Af­ter much beaver­ing, Wolf-tasker’s Wom­bat emerges from the gar­den

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - MICHELLE ROWE

WITH Aus­tralian chef Skye Gyn­gell win­ning a Miche­lin star for a restau­rant in a Lon­don gar­den cen­tre and Matt Mo­ran open­ing a new eatery in Syd­ney’s Chiswick Gar­dens, there’s some­thing of a trend to­wards din­ing amid the dan­de­lions.

The lat­est pro­po­nent of gourmet food in a gar­den set­ting is Alla Wolf-Tasker of the award­win­ning Lake House just out­side Mel­bourne, who has been beaver­ing away cre­at­ing Wom­bat Hill House in the old care­taker’s cot­tage at Dayles­ford’s Wom­bat Hill Botanic Gar­dens.

The cafe, due to open within days, is a su­per-sleek space sport­ing an elab­o­rate mu­ral from Wolf-Tasker’s artist hus­band Al­lan, cosy arm­chairs by an open fire, a din­ing area cater­ing to a break­fast and lunch crowd and a cov­ered bar serv­ing Sun­day night aper­i­tivos.

‘‘Cafe menus will fol­low the phi­los­o­phy we’ve had for 28 years at Lake House: nat­u­ral, sea­sonal, lo­cal and or­ganic where pos­si­ble, but the cook­ing and pre­sen­ta­tion is much sim­pler,’’ Wolf-Tasker tells Food De­tec­tive.

‘‘The win­ter menu will in­clude sand­wiches and baguettes, warm­ing soups, plenty of com­fort food like my mother’s fab­u­lous meat­balls on mash, some rather posh pot pies and pasties, house­made char­cu­terie and daily spe­cials such as a chou­croute built around lo­cal cotechino, or a coq au vin.’’ The cafe, at the top of Wom­bat Hill, will have its own veg­etable patch and will also sell Wolf-Tasker’s Wolf in the Kitchen prod­ucts, and pic­nics to be en­joyed in the gar­dens. More: wom­bat­hill­house.com.

IF David Tsirekas’s mum’s filo pas­try is half as good as WolfTasker’s mother’s meat­balls and mash, then Syd­ney’s on to a good thing, too. Tsirekas, who has run Perama in the city’s in­ner west for 18 years, is one of a le­gion of high­pro­file chefs mov­ing into the new West­field Syd­ney food precinct and his out­let will be one of the most dis­tinc­tive yet. ‘‘It will look like some­thing out of the Byzan­tine pe­riod,’’ Tsirekas tells De­tec­tive of Xan­thi, open­ing on Au­gust 15. ‘‘My idea is to make it a real fun park for Greek food; I’ll be do­ing dif­fer­ent things that sym­bol­ise it through the ages, in­clud­ing fresh filo rolling daily. I’ve got the pas­try chef to work with my mother to learn how to do it.’’ Other ideas Tsirekas has up his sleeve are a Mediter­ranean high tea, tra­di­tional Greek break­fast and a ‘‘Sun­day re­cov­ery party for the young Greek kids who’ve been out par­ty­ing the night be­fore’’. De­tec­tive is in­trigued. Her idea of a Sun­day re­cov­ery is a lie-down in a dark room with a cold flan­nel over her face, but she’s sure Tsirekas has some­thing rather more ex­cit­ing up his sleeve. More: xan­thi.com.au.

JUST when De­tec­tive thought she’d got her head around con­cepts such as spher­i­fi­ca­tion and culi­nary foam, the food world throws an­other curve ball.

Not con­tent with in­stal­la­tions on the plate, Mel­bourne chef Shan­non Bennett has got in touch with his in­ner Dali and com­mis­sioned ‘‘three ma­jor site­spe­cific art­works’’ for his new Vue de Monde restau­rant in Mel­bourne’s Rialto Tower. The first cre­ation, by Aus­tralian artist Mikala Dwyer, will be trans­par­ent clouds sus­pended above the bar.

‘‘The plas­tic sculp­tures seem both or­ganic and hu­man made, con­tain­ing noth­ing and ev­ery­thing in their empty forms,’’ says Dwyer in a pub­lic­ity quote that De­tec­tive is still try­ing to make head or tail of. A ‘‘neon text work’’ by Amer­i­can artist Joseph Ko­suth, mean­while, will ex­plore ‘‘the con­trast­ing po­si­tions of Charles Dar­win and Friedrich Ni­et­zsche; na­ture and science; in­tu­ition and or­der’’, while Emily Floyd’s ‘‘liv­ing top­i­ary fig­ures’’ will ap­par­ently emerge over time from open-frame steel sculp­tures. De­tec­tive hasn’t been so alarmed by a col­li­sion of the food and arts worlds since Syd­ney chef Tony Bil­son sent out a bevy of young beau­ties in skirts sport­ing edible tid­bits at his Cui­sine Now fes­ti­val a cou­ple of years back and Lady Gaga turned up in a meat dress at a mu­sic awards do. What­ever hap­pened to a nice bit of flock wall­pa­per at the lo­cal In­dian? More: vuede­monde.com.au.

rowemi@theaus­tralian.com.au

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