The historic Plough Inn near Victoria’s Beechworth is anything but a typical country pub with a menu to rival the best restaurants.

Story By Sheridan Roders

Just 200 metres off the Snow Road, and on the main road to Beechworth in north-east Victoria, is the Plough Inn at Tarrawingee. Erected in 1864 for Hopton Nolan, the first licensee, it retains many original features including the old stables out the back, while its white facade with blue trim forms a picturesque complex set well back from the main road.
While the pub remains in the Nolan family, Colin and Carole McClafferty bought the licence in March 2010. The McClaffertys had been running the restaurant in the Whorouly Hotel, not far from Tarrawingee, when the opportunity arose in October 2009 to take over the Plough Inn.
“Whorouly was a bit off the beaten track and we were looking to do more days,” Colin says. “The Plough Inn hadn’t been run as a pub for a couple of months when we looked at it. Originally there was a small dining room for 15 people, then a large interior space was opened up and we realised we could run it as a restaurant with a rustic country ambience.”
Prior to their arrival, the food served at the Plough Inn was standard pub grub, but the McClaffertys have introduced a more contemporary dining experience that includes a few updated old classics. After just 18 months, they’re pleasantly surprised by their success.“People seem to like to come here,” says Carole, self-effacingly. “I think it’s because they can order dishes which they don’t cook at home.”
Despite the name, don’t expect to find a ploughman’s lunch on the menu. Rather, expect, a few exotic dishes such as Sicilian goat, a rich braise of shoulder of goat with eggplant and tomato spiced with vanilla beans, pepper, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and juniper berries. It’s served with grilled polenta and steamed seasonal vegetables. Just the thing to warm you up on a cold day. Or maybe it’s rabbit pie that takes your fancy, or duck confit, or a prime scotch-fillet steak grilled to your liking and served with either chips and salad or steamed vegetables?
“We try to use as much local produce as we can source,” Carole says. “The 21-day dry-aged grass-fed Old Kentucky Blondes ‘blonde d’aquitaine’ beef from Londrigan is fantastic and we’re keen to use Neil and Jill Taylor’s Aylesbury ducks once they get into production. At present they supply our guinea-fowl eggs, which we use in our nicoise salad.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #77

Outback Magazine: June/July 2011