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Daylesford, a romantic getaway.

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The afternoon started with a scenic drive into the country and onward to Daylesford. The pleasantly winding road is about 1.5hours from Melbourne CBD in good conditions. Surprisingly, Daylesford found its feet when it was established as a gold mining town back in 1852. The picturesque Lake Daylesford now covers the ground which brought a gold rush notoriety to the town. So much history surrounds this area that attracts masses of tourists year round. Whether you are in search of some good old fashioned R&R, adventurous hiking & camping, indulgent day spas and over the top finger licking good locally sourced sustenance, Daylesford and its surrounding area of Hepburn have it all.

After arriving, the first order of business was to check into our accommodation and find a restaurant for lunch. On this particular occasion I had chosen a locally centered hotel in the thick of the small little town, The Royal Daylesford. Accommodation costs were reasonable and the rooms had the aesthetic power to transport you back into the past. Modernized but reminiscent of a different time and way of life. It was the perfect setting for a romantic getaway. The room was on the top floor and led out onto a huge verandah that afforded views of the towns main drag.

Originally we were keen to visit a local pub that had been awarded a hat or two but unfortunately we found that they had been permanently closed. Rest in peace you wonderful gem. Side note: it always amazes me when a wonderful restaurant goes out of business. It has happened over the years to some of my favorite eateries that I frequented often and I am dumbfounded at the outcome. How is it that so many below average restaurants continue to thrive and yet these special little gems never seem to stand the test of time? Lunch. After some searching we settled on a place just up the road from the main town strip, Bistro Terroir. Bistro Terroir is a lovely little French restaurant that is fairly new to the area, I believe about a year old. The first year or two of a restaurants life is really "sink or swim". I was tempted to go for the duck terrine out of habit, a slight substitute for my delicious foie gras but thought to myself, "lets get out of our comfort zone." What was ordered? Tomato Tart Tatin which is comprised of Tomatoes, Confit Onion, Puff Pastry, Green beans & Fetta and Pressed Lamb Belly, Baby Leek, Turnips, Mint & Yoghurt was ordered with a side of Oven Roasted Brocolini. The meal was to our surprise a symphony to the taste buds; delicious and fully satisfying.

Pressed Lamb Belly, Baby Leek, Turnips, Mint & Yoghurt

Tomato Tart Tatin which is comprised of Tomatoes, Confit Onion, Puff Pastry, Green beans & Fetta

Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa is set into a forest of green that invites a rejuvenating energy into your being. Hepburn is revered as "spa country" having been praised for its natural mineral springs and their healing properties. Over 100 years ago a bathhouse, Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa was constructed and stands to this day inviting people from every region of the world to come and enjoy its relaxing and restorative baths. A simple ticket to access all of the social baths can be purchased for 42$AUD* and 89$AUD* to access the sanctuary baths which affords you a more indulgent experience. There is also a massive range of services and packages available including massages, flotation tanks, mani/pedis and facials. If you want to further your experience you can choose to select a luxury accommodation at the beautifully appointed villas situated within a short walk to the bathhouse and spa. As a guest in the villas you will receive complimentary access to the baths for 2hours per day.

*Rates quoted are for midweek use.

Child and senior rates are available.

My time at the bathhouse left me feeling refreshed, relaxed and a bit sleepy. I left with a promise to myself that I would treat myself to more spa days, more often. Having hailed from Los Angeles, in the past I took indulgence in the 24/7 Korean spas every weekend and I've trailed off of my commitment of self pampering in recent times. Taking time out for ourselves to pamper and nurture our bodies, minds and spirits is necessary to keep balance and peace in our lives.

After a short nap it was time to walk 10 minutes down to the Lake House for our Valentines Degustation. I am a huge fan of degustation especially because it allows for such creative and beautiful construction of food with mind boggling pairings. Degustation is especially great for the usually unadventurous eater because it allows for the chef to choose what you will eat. I am an adventurous eater but even I have moved out of my comfort zone and feasted on delicacies that normally I would never considered from an a la carte menu.

We arrived at the Lake house 15 minutes before our scheduled reservation time. The Lake House is at first sight a picture of serenity and quiet indulgence. As you walk up the pathway you are drawn into a slightly secretive retreat. Unsuspecting would be a passerby of the wonders to behold past the simple car park. We were offered the option to take a drink inside a spacious lounge area adorned with a pristine baby grand piano our out on the deck that overlooks the lake. Of course we opted for the outdoor deck area where we sat comfortably and took a moment to soak in the serenity and views. There is usually an a la carte menu as well as the option for a set degustation menu but as it was Valentines Day a special set menu was offered. A 3 course A La Carte Menu starts at 130$AUD per person and the Signature Tasting Menu starts at 165$AUD per person. Matched beverages for the Signature Tasting Menu require a further 85$AUD per person. The Valentines Tasting Menu, 195$AUD per person included a complimentary glass of champagne. As this was a special occasion and every guest would be dining from the same set menu barring vegetarians or patrons with food allergies, I had high hopes for the brilliancy of the dishes. The evening started well with a lovely ambiance and exceptional service. The first three courses were delightful but by the fourth and fifth course I was beginning to wonder how the Lake House had come to garner such notoriety. Granted all of the dishes were presented with aesthetic beauty but they didn't all hold their own when it came to the taste test. Unlucky was I; I had come with great expectations of enchanting ingredients that would have been carefully blended to create a flavour explosion not to be matched even by the gods. Great expectations can lead to great disappointment.

All in all the evening was lovely but quite a let down from such a promising day.

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