Friday, January 25, 2008

Koukla Café, Daylesford

82 Vincent St, Daylesford VIC 3460
Last weekend we took a drive through the torrential rain towards Daylesford to visit some friends who had moved there. After a lazy afternoon of sausages and sitting on the front porch and enjoying the view, we decided to walk around the lake before heading back to Melbourne. I have been to Daylesford before, but all I have seen is the Hepburn springs and a highly recommended tarot reader with some girlfriends (and no, nothing she said came true). This afternoon in Daylesford was so peaceful- the weather had cleared a little but there were not too many people around, making the walk very quiet and private.

After the walk we decided to have dinner in Daylesford before the drive home. We debated trying the Lakehouse, a highly recommended restaurant that has consistently won accolades over the years as being the best country restaurant in Victoria. Realising that we were not in a mood for white tablecloths and formal service (and the distinct possibility we would not get a table), we decided to try something less formal. Strolling up and down Vincent St, the main street in Daylesford, we could not see too many places open. Considering what a roaring trade this town does from Melbourne weekenders, we were surprised. About to give up, we spied Frango and Frangos, a wine bar/ restaurant that looked promising. Walking closer to it I saw those damned white tablecloths and my heart dropped a little. On closer inspection, next door was a café/ pizza place called Koukla that looked more what I was craving – long wooden tables made from a dark rich wood, a wood fired pizza oven, and a comfortable atmosphere.

Settling in on a beautiful old table, amongst some mismatched furniture, we ordered food and some red wine. The night was cold for summer and the warmth from the wood fire was welcoming. The atmosphere was one not unlike something you would expect to see in the inner city of Melbourne, if a little quieter. In one corner was a group of girls on a hens night, but they were quietly enjoying their food.

We decided on a pizza to share, and a roast tomato and basil soup. I am not a big fan of tomato soups, but there was a basket of the most beautifully red ripe tomatoes on the front corner that made me want all things tomato. I asked Nathan to take the basket and run on the way out later that evening but he didn’t and my handbag was too small ;P I love the tomato season, it reminds me of my childhood when we grew tomatoes and would pick them off the vine and eat them, warm, sweet and juicy, with a smell that I never get from supermarket tomatoes.

I discovered that my phone takes photos and can end up on the computer. Bless technology; I think I am slowly getting it! Of course, I realised this halfway through the meal, so apologies for the half eaten photos but I have to share…

The soup was incredible. It had basil leaves scattered through it as well as some small potato chunks and was warm, sweet, and so so good. It was served with some good sourdough. I am inspired to try to replicate this at home, so hopefully will have something to show for this soon!
The pizza was a mushroom, caramelised onion and sage pizza. It possibly had some boccocini in it too. This pizza had a sourdough base according to the menu, and was just beautiful. Nath made the rather bold claim that this was better than the pizza at I carusi and D.O.C, and he might almost be right. The toppings were not too overpowering and the sage was a great flavour enhancer to the pizza.

After one glass of red and our mains I was feeling a little sleepy, but the dessert menu had caught my eye. Particularly the peach and mascarpone pizza. We ordered this to share, and by this time my phone had run out of battery so I have no photo to share. This was just beautiful. The sweetness and juice of the peaches cut through the heaviness of the mascarpone well. Oh god I want some now!

A perfect meal for a lazy cold summer day. The wine and food knocked me out as soon as I got in the car, and I slept like a baby until we got home. I am definitely coming back here next time I am in town.


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Anonymous said...

After reading the review I was looking forward to a great Italian inspired pizza. How disappointing it was. Dry, salty,uninspiring. Perhaps the chef's night off.Only saving grace was the cheerful service.

Anonymous said...

My partner and I are regular visitors to Daylesford for the lazy weekend, and we never leave without going to Koukla. Best Pizza I've ever had, and I'm very fussy. After tasting the pumpkin and feta, I wanted to leave my partner and marry the chef. :)