Twenty-five years after closing it’s famed The Pheasant Farm restaurant, the Beer family has opened a new chapter in its trailblazing Barossa food biography with The Farm Eatery and Experience Centre.
The brainchild of Elli Beer, youngest daughter of Maggie and Colin Beer, The Farm Eatery and Experience Centre is situated on the Maggie Beer Farm Shop property in an architecturally designed space that represents her generation of Beer family hospitality.
“I grew up on the restaurant floor,” says Elli.
“So after years of running a catering business, it seemed timely to return to the floor and my desire to give people what I grew up with – the joy of fantastic food.”
Chef Tim Bourke, formerly of Kangaroo Island’s Southern Ocean Lodge, is at the kitchen’s helm with Maggie never too far away to collaborate over ideas and be a sounding board as ingredients come into season.
“To me, Mum and Tim have so much in common although thirty years apart in age and with different tricks,” says Elli.
“They share the same innate sense and love of creating sophisticated yet simple food that allows the ingredients to shine.”
The Farm Eatery’s 14-dish lunch menu ($4-$36) is firmly entrenched in the traditions of region and season, as first championed by Maggie almost four decades ago. There’s also a ‘Trust Us’ offer on the menu, where diners are fed on what Tim feels are his ultimate dishes of the day. The menu is written daily, giving Tim free reign to be imaginative as he identifies which ingredient is at its best on the day.
“The kitchen feels like a playground, which is perfect as we want our food to be very diverse, very fluid and very fresh,” says Elli.
Examples of dishes include fried green tomatoes stracciatella, local mushrooms with rice polenta and artichoke, spinach gnudi with walnut, saltbush and house-made goat cheese, fried Barossa chicken with remoulade and pickles, grilled radicchio with Vino Cotto and parmesan salad, and desserts such as poached quince with verjuice custard and meringue.
A wood-fired oven sits at the centre of an alfresco dining terrace overlooking the Farm Shop’s dam, and on the wine front the best of the Barossa’s small winemaking families is on show with ‘Meet the Maker’ Sunday lunches and a constant rotation of local gems on a wine list that also features a selection from Colin’s personal cellar. For the lovers of gin, artisan distiller Durand Distillery is in residence with an array of concoctions to try while dining-in or as a pupil in the Barossa’s first Gin School held in the restaurant’s adjoining Experience Centre.
Here The Eatery Cooking Classes will also be launching its weekly class calendar on June 19 this year. Classes are both demonstration-based and hands-on, with themes including terrines and pates, butchery and sausage, fresh pasta making and the art of pressure cooking.
For admirers of contemporary interior design no creative spirit was spared, with the fit-out masterfully handled by the family and Adelaide based, Claire Kneebone.
Highlights include floor-to-ceiling pivoting mesh walls creating a semi-transparent and moveable divide between the restaurant and the Experience Centre, and views across the dam, the vineyards, and the Barossa Valley floor.
The Beer family has no plans of quitting this property in their lifetime and is excited that the third generation, Elli, and sister Saskia’s children, already show an interest in being involved, be it clearing tables at The Farm Eatery or Maggie Beer Farm Shop, or helping out in Saskia’s Farm Produce sustainable farming business, which is also on site.
The Farm Eatery is open for lunch daily: – weekdays 12noon-3:00pm and weekends 11:00am-3:00pm
Location: Pheasant Farm Road, Nuriootpa SA 5355