01 December, 2009

Farmers Arms

1 East St, Daylesford; 03 5348 2091

If every town had a pub like the Farmers Arms, noone would live in the city.

Out the back is a one-hat restaurant, thronged with visitors - cosy inside or kicking back in the summer courtyard - enjoying dishes such as rosemary and polenta crumbed pork cutlet with parsnip puree and roasted apples. Out the front, locals and blow-ins jostle at the wide-topped bar for a stool, ready to order some of Daylesford's best food from some of its friendliest staff.

It's a very relaxed set-up. The menu is up on a chalkboard, and everyone's order is put on their tab (making an extra round or course all too easy!). How many pubs do you know with cutlery drawers next to their beer taps?

I'd been dreaming of sausage and mash since we decided to come to Daylesford. The butcher on the main street was closed for the weekend so I missed out on bullboar sausages, but I found a more than suitable substitute at the Farmers Arms: lamb chops with potato salad and roasted capsicum.No less than three glistening hunks of meat blockaded the salad, topped with strips of capsicum and a mess of spinach.

SG pretended to think about the beer-battered fish and chips, but there was really only one thing he was ever going to order (and if he hadn't, I would have!): the porterhouse steak, with rocket and onion salad and roast potatoes. The meat is house-aged and perfectly cooked - lightly charred and utterly succulent. The spuds were just extraordinary - who needs fries?

As delicious and well-prepared as our meat dishes were, we kept something back for dessert: cinnamon doughnuts with dipping sauce.A glass of chilled PX rounded out the ecstasy, which wasn't dulled at all by the arrival of the bill: two meat dishes, a serve of bread, dessert and six drinks came to $108. I think that is superb value. Particularly notable was the PX - the Arms serves Cardenal Cisneros, which is not entry level (it retails for about $60 a bottle) and they sell it for $8 a glass. On the flipside, as with all their desserts, the doughnuts were $15, which for fried flour is a bit cheeky, but it balanced out at a very reasonable night out.

Other Daylesford recommendations

  • The Grande, Hepburn Springs - a majestic old building hidden away from the main road, housing a bar, restaurant and accommodation, with stunning views from the back terrace
  • Spa and Fire accommodation - great attention to the little details
  • Ex Libris paper shop, 89 Vincent St - no item in this shop is short of exquisite
  • Cliffy's Emporium - for homely cafe fare and local produce


  1. I love the Farmers Arms.When I reviewed it for which guide I forgot we sat and drank at the bar and ended being locked in until who knows what time. good memories.

  2. Hey Ed - it's such a cosy, welcoming place I can easily imagine forgetting what you're doing there and settling in til all hours! Our visit was shorter than that, but the memories are still very sweet :)