Those of you who are Masterchef fans may have seen last nights episode that showcased the lovely gourmet region of Mildura as part of Hestons’ Roadtrip (otherwise known as Milduras’ worst kept secret; my taxi driver told me “that famous food tv show” had been there recently!)
Located about 6 hours drive out of Melbourne, or a quick flight, this Murray River gem is a popular destination that combines a bustling cosmopolitan town with a major regional centre.
Mildura is a spot currently on my radar in a big way, after attending a media famil a couple of weeks ago as my very first trip to the region. Our couple of days spent in Mildura was full of incredible produce, friendly faces and beautiful scenery, and proved that Mildura is the perfect foodies destination for a cheeky long weekend away of indulging. From the higher end restaurants that are now institutions to this small city, to the wineries that produce so much of Australias’ very best wines, to the homely pubs and cafes, or roadside stalls selling produce- Mildura is all about keeping it local, and it was so heart-warming to see how proud the residents of this spot are of their home and what it provides to our state and country.
My visit to Mildura was much too brief, and I am very aware that there are so many places that I still need to visit in the future to truly become a food expert in this area. But, if you fancy checking Mildura out, here are my tips on where to eat and drink yourself silly in Mildura!
Considered a Mildura institution, Stefano De Pieri has been operating his Italian restaurant for over 25 years. I was lucky enough to literally touch down in Mildura and be whisked away for a decadent Italian dinner in the private dining room with Stefano himself, my foodie friends and some prominent locals in the Murray Tourism scene. What a way to start a trip in Mildura! With a focus on local produce and well executed rustic Italian cuisine, a popular way to dine since the restaurant opened has been simply to let Stefano and the staff choose what you eat based on what is freshly cooked that day. We swooned over a simple but delicious rustic Italian herb tart, an Italian version of a cheese soufflé, a stunning handmade Parpadelle dish with homemade sausage and mushroom, a slow cooked braised Lamb neck and finished with a Panna Cotta and a divine Walnut Cake. Safe to say, it was the Italian feast that Mildura dreams are made of.
Sunraysia Farmers Market (first and third Saturday of every month)
Skip the café scene and mingle with the locals whilst you graze on freshly baked goods and check out the local produce on offer. Highlights for us included an epic ‘Breakfast Pie’, banana custard donut and some a yummy omelette from the Mildura SLOW food crew. Such a gorgeous spot to start the morning with views of the Murray; well worth braving the cold for!
A Discover Mildura Foodie Tour
Husband and wife team Phill and Alison are the experts on the region and run a variety of day tours from Mildura. Whether you are into scenery, history or food, there is something that they cater for! Of course, being foodies, we naturally were shown some of the areas most delicious spots.
The Murray River Salt Factory
Our visit to the Murray River Salt Factory and Farm out at Mourquong (you can do this with Discover Mildura) was a highlight of our trip. I use Murray River Salt at home, so seeing where it was harvested was awesome. The main highlight though was the beauty of the farm itself; salty, sparkling lakes of many colours and huge mountains of salt. What a way to spend a morning in Mildura!
Run by a father and daughter team who are very passionate about their job, their region and ensuring everything about their business is ethical and great for the environment, Murray River Salt is one of the areas’ biggest success stories. You will recognize this gorgeous spot from the Masterchef episode last night- a very special place to have dinner.
A family operated and owned olive farm that is a result of a ‘career change’. Donna candidly told us that before they began making olive oil, even they didn’t know how good ‘real’ olive oil could taste because for so long (like so many Australians) they had been buying rancid international olive oil wrongly marketed as Australia. Made on site and with many different variations, this stuff is the real deal when it comes to olive oil- you will taste the difference! The estate offers informative tours about olive oil making, and also has a homely menu of sweets, treats and lunch offerings in addition to plenty of olive oil tastings.
With one of the prettiest views I have seen for a winery, this Murray riverside estate is as old as I am! Offering a range of different wines and vintages, and a rustic style share menu, this is the perfect spot to see the combination of everything that is special about this region; quality wine, beautiful local produce and the mighty Murray itself as your lunch view.
One of the most eclectic and fun gin distilleries you will visit, this is the baby of Steve Timmis; Mildura local, Murray Tourism board member and gin inventor. With a quirky old school apothecary and Steampunk theme, expect funny hats, plenty of gin puns and some of the best gin cocktails you will taste. Steve is an expert on the area, and gin, so there is plenty to chat about over a few small batch G & T’s. I can personally vouch for the excellent quality of the gin as I had a bottle accompany me on a houseboat on the Murray last weekend, and it went down VERY well.
The Black Stump
Both a burger bar and a gastro-pub, The Black Stump ticks a few boxes for both locals and guests; a watering hole, pool spot, cheap burger bar and a modern pub space serving fancier fare by ex Vue De Monde chef Jim McDougall. With a firm focus on starring local produce, including foraged foods, this is not your usual local country pub. After many years in the Melbourne food scene, Jim returned to Mildura and combined talents with old school friend Liam Wood to create this innovative food space in their old hometown. Be sure to try the moreish starter of locally foraged Salt Bush with sour cream- I think I inhaled this serving!
The Brass Monkey
Another husband and wife duo, this new restaurant was like a little slice of Melbourne in a rural area. With a funky dining space, very cool Hawker style menu and a focus on local ingredients, this is your go-to for great modern and hip food in Mildura. Featuring street food with Middle Eastern, Asian, American and Korean influences, with a little Australian flair, this sharing menu was super enjoyable and like taking a street food tour around the world. Stand out dishes were the Chorizo and Cheese Croquettes, Chilli Dumplings, Vietnamese Pork Belly and Frozen Lime Yoghurt.
Blk Mlk Specialty Coffee
Bringing a slice of Melbournes’ coffee and brunch culture to Mildura, my fellow foodies and I felt very at home having breakfast at this grungy spot. Serving creative breakfast dishes like Donut Waffles, Health Bowls & Coconut Panna Cotta, this was about as close as we could get to our famous brunch scene in regional Victoria which is so refreshing! Coffee was fantastic also.
Have a delicious day where-ever in the world you may be!
Please note: I attended the Mildura media trip as a guest of Mildura Tourism.