The quaint rural hamlet of Birregurra, an easy 90-minute drive from Melbourne, is the unlikely home to Brae, one of the world’s great restaurants. The team at Acacia recently had the pleasure of experiencing the degustation menu with matching wines and add to the rapturous and accelerating chorus of praise that has been heaped upon the restaurant since its opening in late 2013.

Brae won the coveted number one position at the Financial Review’s Australia’s Top Restaurants awards, with Brae co-owner and chef Dan Hunter also crowned Australia’s Top Chef. This follows just weeks after Brae was awarded number 44 at the World’s Top 50 Restaurants awards. Billed as the Olympics of food and voted by the world’s greatest chefs and food critics, cracking the top 50 of these prestigious awards elevates Hunter to a leading light on the world’s gastronomic stage.

The restaurant itself is a delightful 150-year old weatherboard cottage set in a stunning rural landscape and surrounded by an expansive and productive kitchen garden. Its sleek contemporary interior exudes luxury and is totally befitting of a restaurant of this stature. On this winter’s day an indelible memory was the warm glow of sunlight streaming through the restaurant windows highlighting the culinary artwork.

So how was the food? In a word, unforgettable! Creative, pure flavours subtly evoking Australia through clever use of native ingredients and pristine locally sourced produce.

The 12-course degustation started with exquisite smaller dishes such as black lip abalone presented in a crisp wafer of Jerusalem artichoke resembling a shell and barbecued beetroot with Brae farm honeycomb and rainbow trout roe. The real artistry lies with the clever blending of flavours and an element of surprise when a dish is placed before you and you taste your first mouthful.

Larger dishes such as crayfish and shitake with egg yolk, meat broth, and seaweeds and short rib of beef cooked overnight with grilled cabbage and fermented and fried onions were memorable and richly satisfying. We opted for the paired wines which is highly recommended. A selection of interesting local and imported wine, beer, and sake perfectly complemented the dishes.

Dessert highlights included a surprising deep-fried parsnip shell delicately housing an apple-and-parsnip mousse and sprinkled with freeze-dried apple – a technical and innovative dish that perfectly capped off the meal of the year.

Special mention must also be made of the impeccable service by the front of house team. They perfectly strike the balance between charm, friendliness, and professionalism. You can really detect their total investment in the passion and philosophy of Hunter himself.

We can highly recommend this pinnacle culinary experience to all our guests. With Brae just a short detour off the breathtaking Great Ocean Road, why not make a weekend of it? It would be our absolute pleasure to incorporate Brae in to an itinerary tailored just for you.