Ash Martin, the Head Chef at Spicers Hidden Vale, tucked into the hills to the west of the historic Brisbane satellite city of Ipswich, is a purist.
You only have to wander for a few minutes around the extensive garden he and his staff maintain on the classy resort’s 12,000 acres — and chat with him — to realise just how passionate he is about using local, seasonal produce.
He doesn’t much like doing weddings, and strictly limits the number that he caters for, simply because they tend to impose restrictions on his otherwise free hand in the kitchen.
Instead, he relies on that garden, which now has nearly 90 beds, and a veritable tribe of chickens, geese, dorper lambs and Wessex saddleback pigs that have a pretty free reign of the paddock and sheds between his home and the old homestead which houses the restaurant.
The bounty includes a bevy of fresh vegetables and herbs. Some are pickled and otherwise preserved for the seasons when fresh output is limited.
The larder is supplemented by the produce of local farmers, gardeners and other providores, who are delivering outstanding culinary treats to the kitchen at Spicers Hidden Vale.
This includes delicious local freshwater cray raised at nearby Tarome Fresh Crayfish, Murray cod and selected beef and lamb cuts.
It’s difficult to describe the feeling of staying at Spicers Hidden Vale, though the term “laid-back rural elegance” comes very close to the mark.
You’re certainly unlikely to stay or dine there as a walk-in off the street. The property’s location on an isolated country road virtually guarantees that there’ll be no customers passing by chance.
You have to know about the place, book in, and set out to go there.
Accommodation is mainly in a series of cottages scattered around the main homestead, which contains reception and the restaurant.
Many of the suites have a spa bath, fireplace and wide veranda with outdoor seating that offers simply stunning views of the countryside.
Spicers is a small group featuring luxury accommodation in south-east Queensland (Spicers Tamarind Retreat at Maleny on the Sunshine Coast, Spicers Clovelly Estate at Montville on the Sunshine Coast, Spicers Peak Lodge on Queensland’s Scenic Rim, Spicers Hidden Vale at Grandchester in the Lockyer Valley, and Spicers Balfour Lodge in Brisbane), Sydney (Spicers Potts Point in the Eastern Suburbs), the Hunter Valley (Spicers Vineyards Estate at Pokolbin) and the Blue Mountains (Spicers Sangoma Retreat at Bowen Mountain).
IF YOU GO
Spicers Hidden Vale
617 Grandchester Mt Mort Road, Grandchester QLD 4340
Phone 1300 179 340