A gem’s in the cupboard

57a Vincent Street Daylesford

We had ventured past the bustling eatery the day before. With people looking out at us seated by the window, sipping coffees and eating delicious-looking meals, it was the kind of place that you wanted to be in, and be a part of. There was an instant attracting vibe.

So when we happened past Larder once again on our way out of Daylesford/Hepburn Springs on Day 3 of our getaway, looking for a place to munch before we took to the road, although everything looked great, we were hesitant. Inside it looked tightly packed, and I didn’t know if it would be too crowded for the three of us, one of us being a recently turned over-confident, super-animated and vocal girl (and I’m not talking about me). I waited outside while Hubbie ventured in to suss out the sitchy.

We had been soooo undecided ‘til that point. Where to eat, how baby girl would be in the surrounds… we were tired, the car was packed, it was too cold. Blah blah blah. I looked through the window and saw Hubbie motion for us to come in. Here it goes, I thought.

As soon as we were brought to our tables and seated, I immediately started to feel at ease. A female waitress, or more a manager-type as she seemed to be working the room and looking after the barristers and orders up front, tended to us, as did our male waiter, who took all of our orders. HE. WAS. AWESOME. With all the whinge whinge whinge and hesitation that had been going on between us outside (and that WASN’T from baby girl) it was amazing how the energy from the female manager (we’ll call her), and our male waiter, flipped our hesitant vibe to a 180 pumped ‘this is going to be incredible’ one. Honestly, the service was impeccable from the moment we walked in. And maybe that was because we had been so ‘blah,’ that we felt the difference so majorly. Our waiter joked with us and enthusiastically took our orders, even saying I was a deer in headlights after I couldn’t work out what he was spelling out to me, until he said “toybox?” and we just laughed. He hadn’t wanted baby girl getting hyped up before our approval. Over the toybox came, with an assortment of little toys and books. Awesome idea. There was a bit of water running down some of them (some kid threw their drink in?) but it was still, great. Kept baby girl occupied for a bit.

With assistance from our waiter, Hubbie got this interesting looking beer while I soaked in the surrounds.

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And wow, what surrounds they were. I loved it. The atmosphere was cosy, with that Brunswick-hipster vibe, but without the pretentiousness you get with some, replaced with a genuine warmth and friendliness. I loved the décor. It was an urban eclectic mix, with the coffee/register section up front boarded up by a multi-coloured picket fence, and individual lightbulbs ran down from the ceiling and hung fairly low over each individual table.

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Behind us was a mini-larder area up on the wall, with a smorgasbord of local produce like teas, including some other little pots and things to buy. The room had a mix of small private tables and communal tables, with one communal table in the far corner of the room raised higher up so people were sitting on bar stools. One of the middle communal tables had barrel-like light fixtures hung above them, and just in general, the structure and levelling of the room, along with the amount of detail so intricate in every corner, made it so interesting to feast your eyes upon, and it was only a small room at that. It was popping. I loved it.

I was really digging this place. The staff were amazing, the atmos was perfect, and I could just sit and absorb my surroundings all day. If I could just pick it up and take it home and have it be my local, I totally would.

Having said all that, even with our excitement at realising that hey, this is going to be our best restaurant experience yet, on our way out of Daylesford, and we hadn’t even had the food yet (but Hubbie had heard our waiter tell some diners that all their food was fresh) it didn’t mean that it WAS going to be a perfect experience. Because of baby girl. Our beautiful, darling baby girl, was just playing up, and wasn’t being helpful at all. It was driving me slightly insane. When our meals came we were relieved that finally there was food in front of her, but if anything she decided to play up even more. I was going to explode. We managed to somehow feed her, and ourselves, on the following:

Baby girl’s Ham and Cheese on Toast

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My Baked Semolina Gnocchi, wrapped in prosciutto with tomato sugo, pecorino, crispy garlic and sage

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Hubbie’s The Roast Beef Sandwich, with house roasted ‘Kyneton Beef’ rump, shredded lettuce with minted chevre, and tomato chutney

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Baby girl, though she ate it sooo slowly because upsetting Mum was much more fun, seemed to enjoy her toastie, but hey she loves all bread. Hubbie and I taste-tasted the end bits and it was really yum, the ham seemed of good quality.

Hubbie enjoyed his steak sandwich, and I didn’t hear much from his hungry munching until it was his turn to feed baby girl and I got a chance to eat.

Although I ate mine rushed, I loved the gnocchi in the sugo. It was so good, and it definitely tasted fresh. Here was the sauce that Boathouse had missed the day before! The large gnocchi pieces were swimming in the delicious sugo, and I lapped it up, with the bits of garlic and sage that were there too. So enjoyable, yes yes yes.

It was getting hard with her at one stage, and she just kept on whining. Whining, whinging, yelling. OMG. Seriously. And you know what happened next? The manager came up kindly, asked baby girl what was wrong, and then handed her a little notepad that was kept up the front counter, and one of her pens to doodle on.


She was so kind, and not at all upset with her, or us, even though baby girl’s cries were ruining the lovely atmosphere. We said thank you, and through our frustration started to calm down a bit, as baby girl started doodling, while she kept eating, bit by bit.

It was only then, when baby girl was kept busy by pen and notepad, that we realised how noisy her cries had made the place. It was suddenly so peaceful. My God. Our ears were happy again, and so were the other diners too.

She had calmed down again, so we decided to push our luck and rather than get a takeaway, order some drink-in coffees. For baby girl too, though I told her she didn’t deserve it.

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Once again, Hubbie didn’t need a sugar in his latte. As he says “that’s proof of a really good coffee.”
I added one to mine because I just had to, but together we agreed that it was a really great bean. Smooth, yet strong. Baby girl’s babycino kept her busy only for so long, and then we had to leave. Our selfish time was over, and it was time to bid adieu and say farewell to Daylesford and Hepburn Springs (and with that experience we were sure they were all too pleased to see the back of us, though no one said it :))

Food: 9/10. When we heard fresh, and knowing that so many of those places source locally, well I just get so happy and super-excited. Presentation was great too.

Coffee: 9/10.

Ambience: Perfect. Relaxed, inspired and eclectic, urban edge. I’d love to go there with my laptop and write a whole book. I could do it easily as well, with the quality of their food and coffee urging me on.

Staff: 10/10. I don’t normally rate the staff, but the amount of sincerity, humour, genuine willingness to help and please, patience and fun that they showed us, they deserve a 10/10 rating. Hubbie had said the manager had welcomed him with ease when he had asked for an availability, and our male waiter, he was a hoot. What a great combination we had. We loved them.

People: We had a family come to sit beside us (where I could point out the well-behaved girl to baby girl and tell her to be more like that!) couples and small groups of people around us, even a lone diner, an elderly man sitting near us who seemed to be getting much amusement from baby girl’s antics. Glad to entertain peeps. A big mix of locals who have discovered this gem of a place.

Price: $77, but that included a tin of tea from the Slow Tea Company. It really would have come in at about $60, and for 2 and a half main meals and 2 and a half coffees, for the quality of everything we received, that was impressive. Much better value for money than the Boathouse, and the staff at the Lake can learn a bit about service from the Larder folk too.

Advice: We went for lunch on a Wednesday and were fortunate to get in just as a couple of guys were leaving. For busy times and weekends, maybe you might need to book, but I actually don’t know if they take them. I’d say yes, judging from the notepad manager gave baby girl. 🙂 No other advice, just go and enjoy this place, and if you’re a local to that area, well what are you waiting for/you bloody lucky son of a beep!

In a nutshell: None of this ‘yeah, if back in the area, we will probably go back’ half-hearted crap that I admit I kinda do at times with other reviews. When we go back, WE ARE GOING THERE FOR BREAKFAST. AND LUNCH. It is happening. We need to try ALL the larder in their cupboards, not just some 😉 I love the food, I love the coffee, I love the staff. I love it. Just go there already, just do it.

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One thought on “A gem’s in the cupboard

  1. Pingback: Little, with Big Love | smikg

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