The Argus Dining Room, Hepburn Springs

To say a gastronomic experience like no other awaits you at what is commonly called The Argus is an understatement.

Some of the most incredible food, served by what have proven themselves to be some of the most incredible kitchen and wait staff, accompanied by wines that have proven themselves some of the most perfect to drink with such a menu is only beginning to scratch the surface of what The Argus Dining Room has to offer.

Since its revamp of about 10 years now, The Argus has done well in cementing its place as not only a local favourite amongst Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and Macedon Ranges locals, but big city dwellers from Melbourne, also.

The spread of the 50s purpose-built hotel is as enchanting as the inconspicuous name, but it’s what is inside and the people behind it that really bring the stunning elegantly rural themed hotel to life.

The menu plays on flavours and inspiration from the hotel’s own farm, Vale Hill, outside of Daylesford. This in itself allows the menu to circulate wholly around seasonal produce, quality meats that have been reared by the farmsmen themselves and flavours that are wholly unique, Australian and contemporary, all the while served in an historic setting.

The interior works of the hotel are some fine examples of Australian interiors designer Stuart Rattle (now deceased), whose determination to bring the exclusivity of the feel of a rural club back into the hotel. High back chairs, velvet textures, leather sofas and enough art hanging from the walls to keep the most avid art lover analysing for hours bring life into the hotel.

Sitting down at the intimately spaced and moody lit table, an onslaught of some of the most delicious food available in the rural township of Hepburn Springs made its way onto the table.

A soupçon of rice crackers, suger-rolled rhubarb and citrus flavoured beer shots, followed by a complimentary daikon roll in daikon sauce begun the firing of the tastebuds, all perfectly concocted and created to truly allow the Asian-inspired flavours sing.

An entree of rainbow trout, fermented red cabbage, onion and apple on a dollop of creme fraiche followed; raw, but flavoursome and working harmoniously with its accompanying garnishes and flavour combinations.

The Argus Dining Room Hepburn Springs trout entree-1

The Argus Dining Room Hepburn Springs daikon roll-1

It dawned on us immediately that sharing one wasn’t enough, until we realised the rest of the kitchen’s contents that awaited us.

Mains served of teriyaki marinated wagyu beef with lightly fried onion ringlets, pickled mustard, bresaola and garden greens almost literally sent shivers down the spine.

The smell coming off the plate was at another level. The presentation, flawless and the additional options of the vegemite and butter smothered cabbage and pea salad along with cauliflower and cheese croquettes  completed the meal.

The Argus Dining Room Hepburn Springs wagyu-1

Placed so delicately next to the snapper, fried egg with soy butter, squid and book choy, dinner was outstanding. The distinct lack of a ‘fishy’ taste in the snapper indicated it was as fresh as one could have a quarter of the way inland from Victoria’s coastline.

With a subtle siding of compressed cucumber in gelatinous green cubes that were some of the most notable textured, coloured and flavoured garnishes on a plate I’ve seen in a while, the meal was perfect.

The Argus Dining Room Hepburn Springs snapper-1

All the while accompanied by sommelier-selected wines from both Australia and abroad that were chosen to complement the flavours of the meals, it all went down easily. Cabernet sauvignon by Silent Way and a novel organic Italian variety eased alongside the entree, while Australian pinot noir and and an Italian Shiraz with a name as long as a finger ramped-up the weight of dinner.

One of dessert’s only outstanding options featured most prominently caramelised banana with vanilla ice-cream, crumbed with dehydrated chocolate crumbs, dark chocolate wafer and gold flecked dark chocolate shards, surrounded subtly by avocado and caramel dollops.

The Argus Dining Room Hepburn Springs dessert-1

Words literally can’t express how delicious that was.

Needless to say, The Argus Dining Room knows quality, exudes elegance and personifies (though it’s a building) gastronomy.

The menu compiled by head chef David Willcocks is to be revelled in; even if you’re not the most food-orientated of people, to experience the service, food and wine available at The Argus is something that has to be done once in a lifetime.

Have a look at The Argus’ website here – theargusdiningroom.com.au

Phone them on 03 5348 4199 for reservations.

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James Banham
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James Banham

Editor at THE F
James Banham is an Australian lifestyle, fashion and entertainment journalist. His writing can be found on these many topics and more in print and online publications around the country.
James Banham
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