A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published January 27th 2020
Enjoy urban farming without getting your hands dirty
acre farm & eatery has brought a new concept in hospitality to the eastern suburbs - a rooftop restaurant and cafe that also features a farm. Located in the new Burwood Brickworks development, its elevated location not only means it's possible to operate a farm on site (currently growing 70 types of produce and flowering plants), but also that there are sweeping views out towards Mt Dandenong.
The rooftop location provides the opportunity for an urban farm, and also sweeping views to the east
Having a farm on site provides a source of the freshest possible ingredients for some of the dishes. Patrons can wander amongst the growing produce - a true urban escape. As group farm manager, Adrian Baiada, said: "We wanted a food growing space that people dining at acre could touch and smell and really experience where their food was coming from. This led to the design where access paths are integrated into the farm, coupled with an overall farm trail where people can wander around."
acre - shining a light on sustainable hospitality
Along with the plants, the farm raises quails, which help with the recycling of organic waste, provide fertiliser for the farm, and produce eggs which are used in the kitchen. They also source manure from nearby RSPCA to use in the gardens.
If you visit acre, you are therefore guaranteed ethical soundness - but what's the dining experience like?
The farmhouse restaurant at acre is a large, open L-shaped space. The decor is in neutral tones, restful to the eye. The venue is designed to let in plenty of natural light, but, as day drew to night, the over table lights ensured there continued to be a comfortable level of lighting. There is enough space around tables for diners to easily move around, and to have a conversation without being overheard by the next table.
The farmhouse restaurant at acre
The menu at acre is divided into small, medium and large sections, featuring many options that sounded immediately appealing, and well suited to sharing in a group. The wine list exclusively features Australian wines, some of which are available by the glass and the half-litre carafe. We selected a carafe of the Ingram Road pinot noir (Helen's Hill Estate, Yarra Valley) ($33 for 500ml) - an elegant, slightly fruity wine, that has hints of spice. Easy drinking and it would complement a wide range of dishes.
Between three of us, we started with prosciutto and melon, with baby acre herbs ($21). A delicate dish, both to look at and eat, it was a great start. We particularly liked the creative inclusion of different types of melon.
Prosciutto & melon with baby acre herbs
The second dish tried was charred mixed zucchini, with whipped goat's curd and dukkah ($15). Again, this dish had immediate visual appeal. On the surface, a simple dish, the combination of flavours and textures made it a delight to eat.
Mixed zucchini with shipped goat's curd and dukkah
Jumping to the 'large' section of the menu, we then went for the slow roasted lamb shoulder, with almond skordalia, mint and zucchini pickle ($49). As the photo shows, the shoulder is a substantial portion of meat and designed to be shared. The meat was tender and falling off the bone. Delicious! The pickle was a creative inclusion in the dish, and, tending more towards the sweet than sour end of pickle, it provided balance and interest.
Slow roasted lamb shoulder
To accompany the shoulder, we ordered sides of skordalia with almonds, potatoes and garlic ($11), and steamed vegetables with salsa verde, pangrattato and lemon ($11).
Finally, we had steamed white wine and herb mussels, with crispy saltbush and focaccia ($27). Again, a simple dish, but the broth was so tasty - there was not a drop remaining when the plate left the table! I can't recall having tried saltbush before, but it was a pleasant surprise. Flash fried in the lightest tempura batter, the leaves had a subtly salty flavour and a chewy texture that I really enjoyed.
Steamed mussels with saltbush and focaccia
The food we tried was fresh, flavoursome and - overall - delicious, and it's no surprise that despite being open only a short time, acre is already popular with diners. I can't wait to go back and try some of the other dishes on the menu!
Also on the rooftop at acre is the glasshouse cafe, offering more casual daytime dining (from 8am).
The farmhouse restaurant at acre farm & eatery is located at Burwood Brickworks, 70 Middleborough Road, Burwood East. It is open from 5.30 - 10pm Wednesday and Thursday, 11.30am - 10pm on Friday and Saturday, and 11.30am - 4pm Sunday.
To reserve a table, click here or call acre on 0403 229 233.
All images in this article were taken by the writer.