Local Food Champion
STORY AND IMAGES BY RICHARD CORNISH
The room is reassuringly familiar. Set in an old butcher’s shop in the un-fashionable part of Kyneton where the road from Melbourne intersects with Mollison Street, Colenso is a restaurant that feels that it has had life experience. The furniture is all second hand, Australian-made, European influenced mid 20th century. The bar and wainscoting are made from old wooden doors. The art on the walls is by Ian Penn, a living artist. You won’t see this from the street because the room is concealed by fine venetian blinds layered with grey voile. It feels like Brunswick Street chic from the 1990s. This fun, educated, club-like feel all comes from owner and chef Kathryn Russack.
Colenso was at Woodend for many years and Kathryn moved the business to Kyneton 12 month ago, flaying off some extraneous layers on the way. The new Colenso is elegantly simple and deceptively honest. Kathryn is a vivacious and talented business woman who understands how to make a business work in a rural community. “It is all about relationships,” she says. “I can order my meat from someone in Melbourne who does not give a rat’s about me, my staff or my customers,” she says. “I do business instead with Black Forest Meats (in Woodend). They look after me and nothing is too much trouble.” She also deals directly with local growers. To prove a point, she departs for the kitchen and returns quickly. On the plate is a beef cordon bleu. A hand beaten piece of beef from Sidonia Beef with a piece of caciocavallo cheese from Azzuri Cheese at Bolinda and some fine pieces of jamon from Jonai Farms at Eganstown. Served with a little freshly-cut purple cabbage coleslaw it is wonderful. There could be pea fritters, creme fraiche, Yarra Valley salmon pearls and lemon or a starter of velvety chicken liver pate with toast and cornichons. It is simple. It is delicious. Good produce cooked well.
“When you are part of a community you are part of something bigger,” she says. “Local producers and local customers look after you. It is so much more than a commercial transaction. The relationships that happen in a community are the bricks and mortar,” she says. “We are at a very interesting time. There is so much change and uncertainty but there are all these younger and smaller people (food producers) who are developing businesses and growing really interesting produce. It is really exciting to be part of it.” Her food is designed to go back with a very nice little wine list that champions wines from the Macedon Ranges and nearby wine regions with a well chosen selection of Burgundy. Kathryn has worked with the best in the industry. In Melbourne she worked with Geoff Lindsay and Andrew Blake at Stella at Heide, the restaurant connected to Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen. She worked at the Church Street Enoteca in Richmond in its heyday and was there at the beginning at the highly awarded Ladro in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.
Colenso has a developed a menu for the Kyneton Cup on Wednesday November 7 and for Macedon Ranges Budburst on Friday November 16.
Colenso, 35 High St, Kyneton; Tue-Sat lunch
and dinner; 5427 2007, www.colenso.com.au