New farm to table restaurant Three Blue Ducks at Nimbo Fork Lodge near the Snowy Mountains is perfect for weekend getaways, short breaks and gourmet escapes.
In 2021, the cheat sheet for a successful restaurant might read as follows: ethical, locally sourced ingredients; unfussy dishes that beg to be shared; convivial service; and an overall sense of place. Three Blue Ducks, the hospitality empire that recently took over the dining room at Nimbo Fork Lodge near Gundegai in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, could have written the rulebook for today’s farm-to-table trend. From what now seem like humble beginnings – a café in Sydney’s Bronte – The Ducks (as they’re affectionately known) have locations in Byron Bay, Melbourne, Brisbane, a second Sydney outpost in Rosebery and, since late 2020, at Nimbo Fork Lodge.
Here, local ingredients come courtesy of surrounding farms and producers – including lamb, fish, beer, wine and veggies – and straight from the Tumut River, which runs behind the lodge’s stand-alone country cottage accommodation. The dining room’s design continues the property’s overall theme, with wooden floors, vaulted ceilings, vintage fishing paraphernalia and French doors opening out to a balcony that faces west to capture the sunset. Where the lodge has always been a laid-back luxe country getaway, it’s now an equally alluring gourmet escape.
As at other Three Blue Ducks cafés and restaurants, dishes here are meant to be shared, so take full advantage and forget “one plate per person per course.” After the light sourdough bread and a Native Negroni (Brookie’s Gin, Poor Tom’s Imbroglio and sweet vermouth), Murray cod fillet comes in a golden saffron pool with bobbing peas, stinging nettle leaves and crisp fish-skin crackling. The sauce is delicate and moreish; our waiter drops off a spoon with a wink. Alongside, a salad of mild roasted beets nestled on an almond cream zings with pickled vegetables, garlic croutons and a sprinkle of earthy dukkah. The wine list features only Aussie and New Zealand labels, with drops from as nearby as the ACT and the last shiraz from a now-dormant vineyard guests pass on the drive to the property.
For mains, the butterflied Nimbo trout is cooked to tender perfection over a wood grill, the meat sweet and subtle with the scent of smoke. The fish is dressed in a classic butter, caper, garlic and lemon sauce, blanketed in dill and other fresh herbs. The 400-gram Provenir bone-in ribeye needs nothing more than its accompanying horseradish and pickled onion puree. Seeing the almost empty plate, our waiter encourages us to pick up the bone. “I like people to feel at home,” she tells us with a smile.
If we didn’t feel welcome already, the rich self-saucing chocolate pudding with tart orange is a final warm embrace.
Atmosphere: A relaxed diner with bucolic views
Best for: Nimbo Fork Lodge guests and those on food safari
Cuisine: Farm-to-table modern Australian
Standout dish: Whole Nimbo butterflied trout with capers, garlic, lemon and dill
Open: For dinner Wednesday - Sunday and lunch on weekends
Address: 330 Nimbo Road, Killimicat NSW
Phone number: (02) 6944 9099