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A chef’s guide to Ballarat: Damien Jones

Visit Ballarat

27 Feb 2024

Filed underFood & Drink

Find out where Mr Jones chef and owner Damien Jones likes to eat out in Ballarat…

Cobb’s Coffee

Best place for a coffee and breakfast 

Cobb’s Coffee
2 Lydiard St Sth, Ballarat

“Cobb’s Coffee is my go-to for a much-needed morning double shot.

It’s tucked away in a cool heritage spot between Lydiard and Sturt streets that really speaks to Ballarat.

The place rocks. It’s always busy but the service is super fast – nobody wants to wait for their first coffee of the day! Plus, they’re always consistent.

They source their beans from Melbourne’s Rumble Coffee Roasters – it’s a bit nutty, a bit chocolate-y with just the right amount of bitterness. Again, nobody needs the early morning disappointment of a bad coffee.

This is a place where everyone knows your name, as well as your coffee order, and they nail it every time.

They also serve sangas that are perfect for a breakfast on-the-go.”

Best counter meal and beer 

The Grapes Hotel
121 Grant St, Golden Point

“This pub is old school, which is why I love it so much.

The pub is possibly one of Ballarat’s oldest and a real gem to walk into.

You feel like you’re in the right venue for a fantastic pot of cold, crisp lager in a chilled glass, served by a friendly barman. You’ll be surrounded by familiar faces and newcomers, both young and old.

It serves comforting classics. The food is just what you would hope for – simple. There’s no fancy jus here, just gravy. mash potato with a few lumps and a good pork sausage. Perfect.”

Carboni’s Italian Kitchen

Where I take the family 

Carboni’s Italian Kitchen
152 Eureka St, Ballarat

“Carboni’s is a family-friendly, relaxed and fun Italian restaurant.

It’s always busy with a great atmosphere that really does remind you of the bustling streets of Naples.

The flavours are unpretentious but everything works together in harmony.

The pizza is wood-fired, perfectly charred and loaded with just the right amount of toppings.

Otherwise, the fluffy potato gnocchi is a real winner, served with house-made pork and fennel sausage and a hint of truffle.

They also have great options for kids and those with dietary requirements.”

Where I stock the pantry, fridge and freezer

301 Mair St, Ballarat

“Campana’s Deli has been trading since 1976. They’ll win you over immediately with their fantastic range of cheeses, both local and imported, and all the quality condiments you could think of to go along with it.

They also have an equally exceptional range of wines and spirits, always offering you something new to try.

I really love this store. It’s different to any other you’ll find.

It’s one of Ballarat’s oldest family-run businesses with lots of local history. It warms your heart to see traditions passed down generations living on in Ballarat at Campana’s.” 

Black Cat Truffles

When I want to be a little fancy

Black Cat Truffles
150 Howards Rd, Wattle Flat

“When I’m craving a daytime indulgence, I head to Black Cat Truffles, just a short drive from Ballarat.

Liam Downes (the chef and owner) runs his own restaurant there and he’s incredible.

The venue is top-notch, on par with any you’d find across the country, boasting excellent execution of fantastic French-European inspired food, beautiful wines, and an amazing team with exceptional skills looking after their guests.

I’m always blown away by the flavours, skills, creativity and passion behind Black Cat Truffles.

I understand the effort it takes to strike a perfect balance of food, service and atmosphere, so it’s pretty special to have such a world-class venue to explore right here in Ballarat.”

You’ll find Mr Jones at 42-44 Main Road, Ballarat

Across Victoria’s Midwest, we acknowledge that we travel across the ancient landscapes of many First Peoples communities.

These lands have been nurtured and cared for over tens of thousands of years and we respect the work of Traditional Custodians for their ongoing care and protection.

We recognise the past injustices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this country. As our knowledge grows, we hope that we can learn from their resilience and creativity that has guided them for over 60,000 years.

As we invite people to visit and explore Victoria’s Midwest, we ask that alongside us, you also grow to respect the stories, living culture and connection to Country of the Ancestors and Elders of our First Peoples.