Bespoke Harvest, Forrest – The Otway Ranges

Bespoke Harvest, 16 Grant Street, Forrest – The Otway Ranges

Nestled between the fern gullies, dense hardwood forests, native scrubland and verdant farmland of the Otway Ranges hinterland lies the quaint hamlet of Forrest, home to Bespoke Harvest restaurant – where the food is as it must be in heaven.

A good cook is the peculiar gift of the gods. He must be a perfect creature from the brain to the palate, from the palate to the finger’s end. — Walter Savage Landor

Bespoke Harvest’s head chef, Simon Stewart, is so much more than Savage Landor’s ‘a good cook’. Simon is a Garden of Eden alchemist of all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small Otways seasonal and local – and a talent of remarkable humility.

Testament to Simon’s credo of seasonal, fresh and locally sourced, the menu at Bespoke Harvest is designed afresh at the dawn of every new day. You can be assured that what is delivered to your table has been dug up, picked and collected solely from neighbouring farms and producers and, of course, the Bespoke Harvest garden plots that surround this unique property.

Bespoke is a forager, paddock-to-plate fascination. Welcome to the Hope Diamond in the crown of the Otway Harvest Trail. This charming weatherboard homestead has an unassuming, much-loved heritage farmhouse hygge about it. There is no pretence here, despite the rapidly growing media attention and interest.

Owner, Emma Ashton, ushered us inside with a welcoming smile and genuine warmth reserved for long lost family. The attention to detail and table continued throughout our visit – simply faultless; unsurpassable.

Shared offerings of deliciousness and delight are delivered to the table, along with a fascinating dissertation about the local origins of all ingredients. We were told the quinces used in our divine dessert were from heavily laden trees lining the driveway to a local chook farm ‘just down the road a bit’.

The Otway Harvest Trail region is bursting with walnut and olive farms; organically farmed fruits and vegetables; grains and legumes; artisan cheeses and dairy produce; homemade condiments and delicacies; ethically grown beef, pork and lamb – and not to be overlooked – award-winning wine, cider and beer.

All in all, My Surf Coast Life & Co devoured eight tasting plates of ambrosia. Simon’s self-determined menu du jour was presented to us on arrival, and we were more than content to go along for the ride. Such a treat to be attended to and served in this way – no hemming and hawing; just excited anticipation for what is about to come.

At lunch our visit –

aperitif of kefir, lemon, vermouth and gin

flaxseed, walnut and quince

shanklish – pumpkin and it’s seeds

red lentil, green raisin and fermented daikon

leek, caper, walnut and ricotta

broccoli, mint and tarator

Blakes Pinot Grigio/Basils Farm Rosé

lime-fermented tea kombucha (indescribable; sublime)

gummy shark, kale stem and harissa

reds and purples – potatoes

Kiltynane Chardonnay

mint and honey tea

rhubarb, quince, green tea and lavender

Dinny Goonan Semillon

The handcrafted spelt flour bread – manna from heaven – and will remain a My Surf Coast Life talking point of considerable longevity.

All sorrows are less with bread. — Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures. It is not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life. — Lionel Poilane

The Bespoke Harvest guesthouse offers up the benefits of a relaxing protracted stay – a happy opportunity to taste test Simon’s weekend lunch and dinner menus.

We so look forward to our next visit to Bespoke Harvest. My Surf Coast Life & Co have spoken of little else since our lunch date in Forrest. The experience is difficult to put into words. Best ‘just do it’.

The most extraordinary thing about Bespoke Harvest – and the only thing we found difficult to digest – is the almost under-pricing of such a remarkable and utterly unforgettable dining experience. Come the close of your Bespoke Harvest degustation, you’ll not be dismayed by the usual exorbitant – and often unwarranted and unjustifiable – final account that is so often synonymous with the growing trend of the – at times – pretentious food-art scene. None of that nonsense here.

Quite simply, one of the most memorable and perfectly exquisite culinary experiences of My Surf Coast Life…and beyond.

Divine Providence has spread her table everywhere, not with a juiceless green carpet, but with succulent herbage and nourishing grass, upon which most beasts feed. — Thomas More

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. — Voltaire

Booking essential

BESPOKE HARVEST
Open for lunch Friday – Monday
Dinner Friday and Saturday

Closure period – August 2017

FORREST GUESTHOUSE
16 Grant Street Forrest 3236
The Otway Ranges Victoria

T: 03 5236 6446

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