The Australian harvest of asparagus stretches from August until the end of summer, peaking in the three spring months of September to November. With some of the world's finest asparagus grown in Koo Wee Rup, in the Gippsland region of Victoria, menus from inner-city Melbourne cafes to regional dining hotspots will start to embrace Australia's favourite spring vegetable. Chefs love the taste and look of the spears that can be used in dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Dan Hunter's restaurant, Brae, is surrounded by farm paddocks of the Otway hinterland and 30 acres of Dan's own property which he uses for onsite organic vegetable and fruit production. It's this produce, alongside that of local, sustainable farmers that is used to create Brae's award-winning menu. Seasonality is at the heart of the menu, and coming into spring, the first few asparagus spears have started popping up in the kitchen garden. The team is considering what dish to create with them, or whether to bring back a popular dish from last year's menu - Asparagus, olive plant and sea butter (main image). 4285 Cape Otway Rd, Birregurra VIC 3242, +61 (03) 5236 2226
Montalto's kitchen garden is one of the most extensive of the regions. While this year's asparagus has not yet sprung, last year's menu item, the charred asparagus over fire, oyster cream, nasturtium powder gives diners an indication of what the chefs will do with this year's crop. 33 Red Hill-Shoreham Rd, Red Hill South VIC 3937, +61 (03) 5989 8412
Set among the rolling hills of Mount Baw Baw in Warragul, Hogget is the name given to a lamb between weaning and first shearing. It is the time when the meat is at its most tender and flavoursome - and what better company for lamb on a plate than asparagus. Hogget Kitchen and winery will change over to its spring menu as soon as the new season's crops are at picking point, but located in the same region as Australia's asparagus capital, diners can expect the humble stalks to be on the menu. 6 Farrington Close, Warragul, VIC, 3820. (03) 56232211
Specialising in Shanghai classics, noodles, dumplings and stir fries, while in season, dinners at David's in Prahran can order a crab and asparagus rice noodle roll with ginger soy broth and peanut pesto. A very popular menu item during spring and looks almost too good to eat, also only $15 for two. 4 Cecil Pl, Prahran VIC 3181, +61 (03) 9529 5199
St Ali cafe in South Melbourne offers asparagus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Soon to be on the menu this year, brekky will include, raw and cooked Victorian asparagus (from Koo Wee Rup), Apple smoked Ora king salmon, chard, kale, slow cooked egg finished with parmesan mousse and 1000 day aged gouda. Lunch involved a Victorian baby snapper, served with a salad of charred and raw asparagus, slow baked ox heart tomato and basil. Dinner compiles of new season asparagus cooked and glazed in Schmaltz and finished with chlorophyll served with confit egg yolk seasoned with black Perigord truffle, crème fraiche, tarragon and dill. 12-18 Yarra Pl, South Melbourne VIC 3205,+61 (03) 9686 2990
Lake House Restaurant
With its peaceful lakeside setting and award-winning restaurant, Lake House, just 90 minutes from the city, has long been a destination for foodies seeking a relaxing break. In spring, the lamb with asparagus and morels is a menu favourite with regular guests. Produce is often hand-picked and supports small sustainable producers and growers. Local lamb, rare breed pork, grass fed beef, fresh water fish, sheep and goat's milk cheese, heirloom fruit from old orchards - it's all on the menu at Lake House. King Street Daylesford, VIC, 3460, +61 (03) 5348 3329
This content can be shared and edited for the purpose of promoting Victoria as a visitor destination. Not for use in paid advertising. Please credit Visit Victoria.