Spring brings new life to Farm & Co. As winter fades and the sun emerges, Farm & Co enters a new chapter of its ever-evolving life with the launch of their newly revamped restaurant, Farm & Co Restaurant, offering an authentic paddock to plate dining experience.
Mindful of where our food comes from, we have always been lovers of Farm & Co. Located in Cudgen, a mere 30 minutes’ drive from central Gold Coast, Farm & Co provides an authentic farm experience for families, testament to the dedication of Michele and Ian, its owners. While their commitment to producing sustainable, organic produce on their 52-acre farm is noteworthy, the farm gained cult status when their crops of sunflowers were discovered by Instagram influencers.
But farming is hard work, fame or not. The past two years’ abnormal weather conditions have devastated crops in much of the Tweed, while retail and restaurant sales were decimated by sickness and border closures.
In September 2022, a new era begins for the farm. Situated on the extended verandah overlooking the farm, Farm & Co Restaurant is an exciting collaboration between the farm and a group of seasoned restaurant and hospitality professionals, with decades of food and beverage experience between them. The project is spearheaded by PLB Group’s Mark Wilson from PLB Group (Osteria, Lolita’s, Ancora, The Acre Boomerang Farm and founders of Taverna and Spice Den), together with Rachel Duffy (No. 35 Kitchen & Bar, and former GM of Icebergs) and wine specialist Tim Coleman (former Manager of Rockpool, Sydney), the venue managed by Amy Brown (former chef and Events Manager at Rick Shores, Cuban Dan).
Following the ethos of paddock to plate, Chef Armando Enriquez Icaza’s menu is powered by fresh, seasonal produce coming directly from the farm and other local and organic producers. With decades of experience in the Northern Rivers between them, the chefs are reaching beyond the farm to source products from the best artisan producers in the area.
“We are right smack bang on an organic farm to source produce from, while being surrounded by a region filled with amazing growers and artisans. The whole project is really exciting. We look forward to bringing something new to the region to complement the thriving food and beverage scene on the Tweed,” Mark Wilson tells us.
is Sitting on the verandah for lunch, we enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding paddocks, macadamia orchards and sunflower fields, the source of much of our lunch. We are served from the share plate set menu, which will change seasonally to highlight the produce in abundance on the farm. Wholefood, rather than any other predominant cuisine, the menu is easily adapted to suit food intolerances, vegetarian or vegan diners.
We begin with stunning Byron Bay stracciatella from local artisan producer Byron Bay Mozzarella Co, dotted with confit heirloom tomatoes and crispy XO oil. A slab of delicious smoked ham hock terrine is served with piccalilli and rye croutons, accompanied by a delicious pizza fritta that can be ripped apart to slather with house-made macadamia nut butter. It’s fine food, leaning on traditions and recipes that go back centuries but with a modern, lighter twist.
The shared main course emphasises paddock to plate even more, with its generous rustic fare. Accompanying the woodfired lamb shoulder are side dishes of roast and wood-charred vegetables, each dish with its own accompanying sauce or dressing to add complexity. Smokey roast potatoes are served with roast garlic aioli. Roast carrot sits on a bed of salsa verde with roast macadamia and honey, while the sunflower hummus accompanying the charred broccoli takes on the greens’ smoky flavours. A green salad, its leaves picked that very morning from the farm, lightens the tone, its Green Goddess dressing adding the depth of herbs to a French-style dressing.
We finish with a slice of Flourless orange and almond cake with white chocolate icing and milk crumb, slices of Buck’s cumquats on top.
Carrying on the ethos of sustainability, wines chosen by Tim Coleman are from small producers who use minimal intervention techniques to produce organic and biodynamic wines. As well as sourcing from the esteemed New England Brewery, local beers hail from Balter and Earth Brewery, just down the road, with whom the Farm & Co Restaurant team are doing a beer collaboration. Mocktails and cocktails also use farm produce, such as my Farmer Colin, the perfect limey drop for summer.
The venue also has a significant focus on leaving a low carbon footprint. Key initiatives include solar power for venue operations, sizeable water tanks for irrigation and bathrooms, composting facilities for all food and paper waste, and a comprehensive recycling program, including using food scraps as fertiliser or to feed the farm animals.
“We are incredibly excited to build on what Farm & Co owners Michele and Ian Kettle have already created on their organic farm in Cudgen,” shares Mark, adding that the venue will also be launching Farm & Co Weddings, set to become a premium destination for daytime weddings in the Tweed region.
Farm & Co Restaurant, 529 Cudgen Rd, Cudgen NSW 2487 Open: Friday – Sunday lunch. Bookings via website.
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Farm & Co Restaurant. Two photos are credited to Farm & Co.