SAULT RESTAURANT, Daylesford
Never before has a restaurant made me want to put on my best floral frock and frolick in the fields (I’m so not the floral-frolicker type) – nor has anywhere made my mind race, thinking of all of the future special occasions that I could possibly celebrate there. Never, until now. Never, until I discovered Sault in Daylesford. And hell, this place even incited an irrational urge in me to want to get married again (but I stress… only a mild urge – it’s probably something I’ve done too many times already – best stay sensible).
Sault is set on over 100 acres overlooking the Wombat State Forest, and it’s simply breathtaking – with its own lake, manicured gardens and lavender fields. It even has its own chapel that was built a couple of years ago, if you actually do feel like getting hitched.
It’s owned by couple Jodi Flockhart and Damien Aylward who actually got married there 11 years ago and a year later, ended up buying the property – a great story. The restaurant is in the gorgeous stone building with wooden floorboards, high ceilings and full length windows – perfect for admiring the view of the lake and countryside.
I discovered this place through Instagram – I was mesmerised by the food photos and knew I just had to get there. The food is prepared by a team led by head chef Santiago Nine-Fernandez (Santi). Santi and I soon became Insta-buddies and the rest is history. He hails from Galicia in Spain and started working in the kitchen at the young age of 14. His main inspirations are fresh produce, nature, old cookbooks and art – and his food is as delicious as it is beautiful.
The style of food is probably best described as Spanish modern Australian. There’s an a la carte menu or a tasting menu that changes every 6-8 weeks. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were up for a long leisurely lunch so we’d already decided to go the tasting menu, a menu that Santi describes as a ‘journey across Spain’, crafted from traditional Spanish gastronomy and inspired by ancient cookbooks and techniques, combined with a modern flair. It’s excellent value at just $85pp.
Menus are seasonal and there’s a firm commitment to local produce. Many of the herbs and vegetables are organically grown at Sault and what they don’t grow, the best from the surrounding region is sourced.
I’ll let the photos speak for themselves but what I will say is that everything’s prepared and cooked with the utmost care and respect, and plated with precision. Highlights for me were the Galician-style octopus – oh, so tender, also the spanner crab and king prawn tartar, the kangaroo with enoki mushrooms, and that amazing almond cake with fig and berries. Santi’s homage to tomato even made me like tomatoes – not usually my favourite thing! It was all so good.
Sault Restaurant really is the perfect destination for great food, great views and great service. It’s well worth travelling for, but I do wish I lived closer! Out of all of the restaurants that I’ve dined at around the country, this is definitely one of the standouts. I can’t wait to get back.