– By Sam Anderson, Chef at Forage on the Foreshore, Port Campbell
As a chef on the Great Ocean Road, I love seeing visitors discover the fresh, hearty and unique flavours of the region in winter. There is so much on offer with a plethora of local producers really setting a new standard of food & drink that people are willing to travel miles for.
From fresh seafood to home-made pasta and braised meats, the region’s food and drink menus begin to evolve during the cooler months, showcasing seasonal local produce that delivers a truly sensory dining experience.
When the rain clouds roll in, you’ll easily find a roaring fire, or a table with an ocean view to retreat to; while you take the time to slowly devour a delicious meal and share stories with friends.
Here’s my suggested food and drink trail between Melbourne and Port Campbell:
I’ve just added this premium craft gin to the drinks menu at my cafe Forage on the Foreshore. The Split Point Navy Strength Gin took out first place at the 2019 Australian Gin Awards and is packed with intense flavors of citrus, juniper and local coastal botanicals including salt bush, hop wattle, local honey and kelp. This approach to making gin is all about celebrating & embracing the natural surroundings of the region, which is also reflected in their modern and relaxed tasting room and garden. Well worth calling in for tasting if you’re travelling through Aireys.
Chris has been serving up fine Southern European and Middle Eastern influenced dishes for nearly 40 years now. His iconic restaurant is nestled high amongst magnificent gum trees in the foothills of the Otways overlooking Bass Strait. A culinary master of the Great Ocean Road food scene and beyond, Chris continues to attract diners who appreciate an elevated dining experience. You’ll find the freshest and best quality seafood here without a doubt, so make sure you make time to treat yourself to a very special lunch or dinner.
Apollo Bay is the only place on the Great Ocean Road that still brings in seafood caught fresh from local waters. From Southern Rock Lobster to Bass Strait Flake, The Fisherman’s Coop is the place to hit up if you want to get your hands on some fresh or cooked seafood. I love taking the family along for lunch or dinner and settling into the restaurant for a couple of hours overlooking the local harbor to watch the boats come in. If you fancy going out for fish yourself, the coop can also provide fuel and bait too.
If you’re a boutique beer lover and have opted to spend a couple of nights in Apollo Bay, make sure you head inland to the Forrest Brewing Company (45 minute drive). In what used to be the town’s general store, this rustic little pub has a terrific choice of craft beers including pale and stout and an Irish Red. It’s a really a charming, warm & friendly place with a great breakky, lunch and dinner menu packed with dishes made using locally sourced produce. Make sure you try the beer-infused gelato – it’s truly amazing.
At our café right on the beach, we’re equally as committed to sourcing local ingredients for our customers. Our home-made gnocchi has become a bit of a signature dish in the region. It’s light, fluffy and we change up the sauce according to what mother nature has in season – such as the wild mushrooms that we forage ourselves during winter. If you want to invest in some art to commemorate your coastal trip, we have some beautiful works for sale from local artists adorning the walls.
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawuurung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Ancestors, past present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.