Forward March February!

When I lived in Canada my favourite festival was Thanksgiving. I think I have carried the celebration in to our home and only subliminally into our dining room. I find myself pouring over local farmers markets, contacting growers directly. Dreaming about ‘crisps’ of peaches and blueberries, platters of still warm tomatoes with bright green cloudy oil and on. This year I had the delightful discovery of fresh, local cheesemakers who conjure the most succulent and ‘milky’ ‘buratta’ I have tasted. (With a trip to Italy, slated for 2018 I can put my local ‘buratta’ experience to the test.)

We are planning our trip to Lucca, during September. Both weeks will be full of marvelous meals, site visits to wonderful makers and producers, conversations on culture and architecture, … and the list grows. A tour to elevate the senses, pump our hearts and ease our minds. You are invited to join us and for further details, drop us a line at

Our Saturday Sessions are a celebration of this thanks giving time of year. Hal and I head out to the local farmers market to write a menu that is guaranteed to be packed full of high season goods to serve a Saturday evening meal prepared by our family, for you. It is a simple affair. (I have never found ‘simple’ that easy.) It is very much as if you were joining us for dinner in our home. But it is not like that is it, really? There is no charge to be a guest in a private home. That said, it is a fantastic representation of what is on the go right now in our wonderful patch. The fruit and vegetables are untouched by refrigeration. The whole offering is one of great value and quite the rarity amongst modern eating options.

I give thanks to the thoughtful and warm hearted producers we work with. It is particularly special getting to know you all over the years; to watch our businesses stretch, grow and flow; to hear of the twists and turns as we all try to navigate the plans of our hopes and needs to the pace of a world that often feels like it is hiding from where we are headed.






January, you are too fast!

I’ve kind of quietly suggested to myself I should update our Blog more regularly in 2018. Here goes…

The whirlwind of moving has passed and the reality of ensuring a viable, sustainable and balanced offering has arrived.

I often don’t include ‘my story’ even though every marketing guide for the last decade insists on it. Yesterday, we had a family meeting about the year, each others needs and business. My children were 10 and 8 when we began our small business trip with Colenso. And now we have a fresh adult and a 15 year old. Capable, confident contributors both.

On opening a business in a new location I expect to be a bit under the microscope. I am grateful for the interest. Our business hours can be perplexing. Perhaps a little unimaginable that we would not be open weekends. I can assure you they are not dreamed up in isolation. Listed business hours are made of a strong consideration for our guests, our trading neighbours and mostly a practice that is sustainable over the long term.

We wanted to serve weekday lunches and dinners of an approachable price point. We are very conscious of what our restaurant colleagues have established.  It is not okay to arrive in town and just take up a ‘share’ of a limited market.  We have to literally work our way in. And so, Monday to Friday, reliably delicious lunches, drinks and dinners served in a welcoming and detailed way.

Yesterday we sat together as a family and had a catch up about Term 1. We go in to detail. What week is the school load heaviest? Who’ll be home most? We did a weekly menu for the first week back, plus a shopping list and a plan to prep the dishes in advance. Then we talked business. We committed to 10 weeks of Saturday nights, to be worked as a family.

Our Term 1 Saturday nights will focus on fine tuning our connection between our ‘food’ and our ‘drink’. We have always thought offering a fixed menu is a lovely way to eat for many reasons: sample new ingredients, dishes, techniques; eliminate waste and promote a shared time at table like in a family home. Among other reasons you can also have other drivers be the vehicle for choice. For example, I chose last weeks menu completely around two wines, both by Bertrand Bespoke. “L’ecume du Jour’ and their 2017 Syrah. There is often a heirarchy used to plan a menu and we often like to start ‘elsewhere’. More with the weather, the season, the wine and the work.

Keep an eye on our Instagram and our website to see the Saturday menus. They’ll go up on a Monday.

More soon.


2017, there we go!

Well, I’d be pulling everyones leg if I tried to suggest it was an ‘ordinary’ year. It has been huge. Moving a restaurant from Woodend to Kyneton has been a wild and curvaceous ride. That said, I think we have now arrived. Of course there is still much to do, (and if I ever reach a point where I thought there wasn’t, it would be time to re-think the plan).

Our staff deserve an enormous thank you. They have shown their trust and support every step of the way. Our family, ditto. The dining room just would not have been ready without their work.

We are about to hand on the Woodend site. We wish the new proprietors nothing but the best. We spent much of the past eight years on deck and we hope the tradition continues. (It was always a clever initiative to place a restaurant space at the back there.) Onward and upward to all.

There are lovely plans and priorities afoot for 2018.

A panel style salon series –  ‘DUOS’ – is in the works.

Further detailing and managing the acoustics in the dining room.

Re-furnishing. That’s right. Fresh tables and chairs for a comfortable High Street hideaway.

Peace on Earth. Goodwill to All.



2017 Here we come!

My what a lovely year. Colenso has just turned 7. This year we won the Macedon Ranges Business Excellence Awards for ‘Food and Beverage’. We also won Runner Up –  ‘Business of the Year’. I know the restaurant continues to grow and all of us at Colenso really work on making continued improvements on a number of levels.

– We have made a point of buying more of our produce within Woodend this year.

– We have also added specialised and beautiful wine service fixtures.

– Our staff coffee training and maintenance of standards goes from strength to strength.

By the end of 2017 Colenso will re-locate. So yes, we are currently involved with transitioning the business. We will keep you posted. Our wonderful staff are kept up to date with our plans, but they won’t share them with you. They are kept wonderfully busy doing all the things that keep you well looked after while you are a customer at Colenso.

Our landlords decided to not re-new our lease nor to offer lease terms to another operator if we had wished to sell our business. That is their right and their decision. We have known of this for years.

Please trust that we have no plans for a business closure. We wish to re-locate and feel confidant that Woodend is the home of Colenso. Please be positive. And to be super supportive just come along as often as you like and share Colenso with as many people as you can.

Oh and don’t forget we are open New Years Eve. Our last in the current location.

#colenso #woodend #eatdrink #walkhome


2015 – To slip in to all things ‘fall’ seems appropriate. DMPHarvest is in full swing and we must make an effort to be involved next year. I am loving getting along to market every week at the moment. It has been an incredible growing season. Right through the summer and even now fruit trees, locally, have had huge success. We just picked our juicy, purple figs last week. My little car is full of the sweet aroma of plump, furry, fine examples of customer-gifted quinces too. I only dare to bring so many into the kitchen at once. That way we bottle a-little-a-lot and it remains a joy, rather than a huge unwieldy chore.

Changes are underway at Colenso. (Nothing new there). After 5 years we have quietly closed our night services. It just feels right for now. We’ll miss those evenings too. We will keep our focus on being the comfortable, warm and quality spot for all our guests from near and far, whether it be the big catch up lunch with friends or the quiet nibble over a magazine and brekky or a sip of coffee just how you like it. Don’t take it bad. We still have much to offer.

Dietary trends and needs continue to be a serious consideration when putting together menus. We really do put in much effort when navigating the array of concerns customers have with their food choices. A list of dietary needs in the past month is as follows – vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, sugar free, dairy free, paleolithic, FODMAP & ‘nightshade’ free (Of which we made a major error and oversight, with sincere apologies but still we regret, a disappointed customer.) We always welcome including a dietary consideration with your reservation such that we can prepare in advance. It can be tricky for chefs to switch focus once in the middle of a busy service. That said we will always do our best.

If you haven’t checked out the DMPHarvest schedule now is the time. Don’t miss out on some of the great events. It must be Woodend Farmers Market this Saturday. Don’t just chat with the locals, buy food too!

Three cheers for the most beautiful time of year to live in the Macedon Ranges!

September at Colenso

We become quite reflective at this time of year, and at the same time we are busy projecting and planning for ‘the holiday season’ and beyond. I don’t know whether it is due to the year slipping by or the need to be particularly organised as no matter how many times we say the end of the year gets too crammed – it seems out of our hands. So, my aim is for a peaceful year end and planning for that starts now!

Colenso has some lovely projects underway. Patience is a must as some of the people we work with kindly squish our kooky projects in between their ‘big’ jobs.

Glenn up at ‘Artisans at the Mill’ made us beautiful wooden serving boards for our Holgate Beer Dinner. (Which was a great night, made even better by having the maker in the dining room. I was really able to imagine Natasha and Paul and their young family taking on a venture such us the beautiful old pub next door. All credit to them. Great beer, right next door… Good fortune indeed.) Steve up at SRC Upholstery is working on some classic Parker chairs for me. (A gift from Wendy!) I spoke to Shane today down at Macedon Ranges signs. I think we need to re-present our front signage such that there is no confusion as to which business is Colenso.

In August I found the most beautiful rug on Chapel Street, Windsor. It really belongs on a polished concrete floor with a Milan day bed and pristine surrounds… so instead I have hung it on the wall at Colenso. Our design brief has always been about free wheeling with textures. No one sits by it with out touching it. And the corner where the rug resides has even been given a cheeky name. Go figure? Feel free to fondle when you are next in. The rug has been the catalyst for the new Parker chairs and when I find THE lamp – I’ll add that too.

October menus went on the website today. A seasonal presentation of lamb dishes. We are enjoying offering matched wines with each course during September. This has been really well received and I think Hal has been  adventurous in his choices.

Cafe Macedon Ranges
Colenso Cafe Woodend
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