New Year’s Day started much like many other years when you enjoy a few drinks to celebrate the beginning of a new year. In fact, Catherine had to cancel poached eggs and Istra bacon at Lake House! Somehow I managed to enjoy mine, went for a quick run later in the day, and encouraged her to venture out to try Frank and Connie’s Kitchen in Hepburn Springs.
The night before we had been lucky enough to sit next to owner and head chef, Caliopi, and her other half who works the floor, Abby. Hearing about the newly started venture we wanted to try for ourselves, and having some excellent (and familiar) restaurants on the CV, there was little doubt changing our original plans was a good idea.
A stone’s throw from Daylesford, Hepburn Springs has plenty to offer with quality accommodation and a growing quality of eateries, with Frank and Connie’s a testament to this. The restaurant is homely, with a very open kitchen overlooking a small number of tables inside and out. The comfortable feel translates to the menu, which focusses on good quality ingredients, big on flavour, but not over-embellished.
Having been recommended the lamb ribs the previous night we had already locked them in, and also ordered the fried southern chicken wings, and sides of roasted potatoes and a leafy salad. The lamb ribs duly arrived first, along with a chimichurri sauce. The punch of flavour in both the slowly cooked ribs, and green sauce, make for a classic combination that is done beautifully.
The wings are simply presented like the ribs, but are also packed with flavour in the crumb and are well cooked. The coleslaw is generous, and between those two aspects and the relish, there is a growing but pleasant heat. The roasted potatoes are delicious and certainly their inclusion on the menu is not as a filler, or an afterthought – they are a great dish in themselves. We were too full for dessert, but took the “Nana’s biscuits” home and were glad we did!
The fact that Frank and Connie’s is growing a great reputation is not surprising in the least. The food has the depth of flavour that only experience can achieve, served by surprisingly ‘with-it’ staff considering it is New Year’s Day, at very reasonable prices. The wine list is influenced by France, with a good spectrum of locals too, providing interesting drinking.
This is the type of place that must have locals thanking their lucky stars. There is a good chance they’ll be competing with plenty of spa country tourists going forward though. Given the restaurant is almost full early this evening we will be making a booking when we next visit!