It was to be a ‘wild food’ garden feast – five courses made from local and hyper-local produce held in the gardens of the magnificent Mavis’s Kitchen, Uki.
As the sun descended on the afternoon, seventy people gathered to have a dinner with friends and strangers at two long linen-clad tables strewn with magnolia branches, laid out on Mavis’s lawn, just beside the garden.
It’s only a short trip along the Tweed Valley to reach Mavis’s Kitchen, a trip which, in 2007, the restaurant building had travelled to reach its present location. When owners Peter Clarke and Charlie Ebell sold and closed Harley Street Brasserie, located in a stately Queenslander in Labrador, they were dismayed to learn that the house was bound for demolition. Built in the early 1900s, this was the original home of the Loder family before being owned by Peter’s aunty. Once surrounded by a lush dairy farm stretching down to the Broadwater, the house had become enveloped by urban sprawl.
Now it’s beside us, perched on a hilltop, surrounded by national park leading up to a towering Mt Warning. We sit in a giant garden party, our food brought from the kitchen named in honour of Charlie’s mother Mavis. Produce has been sourced from Mavis’s kitchen garden and local North NSW farmers within the rim of the Caldera. Under a tree nearby, two suckling pigs rest, skewed from the spit, prepared by Executive Chef Eric ‘Pepe’ Garcia and his team.
Beginning with a champagne cocktail and melon to accompany avocado and ginger appetisers with house-made duck prosciutto, we mingle and meet other guests, surrounded by tropical beauty. To one side lies an organic vegetable garden populated with statues. On the other side of the house are accommodation cottages overlooking a shimmering lake.
The stunning Ink Gin, with its characteristic purple hue, produced by the local Husk Distillery is available for purchase, with organic wine from The Wine Tradition served to accompany the meal.
The dishes are rustic, with large platters of food laid out on the table to share. It’s simple wholesome food from a country kitchen: King brown mushroom and potato gratin, Pasta Freda (cold pasta tossed through with tomatoes, olives, and fresh mozzarella), served with an accompanying shot of intensely-flavoured gazpacho, open flame-cooked Suckling pig, Roasted Dutch creams and a Waldorf salad dotted with candied walnuts. Nimbin Valley cheese and crackers follow, together with Lime and passionfruit meringues, tea and coffee.
Really, there’s no ‘wild’ food in sight; no warrigal greens accompanying the gratin, no lemon myrtle crackers with the cheese or foraged mushrooms hidden amongst the king browns. Rather, our feast has been farmed and made by artisan producers; well-sourced produce cooked or finished in house.
It’s a romantic evening as the sun sets, moving from daylight in this gorgeous location to dining under twinkling strings of light. Fed and watered, the worries of urban living seem far away.
Mavis’s sales and marketing manager Kristal Smith tells us that this is the first in a series of dinners and events, known as The Event Series, to be held by the restaurant. With this dinner fully booked (and even oversubscribed), it would pay to book ahead. After all, you don’t want to miss out!
64 Mount Warning Rd., Uki Ph: 02 6679 5664
Open: Lunch Wed – Sun; Dinner Fri – Sat
Note: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Mavis’s Kitchen. Mavis’s Wild Food Garden Feast cost $89pp including a cocktail on arrival and wine to match dinner.
This review has also been published on Blank GC.