Do you need some motivation to get yourself up those brutal 1000 Steps at Mount Dandenong? Promise yourself a lunch at Burnham Beeches in nearby Sherbrooke and you'll be running up the track. For those who have ever underestimated Shannon Bennett and his marvellous, meandering hair: shame on you. The Vue de Monde founder has been working to exquisitely restore the historic 22-hectare residence, and the first stage of the project is The Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery.
A cafe is one thing, as is a bakery. But when you throw Dandenong Ranges landscapes and a 19th century mansion into the mix, it earns a spot on the culinary adventurer's to-do list.
As the name suggests, the cafe fully legitimises the act of pigging out. The Piggery's menu harnesses a dual-identity: classic home style cooking with with a modern edge. If you suffer from chronic indecisiveness, you may find narrowing down on something to eat a little tricky. The Flinders Island lamb korma pie ($24) and Blackmore wagyu beef burger ($12) are favourites among regular customers of the cafe. If coeliac is your middle name, the charcoal chicken will be your saviour. Accompanied with house made nuggets and your choice of carefully constructed salads, you should be set. However, make sure you pack your patience — the food can sometimes take its time finding its way to your table.
If you can't tolerate waiting — or would simply rather to stuff your face in private — then get the goods to go. Burnham Bakery is constantly producing new breads, tarts, pastries and devilishly delectable cakes you can pack up and run away home with.
After putting back on all of those calories you worked so hard on to lose slaving up Mount Dandenong, you may need to get yourself moving again. Why not prompt your circulatory system the fun way? Outside, lawn bowls, croquet and bocce are all stimulating and embarrassing options for everyone involved. Otherwise you have the option of strolling down one of Burnham Beeches' tracks, to the emu enclosure or the pigsty if you wish to snout out the two porky tenants, Bubble and Squeak.
Be warned. As The Piggery doesn't take bookings, 11am to 2pm is a warzone, where mums of five and zealous Instagrammers fight over the final table. Violence aside, the 50-minute drive to the lush, lively and reinvigorated Burnham Beeches is a rewarding one.
Images: Visit Victoria/Robert Blackburn.