Want to get in on Victoria’s hottest secret? Beat a path to this historic inland city for food, drink and fun times.
Hop Temple Laneway Bar
Ballarat proves it can do laneway bars just as well as Melbourne with Hop Temple. Off Armstrong Street North, follow the brightly coloured umbrellas hanging overhead past the bicycle shop to a shabby-chic kingdom where local hipsters gather for craft beer and a pub-style menu starring a cross-cultural Cuban Reuben, served on Turkish bread.
The local café competition is heating up but Yellow Espresso is holding its own, thanks to excellent coffee from Axil, chilli scrambled eggs to ward off the cold and on-trend Instagram bait such as pruffles – protein-packed truffles aimed at the pleasure jugular of everyone from paleos to vegans.
The Pub With Two Names
Prolific artist David Bromley has turned publican with The Pub with Two Names. Taking over the former Peter Lalor Hotel, this 100-seat restaurant and bar is decorated in Bromley’s trademark eccentric style. As for the fare, it’s a modern grill with an Argentinian accent - the new Ballarat home of meaty good times.
You can tell a city has “arrived” when it boasts the likes of Underbar, a 12-seat restaurant open only on Friday and Saturday nights. From New York’s famed Per Se to central Ballarat, chef Derek Boath celebrates the region’s incredible produce with a dégustation menu that sees the eatery booked out as soon as seats are released.
The Provincial Ballarat
An Art Nouveau gem on Lydiard Street, The Provincial is a worthy place to lay your hat. Recently restored to its 1909 glory, these luxe digs ooze Edwardian charm and have every mod con – including the cute ground-level Nineteen09 restaurant and bar.
Continuing Ballarat’s noble tradition of distilling, both legal and illicit, Kilderkin flies the flag for the craft gin craze. The first new distillery in the area since the 1930s, Kilderkin is an offshoot of the highly regarded Red Duck Brewery – visit their combined cellar door for gin flights and beer paddles.