If you're taken along to Chowder House for the first time by a friend who thinks Chowder House rules, it's quite possible you'll ask yourself three questions before you get there: a) how does this glorified soup have so many rabid fans, b) why am I paying any more than ten dollars for glorified soup from a country café, and c) what am I going to have for lunch once my glorified soup is gone?
Fresh seafood is used in Chowder House's most popular dishes. Photo credit: Gordito.
By the time lunch is done, you'll have your answers: a) the chowder is just the beginning (more of that later), but it really is magnificent, b) you're very unlikely to leave believing you haven't got your money's worth, and c) if you can even think about eating anything else once you're three-quarters of the way through the bowl, you will be doing very well.
Located in Hepburn Springs, just near Daylesford and about ninety minutes from the city, Chowder House has made quite an impression on locals and tourists over the last couple of years with its fresh, rich dishes and lively character. While Chowder House offers a range of breakfast and lunch items, it's quite understandably the fare for which the place is named that draws patrons back again and again.
Deliciously thick and full of flavour, the chowder, and most especially the famous seafood chowder, which is absolutely packed with fresh fruits of the sea, is more than a little spectacular. Pair it with some warm corn bread and your soul will feel utterly contented - though your belly may be a little too full.
As hinted though, the food isn't the only thing about the establishment that warrants a mention. The staff members of Chowder House are very sociable creatures, and make breakfast and lunch an interactive experience. Don't be surprised if you end up doing the newspaper's daily quiz while downing your chowder, as everyone is regularly brought together for a bit of fun and banter. In a very relaxed and natural way, the waiters often start conversations with several tables at once, with the chefs chatting away to the whole room from the open kitchen.
With its great food and ambience, a visit to Chowder House is an experience to relish, however there is one little thing that can be a bit confusing. The prices aren't always up on the menu board, and what prices are there can seem misleading. This is apparently due to the fact that the price of the fresh produce used varies frequently, and this is reflected in the cost of the dishes. If you want to know the price before you order, the staff will be able to tell you, but generally expect to pay a bit over $20 for seafood chowder with cornbread, with other varieties around $5 less. It'll be more than you expect from reading the menu, but it's not a lot to pay for what you get, which is a whole lot of happiness in a bowl.