Not all the thrills in the Snowy Mountains are found on rocky ridges or inside dark caves – some come served on a plate. The region is home to a burgeoning food scene that celebrates local producers and seasonal ingredients. You’ll never go hungry if you know where to look. These are some of the names cooking up a storm.
Big-city cafe atmosphere comes to the mountains at CBD. It’s an acronym for Coffee, Beats, Drinks, and that’s precisely what you’ll find in this dimly lit hideaway gem in the middle of Jindabyne.
Owner Kris McKenna moved from Melbourne and opened CBD here in 2012 with the motto “life’s too short for bad coffee”. The grungy aesthetic and chalkboard walls would fit well into any Melbourne laneway, and the laid-back but quick service means the joint has become a hit with locals.
Savoury breakfast bagels are the speciality, and while it’s coffee and bagels by day, whisky takes over at night with more than 100 single malts lining the shelves. “We try to make it a welcoming place,” says McKenna. “A place to take some time out.”
When Scott Kraus and Sheridan Gill moved to Jindabyne in 2017 they noticed something was missing: there was no outlet for local food producers to sell their food. So they opened The Market in the Nuggets Crossing Shopping Centre, an organic food cafe that’s quickly become a popular community hub.
“We started because we are into organics and didn’t have an outlet to eat,” says Kraus. “We had to do something about it. We understand how important organic is. This is how our grandparents ate back in the day.”
Low food miles, low waste and all-organic is the name of the game here, with bulk bins providing nuts, seeds, dried fruit, muesli, choc almonds and more. Call in for a basket of fresh vegies and local honey and stay for a coffee, toastie or a burrito. Needless to say vegans are well catered for, and it’s not a bad place to pick up a gift to take home courtesy of local artists and craft makers.
Named after the birch trees that line the street, Birchwood prides itself on its sophisticated, filling breakfast and lunch menu. A neon sign on the wall says, “It was all a dream”, and it definitely is if your dreams involve coconut, pulled chicken and vermicelli salad or house-made black bean and pea falafels. Owners Tess Podger and Zac Hidding are committed to sourcing fresh, local ingredients (the menu changes seasonally and a rotating specials board keeps locals guessing), most sauces and relishes are made in-house, and nearly all menu items are available in a vegan or gluten-free version.
The décor of birch tables (of course), light-coloured timber, pot plants and warm lighting makes it a hard place to leave. “It’s a fun environment,” says Tess. “We love coming to work here and creating delicious dishes for our customers.”
Rose’s Lebanese Restaurant
A Cooma institution, Rose’s Lebanese Restaurant has been serving fresh, authentic Lebanese food for more than 15 years. “Everything we do is on the paddock to plate principle,” says owner Rebecca Nassar. “We stick to traditional Lebanese cuisine, we don’t go stuffing things up.”
While kebabs are the hot ticket at lunch, the Lebanese banquet is a great meal choice and perfect as a sharing plate. The lamb and chicken skewers are also the stuff of legend. Rose still rules the roost in the kitchen and says her secret ingredient is to cook with love. Hard to define but we’ll take it.
Cuisine at Lake Crackenback
If you’re the kind of person who insists on getting the window seat on the plane, Cuisine at Lake Crackenback is your kind of restaurant. The building juts out onto the lake that forms part of Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa, and the view is breathtaking – fine mountain dining at its best.
“The view is a bit distressing,” jokes head chef Marcus Held, “watching people cruise past on paddle boards and canoes while we’re working.”
Full table service complements Held’s very Australian menu, with roast duck ravioli, sumac lamb cutlets and oysters from Jigamy Farm, an Indigenous family business, all highly recommended. Held’s favourite? The mussels with creamy garlic and chive sauce, served with crusty sourdough.
Alpine Larder at Lake Crackenback
Another top dining option within Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa is Alpine, especially if you have a hankering for incredible pizza. It’s a causal, eclectic décor, and the room glows in the evening sun. There’s even outdoor benches to enjoy your pizza with a view across the resort.
Punters come from near and far to get a slice of anything chef Joel Smith pulls out of the woodfired oven. Meat lovers should try the Stockwhip (chicken, bacon, salami, onion, mushroom and smoky barbeque sauce), or the Chilli Moo (brisket, caramelised onion, sour cream, avocado, rocket and chilli). All bases can be made gluten free and vegetarian options are plentiful. If pizza isn’t your thing grab a steak or fish of the day. The beer matches the vibe perfectly, too (we recommends the Bent Spoke Crankshaft IPA).
While not strictly a destination you can walk into and eat at – only guests of the luxury hotel can dine in – Tinkersfield is the stuff country dreams are made of. Mountain luxury masked as rustic living.
The ridge-top setting of the restored post office, barn and field houses turned accommodation captures the history of Snowy Mountain hardship and farming subsistence, but without you needing to lift a finger. Completely self-contained, you can cook for yourself indoors or out (barbeque provided) or let Sonja and Warren cook you up a fine country meal. Wildlife walks (or hops) to your door, morning mist pools in the valley below and from your bathtub dusk fades to black and the stars burn sparks of silver on a deep purple sky.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination NSW.