Driving into Goonoo Goonoo Station at sunset is spectacular. With long-term drought kicking up dust on the Liverpool Plains, the hazy view out to the dusky purple mountains near Currabubula is well worth stopping to admire. The red and orange light is reflected on the buildings arranged along the ridge line. It’s an odd collection of low-lying architecture with a purpose-built restaurant sandwiched between the 188-year old former sheep station’s c.1950 shearing shed and the c.1870 wool store.
With the beauty that lies within masked by a wall of repurposed wood with square peepholes, it looks almost like a compound in the style of Waco, where the religious sect Branch Davidians were killed in a famous siege. Walking through the heavy wooden door is nothing short of breathtaking, instantly dispelling comparisons of cult and siege. The state-of-the-art Glasshouse Restaurant is the work of TKD Architects; and it’s hard to imagine anything that could sit more perfectly between the two original structures.
While your eyes are immediately drawn to the expansive view over picturesque hills, you eventually come back to take in the interior details. Comfortable retro-styled tan leather lounges are arranged around a commanding stone fireplace. Polished aggregate floors feel nicely monumental, gently illuminated by soft yellow under-bar lighting that does its level best to ensure it doesn’t interfere with the amazing view.
The boxy modernist aesthetic continues into the grey and gold-edged kitchen, which services both the restaurant and its attached function spaces. It’s by dining with a larger group that you get to fully appreciate the joining of old and new, by being seated in the former wool store, where you’ll find weathered barn doors preserved in glass, and transparent floor panels showing off the building’s original foundations. Even the long corridors that take you through to the amenities have been designed to give you a keyhole perspective into the amazing view.
We’re so distracted we don’t register how long we’ve been left without menus, until we’re suddenly starving. Flagging down a waiter in the half-empty restaurant is hard, and the patchy service continues throughout the evening. With the still working station having severed its ties to the sheep industry to focus upon cattle, we opt for the well-named and enjoyable-drinking Heifer Station Chardonnay ($60), which sits at just over midway on the reasonably priced list. We design a one-course family-style sharing feast from the menu, which also includes the option of entrees and mains.
The waiter upsells us into some Smoky Lotus Chips ($10) to tide us over while we wait… and we wait a very long time, even for the pre-prepared chips that I see sitting in a big tray in the kitchen when I take a trip to the bathroom. We fill in our hour plus without food or attention with a walk around the kitchen garden, taking in what the building looks like from the outside, and how it integrates with the curved ramp of the former shearing shed.
After a bit of prompting, we get our chips over an hour after agreeing to them, with the rest of the meal hot on their heels. Accompanied by native peppermint infused balsamic, the crisp-skinned Slow Cooked Saltbush Lamb Shoulder ($85) is tasty and easy to pull from the bone. We team it with a Certified Angus Rib Eye ($79) that’s served rare as requested, well-rested and sliced from the bone into fingers of juicy meat for ease of sharing. It’s glistening with black garlic butter, the richness cut by harissa. In terms of sides, the Roast Potatoes ($10) scrub up best, against garlic cut by peas and creamy feta. Big fat Blackened Carrots ($10) are given a macadamia cream and pesto treatment, while Broccoli ($10) eats a bit plain against more Persian fetta, toasted almonds and not quite enough olive oil.
It’s late and we’re ravenous by now so gobble it, and also manage to fit in two desserts shared among our party of four. Covered in torched peaks of sticky Italian meringue, the Salted Caramel Bombe Alaska ($16) is bested by the honeycomb dust that sits next to it. To my palate, the Crème Brulee ($16) with mandarin gel, yuzu sorbet, lemon myrtle and finger lime is the better option, with sweetness and tartness balanced in (almost) equal measure. By the end of the meal we switch servers and get a heartfelt apology (and decent discount) for the unacceptably long wait.
Would I dine at Glasshouse Restaurant again? Probably, but just because it’s an architecture lover’s dream, and I’m keen to check out the top-notch accommodation arranged agrarian village style in the former shearers’ quarters just down the hill. Watching dawn break over the rolling hills is likely to be equally as spectacular as sunset.
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