Back to the Source
Tim Foster has learned the ways of Central Victoria in his five years running leading Kyneton restaurant Source Dining. Some days he turns up to work to find fresh produce left at the kitchen door – figs, sometimes, or maybe quince or lemons. “We won’t know who has left it. until a local is in having a meal and they’ll say, ‘Did you get that box I left for you?” he says. “It’s really lovely.”
There’s a delightful synchronicity that Foster finds himself embedded in a community upholding the old-fashioned food values. The promise of such a life is what originally lured him and wife Michelle to the area in 2013. “We grew up in South Australia – Coonawarra born and bred - but loved how the food scene in Victoria was so active and vibrant.”
Source Dining is well-named. An acre and a half of working kitchen garden on Foster’s property near Kyneton is the lodestone of Source’s locavore vision, with surplus dealt with via his interest in fermenting and preserving. It’s backed by the region’s leading suppliers such as McIvor free-range Berkshire pork, dry-aged beef from Inglewood and Holy Goat cheese. The menu is a tone poem of European classicism with a mod-Oz inflection, where assured technique doesn’t get in the way of brilliant, bursting flavour. This is where you’ll find ocean trout cured in slated Sedgwick plums, twice-baked goats’ cheese souffle, or slow-braised goat with fennel pollen pangrattato.
It’s ably backed by a wine list that continues the vision of Michelle, who sadly died of breast cancer in 2016. Around half is dedicated to local cool-climate producers, a quarter to Victorian and Australian drops, while a quarter swings international.
The holder of a chef’s hat in the prestigious Age Good Food Guide in every year of its operation, Source is a standout in a stellar field. It’s a place equally amenable to locals as the Melbourne city-slickers who like to catch the train up on a Friday night to have dinner. Foster and his staff have even been known to collect diners from the station (“We’re more reliable than the single local taxi, but Kyneton now has an Uber so we’re really moving ahead.”)
Asked to suggest a dish on the menu that exemplifies his approach, Foster nominates the Meyer lemon mousseline with lemon shortbread, house-made crème fraiche, kaffir lime meringue and dehydrated lemon crumbs: “Our Meyer lemons and limes are in season at the moment so it’s about taking an ingredient we have an abundance of and turning it into something interesting and unusual.”
To everything there is a season, and the arrival of new head chef Quinn Spencer has given Source a burst of energy while Foster splits his time between Kyneton and his latest venture at Bendigo’s heritage-listed Gold Mines Hotel. A spiritual sibling, Spencer grows all sorts of garnishes on his own farm and helps supply the restaurant with duck eggs and raw honey.
“Quinn is a young guy with a great wealth of knowledge. His food is very similar to mine although he’s more attuned with modern techniques,” says Foster. “After five years at the stove it’s great to have fresh eyes and fresh ideas. With him, it’s all about getting the best flavour of the ingredients so I’m thrilled to have met him.”
72 Piper Street, Kyneton; 03 5422 2039