Summer is here — hooray! Quick everyone, grab your sunscreen, put on your thongs and sunnies, pop on a hat, get in the car, we are off to the … Dandenong Ranges. This is not how one would normally expect the script to go, but now that Burnham Beeches estate has completed stage one of its revival and The Piggery café is in full swing, your outing plans are slowly being re-written.

Less than an hour from the city centre, The Piggery café is the perfect location for a quick getaway jaunt. Slowly winding up the hills and into Sherbrooke Rd, dwarfed by trees that shut out the sky, you are likely to think at some point, “Someone built a café out here?” This thought vanishes swiftly as you enter the Burnham Beeches gate and are warmly greeted by the visual spectacle of old grain silos surrounded by lawn, while the smell of charcoal and grilling food wafts around on the mountain breeze. Yes, someone built a café out here alright — and much, much more.

That ‘someone’ is none other than Vue De Monde maestro, Shannon Bennett, who has teamed up with business partner Adam Garrison, with a mission to create nothing less than a gourmet retreat and wonderland.

Burnham Beeches has a long history dating back to late 1920’s and has gone through several incarnations. It was originally used as a private residence, then a children’s hospital during World War II and even did a stint as a hotel in the 80’s. In its current incarnation, the major emphasis at Burnham Beeches is now on relaxation and great food fuelled by sustainability and ethical produce. The list of amazing features to support this is endless — a six acre vegetable garden, a 500 tree trufferie, what will be Australia’s longest chicken run, a 16 cow dairy and an emu enclosure … wow this is making the tummy rumble already. Better take a look inside.

This is one of the few times where it’s OK to enter a venue and exclaim, “What a pigsty!” That’s a free dad joke right there, use it at your discretion. Yes, the space was indeed once used to house and feed happy swine — and there is still a firm emphasis on diving into a hearty feed. However, the little pens and feeding troughs have been replaced by a rustic, industrial atmosphere featuring wood and marble communal tables, concrete walls, enamel light fixtures, exposed metal beams and a smattering of brick work, all of which are enclosed by the original barn doors. The space encourages us to relax and enjoy. The tables are large and create a communal eating atmosphere. Are you someone who likes your toast done only one exact shade of brown? Relax; you have your very own toaster at the table. Always wanted more ketchup, but too afraid to ask? Relax; condiments are only an arm’s reach away.

The state-of-art Burnham Bakery is at the heart of all the amazing bread and pastry that is proudly on display. The bakery also creates delicious artisan goods using biodynamic and sustainable practices. Even the bakery’s delivery vans are powered using leftover cooking oil! The range and quality on offer here means there is no reason to come back down the mountain empty handed.

It is a well-documented fact that pastry is the perfect accompaniment to coffee. Don’t go and Google that, just trust me on this one. The team at The Piggery are not going leave you short on options here either. The shiny Synesso 3 group Sabre pours a perfect, complex and comforting custom house blend accompanied by a rotating monthly single origin offering. If you like your espresso with milk, then you are in for a treat as the team from Schultz organic farms provide the dairy here, delicately dosed from a Juggler milk dispensing system. No milk bottles to be found! If you are looking outside the realms of espresso, the Piggery team brew up a tasty house filter that also rotates monthly, using the always consistent Clever Coffee Dripper. Now that the weather is getting warm, a cold drip will also be hitting the brew bench offering sweet, refreshing coffee nectar to those in need of a cool caffeine fix.

The food is delicious, wholesome, thoughtful and comforting. There are chargrilled goodies smoking in a 44 gallon drum barbeque, charcuterie and cheese plates for sharing (which is difficult), line caught fish of the day and salads aplenty.

This all sounds a little too good to be true, right? Did I mention that there will also be lawn bowls, croquet, bocce, a steak house, a microbrewery and a 52 room, six star hotel retreat? Put simply, the The Piggery cafe and Burnham Bakery is the perfect destination to unwind with friends and family and is well worth a quick drive into the hills for.

Piggery Cafe
Burnham Beeches
1 Sherbrooke Road,
Sherbrooke, VIC, 3789

Opening hours
Monday — Wednesday 10:00am — 5:00pm
Thursday & Friday 10:00am — 8:00pm
Saturday & Sunday 9:00am — 5:00pm

© Photos provided with permission by Emily Bartlett. All rights reserved by photographer

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