Acre is part urban farm – with a whopping 2500 square metres of agricultural land – and part home-style eatery, all set on the roof of ecologically responsible shopping centre Burwood Brickworks.
Fruits and vegetables grow in large garden plots all over the roof, housed in planter boxes and a hydroponic greenhouse. Jerusalem artichokes, eggplants, pumpkins, tomatoes, blood oranges and beetroot are just some of the 60 types of produce grown here, while inside the greenhouse there are over 11,000 leafy greens, herbs and micro-greens. There’s also a vertical strawberry garden, and even a quail coop.
One of these plots is lined with budding flowers and leads to the restaurant. Executive chef Brad Simpson spent weeks travelling around the state speaking with farmers and producers to better understand their processes and food-growing ethos. He combines their produce with that of the rooftop to create a homely sharing menu that highlights the freshness of his ingredients – and leaves as little waste as possible.
You’ll see that philosophy in dishes such as spaghetti with soft, charred eggplant, topped with fresh chilli, mint and caramelised walnuts; and in the slow-roasted pork, comes with apple puree and a fennel and lovage slaw.
Elsewhere on the menu there’s a Port Phillip Bay snapper crudo dressed with horseradish and citrus zest, juice and pulp; a whole free-range chicken, roasted then broken down and served with kale and garlic salsa and a wedge of lemon; and a tart of tomato and caramelised onion with handmade burrata.
Wines are all Victorian, and the glasshouse cafe serves Proud Mary coffee, Turkish delight and halva milkshakes, and refreshing teas and spritzes – such as turmeric, orange and ginger, and lemon, honey and paprika. Sip yours inside the restaurant, with its large windows, timber fittings and warm farmhouse vibe, or head to an outdoor table that overlooks the sprawling farm. You can also order a takeaway picnic hamper for two, filled with local cheese, bagels, mini-sandwiches and a salad.