113-year-old hinterland tavern takes pub grub into the future

113-year-old hinterland tavern takes pub grub into the future

A hinterland tavern steeped in history is about to write a new chapter as a paddock-to-plate dining destination — pub-style!

After a change of ownership, the 113-year-old Mapleton Tavern will now be known as Mapleton Public House and deliver an organic and seasonal spin on much-loved pub classics.

Owners Ben Johnston and Jess Huddart, who also own The Falls Farm nearby, have a passion for fresh quality produce.

Mr Johnston grew up in Flaxton and for the past nine years they have grown their successful market garden in Mapleton to become a supplier to high-end restaurants across the Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Brisbane.

Ben Johnston and Jess Huddart have a passion for locally grown produce.

With the dream to one day open a restaurant of their own where they could share the knowledge of regenerative farming with diners, the husband-and-wife duo jumped at the opportunity to take over the landmark pub.

Bringing in former Spicers executive chef, Cameron Matthews, the refreshed menu will capitalize on what is grown at the farm and include prime rib steak and roast potatoes, house-made calamari and honey miso carrots.

Ms Huddart told Sunshine Coast News the pub on the Blackall Range offered a chance to reach a broader range of customers than a high-end restaurant.

Honey-miso carrots and roast gramma pumpkin.

“Our vision for Mapleton Public House is a community space where everyone feels welcome and where we can come together to rekindle and reconnect with nature,” she said.

“We have had plans to have a restaurant on the farm over the years, but I think the real clincher for deciding to invest in the pub is that this is different to anything else we have seen.

“A pub attracts a broader market and therefore can become a platform to talk about regenerative farming and seasonal eating.

“I think it will create far more impact in the community than had we donated a high-end restaurant on the farm.

“Even if it is as simple as presenting this idea to our diners, I think we will have made an impact in that conversation of where is your food coming from.”

Chef Cameron Matthews will use produce from the farm to start a conversation about growing food. Picture: Grayson Huddart

Regenerative farming is a conservation and rehabilitation approach that focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil.

Ms Huddart said she hoped to weave this concept of regenerative agriculture through as many facets of the pub and farm as possible.

“We really believe in ethical production and quality produce. We leave the soil in better health after we farmed it than how we found it.

“We use permaculture principles to move the crops around so you are replacing different nutrients that are getting lost depending on what you are growing.

“The food tastes better and is better for you. It has more nutrients and is also better for the environment.

“The team we have in the kitchen is very passionate about the growing we are doing and to push the boundaries in how we use food.”

The Mapleton Tavern originally opened as the Ocean View Hotel in 1910. Picture Sunshine Coast

While the new dining experience will operate as a ‘pop up’ initially, the plans for Mapleton Public House include a private dining space and a bottle shop that will focus on the local beverage producers.

Mr Matthews said the menu would begin stripped back and focussed on pub classics that would be driven by what was coming out of the ground each day.

“We’ll be picking each morning, constantly inventing new ways of using previously unheard-of ingredients, and reconnecting people with freshly harvested, seasonal produce,” Mr Matthews said.

“Our sustainable approach to sourcing ingredients will extend to heroing the whole plant from root to tip, using less animal protein, minimizing waste and changing the menu from table to table to make the most of what’s available that day.

“We will still serve some pub-style food, with a focus on quality over quantity – everything is made from scratch with love, care and attention to detail.”

Ben and Jess grow crops for their other venture, The Falls Farm. Picture: Stories By Ash

Ms Huddart said the pub originally opened in 1910 as the Ocean View Hotel which was marketed as a holiday destination for its spectacular views to the coast.

“The building has so much history and has seen so many publicans over the years, including many women.

“What we are undertaking is about respecting the history in the building and moving it forward to be relevant to what we care about in society today.”

Mapleton Public House is open daily from 10am. For more information visit www.mapleton.pub

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