I'm a freelance writer in Brisbane who is passionate about the food and wine scene in the Granite Belt, Queensland. I am writing a book of the people and food of Stanthorpe and plan to launch the publication in 2014.
Published July 26th 2011
Have a weekend escape to the winter wonderland of the Granite Belt at The Vineyard Café at Ballandean, 20 minutes south of Stanthorpe.
The Vineyard Café was once a country church and adjoins the reception for the five-star rated Vineyard Cottages. The resident chef, David Black, has worked internationally as well as in Brisbane, and is passionate about sourcing local game and produce to feature on his menu including venison, organic pork and grass-fed beef.
If you don't have time to get to the cellar doors of your choice in the Ballandean area, the Vineyard Café's wine list allows you to have a tipple of the best in the region – without leaving the comfort of the log fire.
Our lunch choices were bacon and barley broth with a freshly baked bread cob: a good choice on a day which got to a maximum of 9 degrees. Main meal was beer-battered barramundi with salad and chips, drizzled with locally-produced apple cider vinegar. It was the best fish and chips I had ever tasted – the apple cider vinegar was a sensational twist on the traditional salt-and-vinegar combination.
Dessert was brandy-spiced apple cake with homemade vanilla ice-cream and a cheese platter consisting of Queensland-made cheeses including a washed rind aged Camembert from Atherton which was pungent and rich. The 'Brass Monkey Blue' from the local dairy at Thulimbah on the Granite Belt was my favourite and went well with the oatcakes and quince paste.
Prices range from $14 for entrées and lunch mains start at $20 for a gourmet steak sandwich served with chips. Desserts range from $14 to $25 for a cheese platter for two.
And if you want to make it a special weekend, Ballandean is an easy escape after work on Friday with an easy 2.5 – 3 hour drive from Brisbane. During July, Vineyard Cottages is offering a themed 'Christmas in July' menu on Saturday nights for consisting of four courses for $75. Accommodation is available at Vineyard Cottages from $230 per night in their five-star rated cottages. Check their website for details: www.vineyardcottages.com.au.