gooey marmalade with grapefruit and lemon, crusty Reuben sandwiches, served with pickles and chips, and stone backed pizzas by the truckload.

6. Sweet Decadence at Locantro

Daylesford's first coffee house, and still one of its best, Sweet Decadence has been pumping out incredible chocolates for more than 30 years. We recommend dropping in during the afternoon, when it’s time to refuel with a pot of Earl Grey tea and a sweet treat from the cabinet. Try Daylesford Delight (white chocolate ganache with fruit and macadamia nuts) or the famous 'Milkshake' truffles (three layers of chocolate ganache in white, milk and dark). You can dine-in here, or grab a box of truffles to take away.

7. Kadota

Kadota is all about omotenashi, which means honest service and honest food. That's a pretty good description of Aaron Schembri and Risa Kadota's restaurant, but 'honest' might not be doing this food justice. The classic menu is $115 per person, and that includes six courses of delicate, beautifully prepared Japanese. Tender salmon with braised greens and poached daikon, Koji pork belly dumplings, osuimono soup with okra, shimeji and nori oil. It's Japanese cuisine dialled up to 11. You'll find Kadota on Camp Street, on the A300.

8. The Boathouse

With some of the best views in Daylesford, perched right out in the centre of the lake, The Boathouse is one of the best spots in town for a long lunch or fancy dinner.  Two courses will set you back around $75, and the menu shifts and changes with the seasons. One month it'll be gin-cured ocean trout with horseradish crème fraiche, and the next you'll get arancini with mushroom truffle oil. Book ahead to avoid disappointment.  

9. Hepburn Distillery

Award-winning potato vodka in the heart of Daylesford? You'll find it at Hepburn Distillery, home to some of the best vodkas, gins and schnapps in the region. The secret is the climate up here: the cold growing conditions and unique, mineral-rich soil of Hepburn produce some incredible spirits. We recommend trying the Bullarto strawberry gin, or the organic potato vodka, aged in oak casks.

10. Farmers Arms Hotel

There's no shortage of good pubs up here, but Farmers Arms Hotel was officially the first. The doors opened in 1857, and they haven't closed since. Swing by on a Friday or Saturday night and you'll find most of Daylesford, hanging out in the dining room, relaxing in the beer garden, or bending an elbow in the front bar.  Nearly all the food and booze here is locally sourced, and there's nine local beers on tap (including a Farmers Arms draught and a dark ale, brewed in-house).


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