One of my favourite little spots in Victoria is Harrietville, a hamlet at the base of Mount Hotham, one of Victoria's snow sports regions. It's about twenty minutes drive from the thriving holiday hub of Bright.
You have to pass through Harrietville to get to the Mount Hotham ski resort (unless you take the 'scenic route' from Omeo via Dinner Plain), so regulars during the snow season might already know about Morries.
Situated next to Pioneer Park on the East Branch of the Ovens River, Morries is in a perfect position with ample parking, though Harrietville is such a small town that you can easily walk there from any parking available.
This little café proves that good things come in small packages, as just about everything is homemade and absolutely delicious.
A year-round treat is the home-made gelato that greets you from the cabinet at the front of the café. If you're ordering a meal from the small outdoor eating area, you have to do it over the gelato case, and it's soooo hard to resist the temptation to order one of those instead.
Morries is open for breakfast and lunch year-round. Breakfast can be anything from a (huge!) homemade savoury muffin to pancakes to a delicious, filling cooked breakfast with all the trimmings.
Lunch is something hearty – such as homemade soups, pies, toasted sandwiches, all presented beautifully to engage all your senses. For example, the chunky pea and ham soup was served with pesto and shaved parmesan cheese on the side - delightful. I spread the pesto on the dinner roll and dipped it in the soup.
Homemade pea and ham soup served with a roll, pesto and shaved parmesan
Snacks are also available – some of the best homemade scones and muffins (sweet and savoury) I've ever had. The scones (two big ones per serve, enough for two people to share) come with fresh cream, strawberry jam AND fresh strawberries – a very nice touch. These people clearly enjoy cooking and everything seems to have a little extra touch, making it a meal to be enjoyed.
Delicious - Devonshire tea with fresh cream and strawberries
The coffee is pretty good, though most reviews on coffee websites rate it about average. However, I found it was a good brew, and given there really aren't any other good options in Harrietville, you should find it does the trick. It's consistent and strong and the lattes are nice, not too milky. They do soy coffees as well.
Service is sometimes a little slow when they're busy, but it's always with a smile and the food is worth the wait.
Space is limited, so it might be tricky to get a seat during a peak season like Spring when there are a lot of visitors to the region, but usually you can find something. There is a tiny indoor area with 3-4 tables and a bigger outdoor area that is partly covered and has umbrellas over some of the tables (though if you're close to the gelato cabinet in warm weather, you might find your umbrella gets borrowed to stop the iced treats melting). When you're outside, you have a lovely opportunity to enjoy the surroundings: the grand old trees, the burbling of the river, the whirring of cyclists. If you have a dog, it can be tied up just outside the seating area within easy sight.
Lately I've noticed Morries has been hosting a busker, probably a local musician, who adds a pleasant ambience with some unobtrusive music. You can drop some coins in his guitar case, but you don't feel you have to, as he's not playing to feed his family (his sign tells you he's playing for beers!).
Morries have even produced a little advertisement for themselves which nicely illustrates the cosiness of the place.
I learnt something new: if you phone ahead, they'll have your order waiting for you. This is definitely a bonus when you're in a hurry to get up the mountain to ski or go bushwalking.
I've only ever been during the day, but they are always reliably open early for that first desperate hit of caffeine.