HAPPY DUO: Ballandean Tavern owner Tracey Hilton with head chef Grant Murphy.
HAPPY DUO: Ballandean Tavern owner Tracey Hilton with head chef Grant Murphy. Matthew Purcell

Duo keen to serve up quality

BALLANDEAN Tavern's reputation continues to grow with a new combination taking the establishment to the next level.

Experienced chef Grant Murphy has teamed with owner Tracey Hilton and Ms Hilton is thrilled with how the business is faring.

"He's been with me now, at the tavern, maybe for a couple months,” she said.

"He's just lifted the quality of the food. There's more variety on the menu, it's fresh quality.

"The standard of the food has just improved so much.”

Going into the third year of her ownership, Tracey left Warwick and has never looked back.

"I've been in the hospitality industry for about 13 years prior to coming here.

"My daughter has disabilities and this (down here) offered more respite, more care.”

She co-ran the Warwick Hotel previously and built up the place before shifting south.

"It just seemed like a nice, quieter, country-style pub.

"The first year was just settling in, getting to know the locals but this last 12 months has been really good ... I've really enjoyed Ballandean, met the people - lovely people, farming community,” she said.

Ms Hilton has embraced the lifestyle and is keen to support surrounding businesses, stocking purely local wines.

For Mr Murphy, it was a case of returning to his roots: He was born in the area and grew up at Ballandean before relocating to the coast for work.

"I did my apprenticeship on the Gold Coast, ran a couple hotels down there and then moved back,” he said.

With vast experience at some top spots on the coast, Mr Murphy has been afforded a chance to introduce his own "flair on the food”.

"We're using local produce as much as we can, what's in season. It's just a bit more upmarket... it's got that wow factor to it,” he said.

More variety, better quality is what they aim to showcase.

While the calibre is up, prices remain favourable with Ms Hilton keen not to price out locals and families.

With summer approach- ing, they've moved to make life more comfortable.

"We've just got air- conditioning so, if this summer gets hot, you can eat in comfort.”

They also host functions and parties so anyone who wants to host a Christmas function needs to book soon.

"We have a great team, experienced staff and a warm welcome family environment,” Grant said.

The tavern will offer 10 per cent off meals in November.

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