At Sea Zen we are often asked for our recommendations on places to visit, and Bespoke Harvest at Forrest is right up at the top.
The old Guesthouse hides an amazing food experience inside.
There is a set menu of about 6 courses, all from amazing seasonal local produce.
The menu can change from week to week over the seasons as the local products are at their best. You never know what you will get, but after many visits we are yet to be disappointed. The amazing chef Simon Stewart creates a series of small dishes, each more interesting than the one prior, often using new harvest straight from the garden.
We started with local olives and local olive oil with fresh cooked bread including one of local spelt. Then a series of small teaser dishes including haloumi and fennel, gummy croquettes and aioli, brussel sprouts and tarator, lentils raisins and fermented cabbage. Each of these dishes was a new discovery for the tastebuds!
On one visit we had a main of pork shoulder slow cooked till it fell apart, on another visit it was roast chicken with burned cauliflower and almonds, and both times a selection of vegetables and herbs from the garden.
Desert was lemon delicious and some tasty morsels that go well with coffee, including turkish delight, fairy floss, honeycomb and more. I like variety, and I wasn’t disappointed!
Owner and host Emma has a warm and relaxed welcome, and you feel as if you have known her for years. Part of the charm is the description of each course and where the ingredients are sourced from locally.
Lunch was around $55 per head, local wines extra, and I usually call prior to book a table and check times. There is an outside garden area and the rejuvenated guesthouse is still operating. bespokeharvest.com.au
Some folks experience ultra fine dining at world class ‘Brae’ nearby, with a price to match. But for me, Bespoke Harvest is ideal – fabulous value for money and a delightful overall experience.
Another part of the Bespoke Harvest experience is the journey. First the winding drive from Wye River to Skenes Creek on what I think is the best part of the great Ocean Road, high cliffs and rugged headlands near Cape Patton.
Then the road winds up through the forest, with tall mountain ash trees and ancient trees that sag over the road with clingy ferns on the branches. Views over Barwon Reservoir and then farms and finally the old timber town of Forrest itself.
In June 2016 I took my two sons and their partners to Forrest and we all enjoyed the experience. We had a beer sampler at Forrest Brewery a few doors up , and then lunch at Bespoke Harvest. For variety we came back to Separation Creek via Pennyroyal and Lorne. That is also a fabulous trip through rolling farmland, forest and then another stretch of spectacular clifftop road to Separation Creek.
Sometimes the best experiences are on our own doorstep without even knowing!
Rex Brown, Sea Zen, 2016.
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