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Published April 3rd 2013
Discover this hidden gem near Gympie
On the road between Gympie and Tin Can Bay, this hidden gem is worth a stop over for its rustic charm, fantastic food and friendly service. Silky Oak Tea Gardens are a well guarded secret amongst locals, hosting weekly live music, karaoke nights and rock and roll evenings. Owners, Darrell and Helen mix things up with a pig on the spit and monthly full moon events.
Originally a genteel gardens for high tea, this place has evolved with the interests and needs of the strong local community, being shaped by the events around it. When a lightning strike felled a tree in the gardens, Darrell had the remains machined into giant slabs which were used for the gorgeous bar, surrounds and some tables. Local farmers were invited to use their branding irons to mark a spot along the top of the bar.
Although most of the restaurant is set within a tin shed, the atmosphere buzzes with exciting treasures and the tin walls are soon forgotten. The decor is eclectic, ranging from historical posters, to old machinery. The bar itself is made from the remains of the trunk of the destroyed tree, large polished slabs and corrugated iron. Silky Oak Tea Gardens is a fully licensed pub, offering a take-out service for alcohol as well as a good bar selection. Darrell makes a brilliant, authentic lemon lime and bitters, using organic limes from the farm next door. Many of the ingredients from the menu are also locally sourced.
The menu is displayed on blackboards boasting a good range of items to suit most tastes. They are open from midday till late every day for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, though it does pay to ring ahead to ensure they are open; particular if you are bringing a larger group. Our group sampled the melt in your mouth rump steak, the steak sandwiches and an exquisite pork loin smothered in locally made mango chutney. Servings (even the children's fish and chips) were extremely generous and prices were very reasonable.
Of a night, woodfire pizzas are also on offer with a separate area to cater for diners. Coffees and teas are available throughout the day and can be enjoyed in the tropical gardens overlooking tiny ponds or colourful plants. Smokers are well catered for with a cordoned off area set within the gardens to enjoy their habit.
Reminiscent of the medieval style pubs, Silky Oak Tea Rooms is a thriving hub of entertainment, good food and stories. With a wonderful atmosphere, friendly country folk and a great selection of beverages, you may find your stay is longer than you anticipated.