The charms of Milton have lured many city folk. Alex and Jo Delly are two prominent examples. Chef Alex earned his stripes under Teague Ezard at his flagship Melbourne restaurant, and worked under Andrew McConnell and Matt Wilkinson at Circa before going bush to work as sous chef for Rick Stein.
These days, Alex and Jo have St Isidore, a clean-lined little restaurant looking out over rolling dairy pastures. The kitchen serves unfussy if eye-catching modern cuisine, sourcing much of the produce from its substantial garden. Lunch might start with smoked mussels, crème fraîche, pickled onion and a squid-ink cracker; or buttermilk-fried quail, preserved lemon, pomegranate, radish and melon.
Heartier mains include corned pork-neck, cauliflower, baby turnip, charred onion, Jerusalem artichoke, cider and mustard sauce; and locally caught John Dory, royal blue potato galette, oyster mushrooms, sea urchin butter and avruga caviar. For dessert, the pink lady apple and olive-oil cake with quince, tonka-bean ice-cream, almond and olive crumb should be compulsory for everyone who passes through the district.
It’s a decidedly polished experience, but it’s easy to relax on the back verandah with a bottle or two and the sun inching down behind the Budawang Ranges.