Two Beans and a Farm, located in the historical grounds of the Carome Homestead and a former 1800's water powered flour mill, still retains its humble charm. About an hour’s drive from bayside Melbourne, it is a worthy pit stop of good wholesome comfort food!
An honest and charming venue, offering a small European menu with a Spanish heart, does its best to tick all the boxes of a local cafe and wine bar.
It was fantastic to see hands-on operators fighting the good hospitality fight by resisting to serve typical pub food and mundane coffee & cake to the locals. Instead, choosing to be true to their Iberian heart with a non typical menu of authentic tapas, simple satisfying main courses, and tempting homemade sweet treats.
It is the type of venue that feels like you're visiting an old friend who's chosen to service the locals well whilst also trying to tempt the weekend day tripper.
The Friday night we visited the busy homestead, the dining rooms were simply appointed with local art and a nice selection of Latin cookbooks, which set the tone of the menu. We bumped into the busy hands-on owner who was juggling plates, drinks, cutlery, and seating, in the corridor. Before being warmly welcomed and presented with a lovely menu of Para Empesar (To Start). These dishes are priced between $6 for Merquen spiced cashews w/ smoky pepitas to $16 for a Gallic Petite assiette of cured meats, cheese, and warm bread.
This was followed by Mas (More), a listing of 6 appropriately hearty winter dishes like Slow cooked Murray Valley pork belly w/ roasted parsnip, hominy and celeriac remoulade $28, and a Winter roast royale for 2, a roasting pan of grilled spiced lamb sausages, slow cooked pork belly, braised chicken, char grilled steak and winter vegetables $65. Desserts are a daily selection.
The drinks list offers great value with many top shelf Spanish drops under $40, we chose a Don Ramon 2011 Tempranillo - it was delicious and a fantastic example of top shelf Spanish wine for only $35 and eased our nerves about the small menu and possibly too hands-on service.
We chose the Pulpo a la Gallega, Galician style (foodie heavens answer to coastal Spain where they are rightly famous for their Seafood and albariño wine style). The Octopus was perfectly cooked dressed with its briny cooking juices, topped with almost crispy potatoes, spiked with chilli and heavenly smoked paprika...5 more minutes in the pan these spuds would have rivalled the outstanding Octopus!
This was followed by confident serving of house made cured meats. A selection of chorizo, pancetta and air dried duck breast, all served with a loving hunk of Brique d’affinois (a glorious triple cream cheese from Normandy France), and some simple bread. This excellent plate of food gives you an insight into the integrity of the establishment, committed to quality first rather than connivances of outsourcing. All the meats were delicious, the highlight being the soft, sweet, juniper stained duck ham which stole the show as it was perfect with our wine selection.
Next up, being a sucker for the classics, I chose the Paella Valenciana w/ braised chicken, chorizo, corn, green beans, peas and piquillo peppers. My wife chose the comforting sounding Chargrilled 350g grain fed Angus reserve striploin steak sliced w/ lemon juice, garlic, herbs de Provençal, sautéed Brussels sprouts and creamy potatoes. The Paella was honest, authentic, delicious and generous...I loved it! The steak got lost in translation with the meat not matching the previous quality of the cured varieties and the sprouts being a slaw with potatoes and thick alioli - very Spanish but not to my wife’s taste.
Our service was doing its best to cover all the bases whilst managing a busy Friday night crowd. Like I said before it’s a venue which is appropriately homely and where comfort and quality wins the race.
From a display of 4 quality homemade desserts we chose a luxe chocolate flan type torte mousse cake w/ a pistachio crusting. The flan was perfectly cooked with a wobble you want, creamy and decadent. The pistachios, I suggest, might be best as a praline sprinkle to avoid the soggy refrigerated challenge moving forward.
All in all it was a great finish to very homely and satisfying meal which offers so much to the local area.
In my opinion, this is a venue Melbourne needs to get behind so this historic site continues to grow and educate us about the wonderful Moorish foods of Spain and South America.
What Wilson says - A local gem, worth the visit.
When can we go - Monday to Thursday: 9am till 4pm; Friday & Saturday: 9am till 10pm; Sunday: 9am till 4pm;