Tuesday 3 February 2009

Harvest Café - country bounty

Daylesford was originally a mining town in an area known as Wombat Flat, then as a spa town for tourists to came and ‘take the waters’. I have a small piece of personal history there because my nan went to boarding school there and for a while some of my university friends lived there.

Today it is a magnet for treechangers (city folk who leave the rat race to live an alternative lifestyle in the country). It offers a break from the city for those who want a slower pace and affordable housing while still having their lattes and mung beans. Unlike many country towns, I feel confident we can visit Daylesford and easily find a good vegetarian meal.

In fact there is a tyranny of choice when it comes to finding an interesting café but on a recent daytrip to Daylesford with E and my parents, we chose an old favourite, the Harvest Café. The café embodies the spirit of the town. It is a little bit hippy but more upmarket than I remember it. Formerly a little dark and dingy, work has been done since our last visit and it is now brighter and cleaner. Some laminex tables still remain but newer wooden tables have appeared alongside them.

It is both café and grocery store. The menu is extensive and predominately vegetarian. We take a printed menu which has a large breakfast menu (including an incredibly expensive big breakfast for $28) but there is also a long list on the specials board (laksa, nachos, pizza) and still more choices in the fridge (falafel, pies). We make our orders and while we wait we browse through the grocery store.

The grocery is quite large with a good range of gluten free and organic goods. Pasta, chutneys, dips, olives, vegie burgers, flours, grains etc pack the shelves. In the middle is a colourful display of organic fruit and vegetables, but like the rest of the store, it is not cheap.

I had a tortilla stuffed with tofu and tomato, topped with salsa, cheese and guacamole. The fried chunks of tofu were a little bland but the salsa was pleasantly spicy. It was too filling to finish. E had dahl which he thought lacking in spice and was more like a tomato and lentil soup. We enjoyed lunch but it could have been much better. Unfortunately, we both thought the burrito and dahl that we had had at the Vegie Bar recently were far superior. However my mum and dad were very happy with their pizza and bacon & egg roll, both of which looked pleasingly substantial. All of us enjoyed fresh juices except my dad who loves an iced coffee on a hot day.

After lunch we had a wonder among the giftshops and galleries of Daylesford. Our favourite bookshop has been renamed. It is now called Paradise Books rather than the Avant Garden, but we still enjoyed browsing there and quite a few purchases were made. Our final stop was at the Boathouse by the Lake where my mum and dad had scones and tea and I had an icecream and mineral water. Meanwhile E was nearby in the Book Barn. It was a hot day with blue skies so it was lovely sitting on the verandah overlooking the water. Just the way to end a relaxing day in the country!

Harvest Café
29 Albert Street
Daylesford, Victoria
Ph 03 5348 4022
Web: http://harvestcafe.net.au/


  1. Lovely pictures and a wonderful description of the cafe. Wish I could visit!

  2. WOAH Daylesford is now on my must visit list when I come to Australia, it looks so pretty and sounds just like my perfect place, not too country, yet not to city.
    Treechangers, haha

  3. Sounds lovely, though too bad you didn't enjoy the meals that much! I love the term "treechangers"! (I should be so lucky one day. . . ) ;)

  4. Thanks Wendy - yes, worth a visit, if only to see the bike in the midst of the vegies :-)

    thanks Flower - Daylesford was the first country town we took E to when he first came to Australia

    Thanks Ricki - I had wondered if 'treechangers' was used outside Australia - I wouldn't mind being one either (and there is an alternative term 'seachangers' for those who move to the seaside!)

  5. I love the idea of treechangers. I think I am one of those people - and that is exactly the kind of community I am looking for. I am pretty sure we have found it in Vermont. So this October, we are looking for land!

  6. That cafe looks lovely (although a bit disappointing about the food)! Hehe I've never heard that term treechanger before :P

  7. Thanks Jenn - I think the term treechanger is one for you - will be interested to hear about your house when you find some land to build on!

    Thanks Lorraine - I thought treechanger was Australian - wonder if it gets used much in Sydney?

  8. I have eaten at Harvest many times and though i am not a strict vegan, i found all their meals to be more than tasty.
    They also have the best organic lime and coconut ice cream...to die for!


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