Thanks to Visit Ballarat, Gastrology was back in Ballarat onece again for another weekend away to celebrate Plate Up Ballarat - an exciting month-long event celebrating Ballarat’s wonderful food offerings, craft beers, boutique wines and a whole lot more. Taking place throughout the month of May 2019, Plate Up Ballarat will showcase local producers whilst also promoting successful and supportive connections between producers, restaurants and cafes.
Continuing the theme of sustainability, this year introduces Plant Up Ballarat with many venues and events focusing on plant based eating, and the indelible link between nutrition and wellness.
After last year’s successful inaugural event, this year, more than 50 events will run throughout the month of May 2019. Here’s what we got up to over the weekend…
11AM - Check into Ballarat Premier Apartments
Ballarat Premier Apartments is housed within a Heritage Listed building constructed in 1901.
We thoroughly enjoyed our second time staying in one of their beautifully appointed suites. The room featured high ceilings with crystal chandeliers, kitchenette facilities, LED TV/DVD and Wi-Fi.
Location: 2 Lyons Street S, Ballarat Central
Phone: (03) 5332 1003
12PM - Lunch at The Forge Pizzeria
The maestros of the Ballarat pizza scene. If you are looking for quality pizzas of the gourmet kind, this pizzeria should be at the top of your list.
The restaurant possesses a polished industrial feel which retains a warm and familial character.
The menu is grounded in strong Italian heritage whilst introducing some innovative menu items and spins on classic dishes. The appeal of Forge Pizzeria lies in its use of local and quality produce.
To start we loved spinach and ricotta raviolo served with a decadent sage and burnt butter sauce.
For mains the pizzas were stunning. The Shearers was a crowd pleaser, containing smoked Mozzarella, slow cooked Western Victorian lamb, Meredith goat cheese, rosemary, garlic, spinach, red onion and finished with a sprinkle of pine nuts.
The luscious melt in your mouth and very generous morsels of lamb were delectable and made a worthy contribution to the pizza.
Location: 14 Armstrong Street North, Ballarat
Phone: (03) 5337 6635
1:30PM - Made of Ballarat Marketplace
We loved visiting the Made of Ballarat Marketplace which showcased Ballarat’s undercurrent of creativity, productivity and craftsmanship .
The market features a unique blend of local artisans and producers selling their wares under one roof at the historic Ballarat Mining Exchange.
There are also a series of workshops throughout the day, including Tuki Trout Farm, Salt Kitchen Charcuterie, 1816 Bakery and Backyard Beekeeping Ballarat.
Location: Ballarat Mining Exchange, 12 Lydiard St North, Ballarat
2PM - Peter Ford Catering – Canape Demonstration
One of the workshops as part of Made Of Ballarat Marketplace, guests watched in awe as Peter put together one of his signature canapés featuring Sher Wagyu beef, Asian flavours and deliciousness. We loved learning and watching attentively as Peter took guests through the steps in prepping and presenting one Peter Ford Catering’s most popular and sought-after canapé.
5.30PM Afternoon Drink at The Lost Ones Basement Bar
Secretly tucked inside an alley way, The Lost Ones Basement Bar is an absolute gem. Originally the Masonic Temple's dining hall, the venue is moody and is the perfect backdrop for enjoying your favourite tipple. Whatever you do, make sure you try their amazing selection of Scotch. One of the very few bars in Victoria that are a Scotch Malt Whisky Society partner bar, the venue boasts an impenetrable list of interesting whiskies. It’s the perfect opportunity to appreciate some single cask, single malt whiskies.
Location: 14 Camp Street, Ballarat Central
Phone: (03) 4343 1754
7PM - Dinner at The Pub with Two Names
Set within the historic bluestone building (formerly known as the Royal Highlander Hotel (1878-1962) and the Peter Lalor Hotel (1962-2014)), PWTN is a modern restaurant and grill which proudly sources high quality produce and boast a stunning wine selection.
We loved tasting our way through the menu. To start we loved the crispy calamari. Think thick crispy chickpea batter encasing tender rings of calamari tossed with chilli and coriander and served with luscious pimento mayo and lime.
The pan fried halloumi was similarly delicious and served with besan tempura broccolini, creamy sumac yoghurt and herbs.
For the main affair the crispy skin salmon fillet was beautiful. Cooked to perfection, the salmon went perfectly with a charred medley of vegetables, slightly tart pomegranate dressing, puffed buckwheat, sweet potato crisps and hommus.
A visit to PWTN would of course be incomplete without one of their steaks. Displaying a mastery in the manner the steak was cooked, the inch thick cut of scotch fillet was cooked perfectly from end to end. A good searing ensured that the steak was lined with a thin crisp layer packed with caramelised beef flavour.
Our visit to PWTN concluded on a theatrical note with the restaurant’s take on the classic bombe Alaska - A bomb of vanilla gelato and tequila lime sorbet, raspberry pate with torched swiss meringue and caramel sauce. Just yum!
Relaxed dining where locals and visitors can wine and dine in a quirky art centric space, the PWTN is a real gem.
Location: 331 Mair St, Ballarat Central
Phone: (03) 4373 2432
9AM - Breakfast at Hydrant Food Hall
After a little sleep in, we venture out for brunch. A mere hop and skip away from the Ballarat Premier Apartments, Hydrant Food Hall has succeeded in crafting a convivial atmosphere in which to enjoy a lazy weekend brunch. The ambience is wonderful – bright, airy and wonderfully casual. Most importantly, friendly and hospitable wait staff will be at your service throughout your meal.
Coffee is brilliant and poured by adept baristas. On the food front, the brunch options are interesting and absolutely delicious. Think Moroccan Chicken Salad
With couscous, dates, crispy chickpeas, fresh herbs, spiced yoghurt and parmesan crisp and a cheeky take on the smashed avo - Seed and sprout bread topped with mashed avocado, beetroot dip, tabouli, halloumi and seeds.
Location: 3 McKenzie Street, Ballarat
Phone: 0478 638 202
12.30PM Hop Temple – Blues, Brews & Boilermakers
The Boilermaker masterclass took guests on a journey of whiskey and beer by the Hop Temple brewsmiths where we discussed and drank our way through delicate matchings of Beer and Whiskey to show how these two work oh-so-perfectly together.
Local producers showcased included Black Cat Truffles and Holgate Brewery.
Location: 24 – 28 Armstrong St North, Ballarat VIC 3350
Phone: 03 5337 6635
1:45PM Lunch at Kittelty’s
Sometimes food is just about comfort, and there is nothing more comforting than a classic toastie. But be prepared for some creative spins on old classics as part of Toast of Ballarat! We loved Kittelty’s Lemon Almond Chicken Toastie created for Toast of Ballarat. Truly gratifying and satisfying!
Location: 40 Lydiard St N, Ballarat
Phone: 03 5332 7157
5:30PM Dinner at Lola’s
For our last stop, the stellar team at Lola restaurant treated us to a relaxing evening.
Head Chef, Shaun Thomson designed a beautiful four course menu which showcased his passion for the unique bounty of the region and showcased the best of Autumnal produce. Every course was perfectly matched with wines.
To start we loved the luxurious cauliflower veloute with chorizo, smoked egg yolk and truffle oil.
The next dish of burrata was similarly delicious. A ball of unadulterated burrata was paired with silky pumpkin and sage crème, compressed pumpkin, pepitas and burnt butter crumble. When the outer solid mozzarella shell was cut, we loved how the creamy interior of soft, stringy curd and fresh cream revealed itself. The sumptuously rich yet sensibly balanced flavours were sensational.
For mains the ravioli was beautiful. Al dente pasta sheets encased melt in your mouth pulled confit duck leg and had been tossed with local foraged mushrooms and chestnut.
Dessert time showcased the kitchen’s versatility with a modern take on the pavlova. We loved Lola’s take on this classic. Think Buninyong spiced quince, crispy meringue, luscious mascarpone, O’Toole’s honey and dehydrated yoghurt. Just yum.
Location: 121 Lydiard St North, Ballarat
Phone: 03 5331 3399