Anything that Shannon Bennett and the Vue de monde restaurant group is behind is sure to impress. And the Piggery Cafe at Burnham Beeches is no exception. The state-of-the-art Burnham Bakery and the adjoining Piggery Café is part of Phase One of ‘Operation Burnham Beeches’ headed up by Shannon Bennett and his business partner Adam Garrison. It may not have the city views and impressive degustation menu of Vue de Monde but what it does have is gorgeous views, delicious food and plenty of character. And at only 45 minutes away from the city, you’ll feel like you’re a lifetime away.
Nestled in Sherbrooke in the Dandenong Ranges, the Piggery Cafe is housed in the 23-hectare Burnham Beeches estate (built-in 1934 by entrepreneur Alfred Nicolas), neighbouring the iconic art moderne mansion amongst towering mountain ash trees and blossoming flowers. Spring time is the perfect time to visit with the flowers in full bloom. The estate also has its own 500-tree trufferie, extensive vegetable gardens (which provides organic produce for the Vue Group restaurants) and a little piggery – home to two resident pigs, Bubble and Squeak.
With a rustic barn like atmosphere, the Piggery Café is lofty and spacious. There’s a sprawling alfresco area outside overlooking the lawn bowls, croquet and bocce pitches – perfect for sunny days. But on chilly days the heated terrace will keep you nice and toasty. The former piggery is full of quirk, warmth and charm. It has been revamped beautifully taking advantage of its lofty ceilings, exposed brick and polished concrete. Picnic goers can also stock up on tasty treats at the Burnham Bakery and roll out the picnic rug in their tranquil surrounds.
Sourcing sustainable and and ethically-caught produce is at the heart of their philosophy. Burnham Beeches is all about a “live to eat, not eat to live” type mantra.
On a sunny spring afternoon, we were quickly lured in by the smell of freshly baked breads and pastries. At 2.30pm we were just in time for their ‘Afternoon Delight’ afternoon tea. And at one sight of the sumptuous goodies at the counter, how could we possibly say no? The afternoon tea is well priced at $25.00 per person, including a platter of sweet and savoury dishes and your choice of tea or coffee. If you’re looking for a boozy option, a glass of prosecco is also optional for an additional $8.
Coffee is by Five Senses – one of my favorite blends. Five Senses procure their beans directly from brokers according to fresh crop and harvest cycles and relationships are also forged directly with the growers.
Plated on a rustic wooden board, the savoury plate was full of freshly baked goodies like eggy quiches, ocean trout topped sandwiches and arancini balls.
As expected it was the sweet plate that really got our heart. We couldn’t wait to tuck into their warm scones (available in both fruit and plain varieties). Of course jam first so you can top with more whipped cream.
Equally impressive were the caramel slice, raspberry filled jelly cake and, my favourite, the lavender infused lemon meringue pie.
While you’re up there, don’t forget to explore the Alfred Nicolas Memorial Garden. It’s home to the most impressive canopies of Mountain Ash Trees, a picturesque lake and even a quaint little boathouse. In spring the gardens are full of flowering azaleas, cherry trees and viburnum.
A 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke VIC 3789
T (03) 9021 2100
I was kindly invited as a guest to the Piggery Cafe. All views are honest and my own.