Drawing from an enviable food bowl, local produce is a star in many cafes and restaurants in Stanthorpe and throughout the Granite Belt region.
You will be surprised by the variety of dining experiences available in this region. From small family-run cafes to hospitality training restaurants, there is a destination for every occasion. Roam the streets of Stanthorpe and check out the little cafes and range further to find the regional heroes.
Newly opened in Stanthorpe’s main street in a gorgeous old pub, Commerical Coffee Shop in the Commercial Hotel is worth checking out.
I find it hard to resist a stop at Sutton’s Apple Farm and Cidery for a slice of their famous apple pie. The pies are very large so you might want to share a slice. Better still, buy a pie to take home with you.
Sutton’s also have a dine-in menu that features local produce and their buttermilk scones are pretty special too.
Another place for scones is Jamworks Cafe and Larder where you can match your scones to some of their amazing jam varieties. Think Strawberry, Ginger and Rose Jam or Apple Strudel Jam.
This cute little former corner store has been home to a few different restaurants. Most recently in my memory, it was the delightful MacGregor Street Project.
Now the family team of Clarissa, Stu and Claudia are heading up the kitchen and it’s called Essen, an Austrian/German noun meaning meal or dinner. This reflects the family’s heritage and their passion for cooking. They love sharing good honest food with friends and their menu is filled with family favourites adapted to use premium local Granite Belt produce.
I enjoyed eating at Essen and an extra bonus was that my accommodation, Apple Blossom Cottage, was within walking distance. This gave us the opportunity to try some great Granite Belt wine matches.
The Barrel Room
The chefs who made this restaurant famous, Matt and Bobbi Wells, have returned from their three-year seaside break on Stradbroke Island to the Granite Belt.
Their new menu is modern Italian Australian showcasing local produce and you dine amidst huge, 150-year-old barrels that are filled with wine.
This place ticks all my boxes and it is dog-friendly with a table near the back door where you can park your pooch.
Find out more about The Barrel Room.
Hidden Creek Winery Cafe
Even when the day warms up on the Granite Belt, there’s still a cool spot under a shady tree with a water view at Hidden Creek Winery Cafe Vineyard.
There was high praise from fellow diners for the Thai salad with Mooloolaba prawns, but the frittata beckoned to me. Wine matches from the vineyard are a great addition.
This Granite Belt restaurant really gives you a chance to relax in the moment and enjoy your stay. It is dog-friendly too.
St Jude’s Cellar Door & Bistro
You might remember the much loved Shiraz Restaurant on the New England Highway at Ballandean. Well, it is now a new cellar door and eatery for Sirromet Wines.
The St Jude’s Cellar Door and Bistro opens early enough for coffee at 7 am and takes its name from the Sirromet vineyard across the road.
Open Wednesday to Monday, St Judes serves coffee from popular Brisbane roaster Fonzie Abbot. Slow-cooked, Italian style rustic dinners are available on Friday and Saturday nights.
Find St Jude’s at 28200 New England Hwy, Ballandean.
Jersey Girls Cafe
Just 10 minutes drive out of Stanthorpe, Jersey Girls Cafe and Stanthorpe Cheese offer a real paddock to plate experience. Their artisan cheese are made from a single herd of pure bred Jersey cows that you can see grazing in the paddocks.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because it’s Queensland, it’s hot here. In the border highlands the 925 metre above sea level altitude means temperatures can hit -15C. That’s pretty darn cold! Summers are warmer, but the living is still easy.
Depending on the weather, the milk and cheeses vary slightly reflecting seasonal differences which makes for interesting eating and true farmhouse cheeses..
This is great lunch cafe especially if you enjoy a hearty Ploughman’s lunch. Select three cheeses and your favourite accompaniments and settle in to cheese heaven. The cheese cakes are pretty awesome too.
I like to purchase a selection of my favourites and take them home in a cooler bag, so don’t forget to pop yours in the car.
Find Jersey Girls and Stanthorpe Cheese at 4 Duncan Lane, Thulimbah.
Granite Belt Brewery
You might head to Granite Belt Brewery to see how they make their locally inspired brews in their 1000 litre microbrewery but you’ll also enjoy their beer-hall inspired menu. It’s not too fancy but goes well with their full-flavoured beers.
You can settle in with a tasting paddle and enjoy an afternoon here with a group of friends. If too much beer is consumed, the are 20 cedar cabins with log fires just outside the door.
People are talking about their new pumpkin beer too!
For something a little different, try Varias Restaurant at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism. You’ll enjoy a selection of local produce prepared and served by hospitality students along with a stunning vineyard view and an open fire.
What to bring home from the Granite Belt
A trip to the Granite Belt is not complete without leaving with a car stuffed full of local produce and wine. You’ll find some roadside stalls, depending on the season but Sam’s Farm Fresh Fruit and Veg at Cottonvale is a one-stop-shop for all things locally grown.
Pick up your Mt Stirling Olives, local free-range eggs, jams, apple juice and honey, and taste the region back in your own kitchen. You’ll find it just off the highway at Thulimbah.
During the strawberry season, you can pick your own at Ashburn Farms. You’ll also find it hard to resist their strawberry sundaes. Try the one that has a sauce of caramelised strawberry balsamic vinegar. It is absolutely the best strawberry sundae I have eaten.
Disclaimer: The writer was a guest of Granite Belt Tourism.