Charmingly civilised, with dark timber flooring, gilded mirrors, sophisticated patterned rugs, leather dining chairs and sideboards adorned with sprays of wide blooms, Pipers By The Lake gives visitors a meal and a sense of being transported back in time.
It's blessed with picturesque views of Ballarat's Lake Wendouree and historic Botanical gardens. Its menu items such as 'Guiness and Beef Pie served with creamy garlic mash and buttered green beans' ($19.90) or 'Atlantic Crispy-Skinned Salmon nestled on a potato rosti with asparagus and drizzled with orange vinaigrette' ($27.90) are adjusted seasonally.
I ordered toasted panini and was pleased to find it stacked high with roasted capsicum, rocket, fig jam and grilled haloumi cheese ($15.90). The dish came with a generous serve of thick cut chips, which I slowly devoured while watching black swans and rowing teams slide by on the surface of the lake.
After mains, I happily accepted a towering lemon meringue dessert. Being a dish I sample regularly in a variety of different locations, I can proclaim with some expertise that Pipers By the Lake has one of the best.
Next time I visit, it will be to try the popular breakfast menu or for Friday night dining where I can put the venue's extensive wine-list to work. Or maybe I'll do both, taking advantage of Piper By The Lake's VIP club membership. It's free to join and offers food and beverage discounts, invitations to special events and coffee loyalty cards.
To get to Pipers By The Lake take the Western Highway from Melbourne, about an hour and a half to Ballarat. Signs throughout the town will direct you to Lake Wendouree and you'll find the restaurant on the far Western side.
Mind the 40 zone while travelling through, as the whole area is busy with families, children at the playground, joggers and dog-walkers. On the second and fourth Saturday of every month, there's a bustling produce market as well.
Topped off with an exploration of the nearby Botanical Gardens Conservatory or a stroll through Wendouree's Fairyland Bird Sanctuary, lunch at Piper's By the Lake makes for an excellent day trip and lets you get to know one of the gems of regional Victoria.