It’s possibly the best café/bar table in Bright, combining river and parkland views, ample shade and a relaxed food, wine and boutique ales dining experience that’s not too fussy, yet delivers on quality.
We’re seated in the rear terrace garden of Bright’s quaint venue, Ginger Baker, and as the weather warms up, we can’t think of a better place to truly unwind and tuck into some tapas styled (slightly-larger) share plates.
‘Some think the café was named after the drummer from Eric Clapton’s 60s band Cream, Peter Edward “Ginger” Baker’, says proprietor Monique Hoedemaker, ‘however it was named after the former owner’s cat who was named after the famed drummer – it’s a bit of a crazy story’.
Having recently purchased the café Monique says she’s extremely happy in her new roll. Monique is a High Country hospitality veteran, previously operating Dinner Plain’s central reservations for 12 years, however in her new roll as café manger, her hands-on savvy business know how has already elevated the venue to a more refined status.
So what can you expect to enjoy here? Number one: damn fine coffee, with beans freshly-roasted by
Bright’s very own Six Pence coffee. Its flavours are well-rounded and accented with nutty/caramel aromas. Match this wake-up call with a neat range of breakfast options including: ricotta hotcakes with maple syrup, mascarpone, toasted pistachio and mixed berry compote; or perhaps the lighter: smashed avocado on sourdough with mint and feta cheese – divine!
Later in the day you might seek a cleansing ale or aperitif. Notable drinks served to indoor and outdoor tables or via the fold-down terrace/garden bar include beers: Mansfield Pale Ale and Beechworth Golden Ale (both great ‘session’ boutique local ales); and local wines: Ceccanti Riesling (Kiewa Valley, east of Bright) and Chrismont pinot Gris (King Valley), both elegant easy-drinking summer tipples.
On this sunny afternoon we sample clean and very tender flame-grilled Mount Beauty lamb cutlets; seated at one of the hand-cut alpine timber tables, shaded by giant aged oak trees. The lamb is topped with a lemon, parsley and coriander chimichurri sauce, this herbaceous/citrus zing is a perfect match to the fragrant and uplifting orange and fennel salad. More robust, the salty fried potatoes with aioli add a touch of body and ‘punch’ to this easy-going warm climate selection of plates. We sip a pinot gris and enjoy the laughter from kids playing in Ovens River and adjacent water park. Ginger baker’s garden outdoor dining area is set back from the parkland/river, so the bubble of the flowing water does seem a touch louder than the raging with excitement children. Dads will love this place: set the kids free splashing about while you enjoy a pale ale, all in clear eye-sight of those little water rats – perfect!
Desserts at Ginger Baker are just what the doctor ordered, within reason… Expect to sample house made panna cotta with a summer berry sorbet (loads of antioxidants here!), a crème bruleé (okay, well maybe just one) or a generous sticky date pudding with spicy caramelized cream and vanilla-bean ice cream. And if you’re concerned about your waistline, simply take a stroll along the river after indulging. You’re just metres from one of Victoria’s most delightful waterways.
Ginger Baker offers dining with uninterrupted views to the Ovens River and the Memorial Garden and is situated on the Great Alpine Road, backing onto the Canyon Walk river trail. There’s live music every second Friday afternoon and the staff and atmosphere make dining a pleasure.
Open: 7days for breakfast and lunch, 8am to 3pm; dinner (currently) Friday & Saturday, kitchen open until 9pm. After Christmas 2015, ginger baker is open for dinner Thursday to Sunday.