Media and Reviews
Virginia Imhoff, Country Style
"Annie Smithers’ Du Fermier is the Platonic ideal of the country restaurant. Slotting easily into the character-filled main street of Trentham, its amiable eccentricities include a range of covetably gorgeous gardening tools and ceramics for sale and a French farmhouse-style menu that draws its inspiration from Smithers’ huge kitchen garden at Malmsbury. An always-changing proposition, you can expect a four-course set menu and multiple side dishes served sharing-style, whether it’s warm house-smoked duck breast with bitter leaves, a wagyu shin daube with buttery mashed potatoes, kale and carrots and to finish, a fruit pie and double cream."
"Annie Smithers is up to her ankles in deep, dark, chocolate brown soil. The award-winning chef has recently moved her kitchen garden from Malmsbury to Lyonville. The food she grows here is cooked in her du Fermier restaurant in Trentham. "We’re a good couple of hundred metres higher here in Lyonville," says Smithers with her hallmark sing song drawl. "Which means colder winters, shorter growing season and a few problems with germination," she says. "
Two Of Us: chefs Stephanie Alexander and Annie Smithers, Sydney Morning Herald
"Annie Smithers (left), 50, first met chef Stephanie Alexander, 76, when she became her apprentice 33 years ago. They quickly bonded over fresh ingredients, French farmhouse cooking and a love of handmade things."
Cassoulet at du Fermier. The indomitable Annie Smithers is a one- woman culinary powerhouse who salts her own pork and makes her own sausages for her take on this classic French stew. But it’s the creaminess of the beans that are actually the hero.
delicious - top 100
"French provincial cooking in the goldfields town of Trentham so convincing you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the Dordogne.
What, no menu? No. Annie Smithers has decided that before you arrive at Du Fermier, her French farmhouse-style kitchen in the goldfields town of Trentham.
Your task is to be on time, order a bottle of plonk, and see what happens. On a winter’s day, Smithers sent out twice-baked cheese souffles followed by pork loin with crackling and the best cassoulet this side of the Dordogne.
Eating here in spring was entirely different because Du Fermier (“from the farm’’) is dependent on what its enterprising owner-chef can source from local suppliers and her own farm in nearby Malmsbury.
“If you like what we serve, great,’’ she says. “If you don’t … well, there are other places.’’
Du Fermier is housed in an old store. Timber underfoot, garden hoes on the wall. Very rustic. The service is affable. And if you’re dining on a Sunday, Smithers herself will probably serve you dessert. In our case, a cream-puffed yet airily light Paris-Brest."
"Menu? Who needs one? Not Annie Smithers. She rustles up the day's spread with picked-that-day ingredients from her massive kitchen garden. Everything else - Suffolk lamb, duck, fish, Sher wagyu - comes from local suppliers who breed free-range and ethical meats. Do book if you want to secure a seat at one of the rustic tables in the welcoming restaurant. If it's summer, you may score a zucchini salad with cherry tomatoes, rocket and pan-seared blue eye. Courses arrive on one plate, ready to be dished up family style: medium-rare wagyu with a rich jus perhaps, on a bed of purple cabbage with buttery baked spuds and crunchy radish. "We've got a bottle of nebbiolio open," the switched-on waiters may inform you. Good idea. Follow that with a perfect shortcrust pastry fruit pie and double cream. It's cooking with heart - dishes that appear 'simple' but are hard to get right. Want more? Pick up a copy of her latest cookbook on your way out."
"The best little no-hat restaurant in Victoria. Annie Smithers’s little Trentham/French farmhouse kitchen is growing up, blossoming into an elegant, simple and deeply personal dining room. When my palate and enthusiasm wane and I find myself longing for a year in Provence, I book a table and let Smithers transport me there. First-class produce, faultless."