What to order at Farmer's Daughters

Published on 8 February 2021

Photo: Corner Inlet whiting, jupiter turnip and nettle pesto (credit: Thom Rigney)

The inside word on the menu at the “embassy for Gippsland” from Farmer’s Daughters chef, Alejandro Saravia.

While a great many chefs praise the quality of Gippsland’s produce, Alejandro Saravia takes that a step further. The Peruvian-born chef has hosted a series of events and pop-ups in the region over the last four years under the Farmer’s Daughters banner; now he’s planting the flag for Gippsland’s top producers in the Melbourne CBD, opening a restaurant that’s singular in its focus on the region. Saravia describes Farmer’s Daughters as a three-storey “embassy for Gippsland in the heart of Melbourne”, with a rooftop bar and garden, fine-dining restaurant and casual venue in the space at 80 Collins Street, along with a deli and grocer stocking products from the region. Saravia talks us through his pick of the dishes and drinks at the new venue.

How about a drink?
The must-have cocktail is our Farmer’s Collins. It’s made with our exclusive vermouth that we created with Maidenii using native ingredients grown in Gippsland by The Outback Chef, Jude Mayall, wormwood grown by Maidenii and grapes that we sourced from Heathcote. Aged in sweet vermouth hogshead barrels, it’s quite the unique product due to the inclusion of lemon tea-tree. For the Farmer’s Collins, we add pink grapefruit, house-made elderflower liqueur and a touch of lime, and serve it with cucumber and soda. Head up to our rooftop and have one; it’s light, refreshing and the perfect summer sipper.

What if I’m here for a good time rather than a long time?
Take a seat in our dining room on the ground floor and start with our signature Farmer’s Daughters Gippsland Vermouth, served on ice with a slice of dried orange. If vermouth’s not your thing, we have plenty of Gippsland wine. To eat, I’d recommend the Corner Inlet school whiting with jupiter turnip and a nettle pesto. Get some of our bread on the side and don’t skimp on the cultured butter from St David Dairy, who get all their milk from Gippsland.

Got anything light and fresh?
Our cured Baw Baw alpine trout served with mountain-pepper cream and salted cucumber would be my pick. It’s a classic pairing of trout with dill and tangy cream, and everything just sings. Add a serve of the marinated summer vegetables for a nice and light meal. We get the vegetables from Cafresco Organics and pair them with green olive mayonnaise.

I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
Our set menus on offer at the restaurant on the second floor include a vegetarian version which heroes seasonal vegetables from Gippsland. We are working closely with Cafresco Organics in Koo Wee Rup on crafting this delicious meat-free alternative menu. Some of the highlights are the heirloom tomatoes with Snowy River Station seagrass and eggplant cooked over the campfire with green olives and smoked tomato paste.

Name the dish that is quintessentially Farmer’s Daughters.
Over the last three years of Farmer’s Daughters, we’ve explored a range of dishes at our pop-ups and events, refining them and experimenting with different ways of showcasing ingredients from the region. In 2019, we roasted a whole cow for Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s River Graze event, emphasising whole-animal cooking to reduce food waste. From this, we created our signature beef pastrami. We’ve refined this concept for the venue launch, serving Bass Strait beef-cheek pastrami rolls on a damper bun with grilled kale and horseradish cream.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
Our Summer Getaway seven-course set menu would be my pick. Served in the restaurant, it includes a generous selection of seasonal favourites, such as Lakes Entrance crudo with herb oil and lemon verbena powder, grilled Bass Strait beef striploin with purple broccoli and Mirboo garlic, and a chocolate tart made with Cuvee’s 65 per cent and served with a dollop of crème fraîche.

And to close?
The Tambo Valley orange blossom honey custard with cider caramel – best enjoyed with another glass of our signature Gippsland Vermouth, of course.

Farmer’s Daughters, open Wed-Sat. 80 Collins St, Melbourne, (03) 9116 8682, farmersdaughters.com.au.


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