It takes just over an hour to get to Kyneton by car. A good drive on the Calder Freeway north of Melbourne takes you to the small town in no time and it's certainly worth a visit. In the last five years, Kyneton has been gaining more attention for decent restaurants and a burgeoning culinary sensibility, but the last two years has witnessed an undeniable boom, with the main drag of Piper Street growing exponentially with a host of new businesses. We set off to explore the historical town and found a few gems that are worth adding to your weekender list.
A cavernous room in what was once an iceworks (where one bought ice for their ice box pre-refrigerator) and more recently an organic cafe, Mr Carsisi is a restaurant built around the staples of good local produce and strong Turkish and Middle Eastern flavours. Owners Clare and Matt Fegan are a hospitality couple who understand their town and its visitors, offering a good range of mezze plates – insanely good hummus, plump fried calamari with black olives or a zesty tomato, mint and red onion salad with goat’s feta – as well as generous mains and desserts rich in flavours such as orange blossom, cinnamon, pistachio and rosewater.
37c Piper Street, Kyneton
(03) 5422 3769
Source Dining (formerly Annie Smithers Bistrot)
Formerly Annie Smithers Bistrot, Source Dining has opened this June with the same ethos of producing a unique dining experience through its extensive supply list of local producers. Buying items from surrounding artisans, such as Istra and Holy Goat, and foraging ingredients from its own garden, Source’s dishes fluctuate with the seasons to present a constantly evolving menu.
72 Piper Street, Kyneton
The Royal George Hotel
The Royal George is the right place for a quiet ale at the bar or a longer meal in the old-school dining room. Focusing on local produce and wines, and presenting them in a classic environment, this restaurant is five years old and has been owned by Neil Henson and Jim Lekakis for the last two and a half. The pair have created a thoughtfully structured winelist that highlights local wines and supports a menu based on classic French technique and undeniably local ingredients.
24 Piper Street
(03) 5422 1390
Kyneton Ridge Estate
One of the best wineries in the region, Kyneton Ridge Estate’s cellar door now boasts three award-winning labels. Stop by to enjoy panoramic views from the main homestead all the way to Castlemaine, or hustle down to the cafe where you can try before you buy a glass of its 2010 shiraz alongside a homemade cake, or gourmet pizza.
90 Blackhill Road, Kyneton
Dhaba at the Mill
Forward-thinking couple Jennifer and Jessi Singh opened Dhaba at the Mill two years ago. An Indian restaurant with Punjabi-native Jessi in the kitchen and New Yorker Jennifer on the floor, Dhaba is a great balance of self-expression with strong regard for place. The former flourmill still holds many features and objects that pay respect to its former life, but the kitchen is bursting with a perfume of cumin, chilli, coriander, garlic and onion. They have also set up a food truck from Thursdays to Sundays in Woodend, which is being warmly embraced by the community.
18 Piper Street
(03) 5422 6225
The Redesdale Hotel
Drive 20 minutes up the road from Kyneton and you’ll come to Redesdale. The pub greets you as you hit town – you can’t miss the old bluestone building – and owners Suzie and Peter Williams have created an oasis complete with petanque patch, outdoor dining and drinking and a private dining or meeting room, with plans to eventually convert the old stables into a local provedore. The pub itself features an elegant dining room, while the bar (part of the original building) has been restored to its rustic glory. Chef Phil Gaby has created an approachable menu and this is a must-stop spot.
2640 Kyneton-Heathcote Road, Redesdale
(03) 5425 3111
Pizza Verde’s wood-fired pizza establishment is a favourite among locals, and even draws visitors from surrounding local towns. Choose from the crowd-favourite funghi pizza-bianco, topped with roasted field mushrooms, tallegio, and caramelised onion, or the namesake Verde with zucchini, whipped ricotta, and provolone. And throw in a side of roasted polenta wedges with Gorgonzola, because you know you want to.
62 Piper Street, Kyneton
(03) 5422 7400
Mara Szoeke opened two years ago in an old butcher shop (the former butcher, now 91, lives next door) and has found her inner biscuit in a simple shop that is adamant about organic and biodynamic produce where possible as well as well-made coffee.
34 Piper Street, Kyneton
(03) 5422 1129
On the way home, drop into craft-beer brewers Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend. Since its humble beginnings in a Victorian couple’s backyard, Holgate beer is brewed, bottled and kegged in Woodend from natural (mostly local) ingredients to create a product that is unique to the area. The real-deal product is served straight to the public in the brewhouse, just up the road from the 19th-century, red-brick brewery in the Woodend High Street.
79 High Street, Woodend
Piper St Food Co.
Damian Sandercock sold his pizza shop down road and opened the Piper Street Food Company in 2010 to follow his dream of creating quality terrines, rillettes, pates, parfaits and pies, among other products, by hand from local ingredients. Sandercock’s very specific recipes will delight. With the addition of a cafe and bakery section late in 2014, Piper Street Food Co. is now a magnet for locally crafted deli products and baked goods. Roam the charcuterie shelves with a steaming espresso in one hand and a pastry in the other.
89B Piper Street, Kyneton
(03) 5422 3553
Frank and Melissa Moylan, who owned the former The Crimean in North Melbourne, owned and operated The Royal George until its current owners moved in. They have since set up Kabinett, which is choc-a-block with unique furniture and homewares from around the world.
66 Piper Street, Kyneton
(03) 5422 6695
Long Story Short
Enough to bring a tear to the eye of Gen X’s and older, Long Story Short is a second-hand book and music store with vinyl, CDs and tomes galore. Climb up the stairs to a den of nostalgia and great finds.
58-60 Piper Street, Kyneton
(03) 5422 2909
Right on Piper Street, you can’t get any closer to the action than this comfy apartment. It’s part of the shop Macedon Range Interiors but there’s a separate entrance.
61A Piper Street, Kyneton
(03) 5422 1211
Just around the corner is Babette’s. A free-standing, three-bedroom house that got a generous backyard, kitchen and fireplace. This is an ideal family or group set-up and is literally half a block from the action of Piper Street.
59 Ebden Street, Kyneton
Kyneton has many spectacular Airbnb accommodation options. From a secluded bush retreat in Yandoit, a short drive away, to the colonial weatherboard Ellis House, Kyneton and its surrounds is one of Victoria’s most authentic oases.
If you’re thirsty from all the perusing and picnicking in this rural food haven, fill up your drink bottle at Kyneton mineral springs and head home via Turpins Falls to enjoy the last of the country calmness before the rush of the big smoke envelopes you once again.
Updated as of June 2015.
This article is presented by V/Line.