Dining and Entertainment with Amie Brûlée

by Amie Brûlée

Main Road – The Main Bar & Mr Jones

Main Road has had a shake up this year and has become an interesting little corner of Ballarat’s CBD. The block closest to Bakery Hill is an eclectic mix of vintage shops, small businesses and eateries housed in beautiful old buildings. After an uncertain month when Catfish Thai closed and The Main Bar went to auction, there was a sigh of relief when the former reappeared as Mr Jones and latter reopened.

Glenn has brought back the sourdough pizzas that were always the staple of The Main Bar menu. They are extremely well priced and delicious – a thin crust with tasty toppings – and the drinks list has something to please everyone – good quality wines, classic and new cocktails and mocktails, craft beers and spirits. Head upstairs to the music room (try not to get distracted by the deck halfway that looks west over Ballarat) and you’ll find yourself in a beautifully crafted, wood-panelled room with velvet curtains and art deco fittings. The music leans towards jazz, blues and acoustic, and if you’re lucky someone will be playing the grand piano. It’s a very comfortable space to have drinks with friends while listening to some cruisy tunes and nibbling on a pizza.

For a more upmarket dining experience head down the road to Mr Jones. The new project of chefs Damien and Danielle Jones is inspired by French cuisine and based on seasonal, local produce. The restaurant has lost the previous red décor in favour of a more rustic grey and white feel, and it feels good. There’s carpet on the floor so it’s not a noisy place, in fact conversation is very easy and the smooth jazz coming through the speakers is interesting enough to listen to but not intrusive. The restaurant has a set menu of several entrées and main courses ($35 lunch or $59 dinner) and will happily cater for dietary requirements.

Sautéed mushrooms, delicate and fresh; the perfect accompaniment to slow cooked beef.

Pear poached in red wine, wrapped in prosciutto.

I tried out the Saturday lunch menu and it was the kind of food that stopped the conversation every time we tasted something new on our plate. The two entrées were beautifully presented flavour combinations – pear poached in red wine, wrapped in prosciutto and topped with a red cabbage sprout; artichoke, tapenade and quail egg on a crispy toast smeared with hollandaise. Main course was beef – slow-cooked and grilled – incredibly tender and very tasty, on a bed of puréed potato with caramelised onion and a side dish of tiny braised mushrooms. Wines by the glass are all Australian (many local) and there is an extensive list of French wines by the bottle. The Garagiste Chardonnay was the perfect lunchtime wine to match the meal. This was truly one of the best meals I’ve ever had in Ballarat – outstanding food, service and ambiance.

Cheese and dessert are on offer, but I had eaten well and will have to go back again just for those two. Paired with a one of the many fortified or dessert wines on their list I think it will make a perfect meal!

The Main Bar | 28 Main Road, Ballarat, Victoria | Thur 6-10pm, Fri & Sat 6-11pm |

Mr Jones | 42-44 Main Road, Ballarat, Victoria | Lunch Fri & Sat 12-2 Dinner Thu, Fri & Sat from 6pm |