They’re back! Ballandean Estate announces return of Barrelroom operators Matt and Bobbi Wells

The first week of July marks the nine-year anniversary that the Granite Belt’s much-loved owner-chefs Matt and Bobbi-Lee Wells commenced trading at Ballandean Estate’s signature restaurant The Barrelroom. Matt and Bobbi will take the reins Monday 1 July 2019 with a view to staying long-term at the restaurant.

The culinary duo spent the last few years on North Stradbroke island operating Whales Way restaurant overlooking Home Beach, and will continue to manage both venues. Over the six years that the Wells operated The Barrelroom, the husband-wife team built a loyal following for their modern Australian menu with Italian influences, a natural fit for the Puglisi family winery and its down-to-earth hospitality.

Puglisis delighted to have them home

Ballandean Estate business manager Robyn Puglisi-Henderson expressed her delight at their decision to raise their young family on the Granite Belt.

From the moment Matt and Bobbi-Lee walked into our cellar door, it was destined to be. Matt had a burns blister the size of a golf balloon on his finger. “How on earth did you get that?” When I discovered they were both chefs looking for a business opportunity, I frog-marched them down to the Barrelroom to meet Mum and tell her it was time to let go of the reins!

Matt and Bobbi are family to us, and we have been missing out seeing their beautiful children Emma-Lee (10 months) and Sam (5 years) grow!

Robyn Puglisi-Henderson

Mary Puglisi responded to Robyn’s enthusiasm with a twinkle in her eye, but sure enough, six weeks later on 1 July 2010, the dynamic duo opened the iconic restaurant’s doors for trading.

From island vibes to high country

Owner-chef Matt Wells says that island life presents quite a few challenges with a young family: high cost of living, remote location, and really long hours in holiday season.

We’ve really missed the close community of the Granite Belt and its friendly faces. It’s where we want to raise our family.

Bobbi went back to work 14 days after giving birth to Emmy-Lee, and ran the front of house at The Barrelroom with bub in front. Trading six days a week was just unsustainable, so we thought we’d try a more relaxed pace and island vibes. Alas! The reality was very different.

Getting our work-life balance right was a major catalyst for the move from North Straddie to high country! Both Bobbi and I loved the food tourism side of running The Barrelroom, it really is a destination restaurant.

Owner-chef Matt Wells

Restaurant trading hours will be Thursday to Monday lunch and Friday and Saturday dinners, giving the young chefs the additional family time they have been craving.

So what can diners look forward to?

Fresh, seasonal and local. Given that both chefs undertook their apprenticeships at The Naked Italian, delicious hand-made pasta will be given prominence on the menu.

Rotolo is one of our specialties. It’s a vegetarian roulade, with spinach and house-made ricotta in the middle. We roll it up in a tea towel, secure it with kitchen string then boil for 40 minutes. Dished up with house-made sago sauce and cheesy béchamel, this is a dish to die for.

Owner-chef Bobbi-Lee Wells

Fancy something a little more carnivorous? Matt waxes lyrical when talking about his Duo of Lamb.

Think local Mallow Lamb two ways. First, I slow-braise lamb shoulder until it falls apart and has the texture of fairy floss. While this is underway, lamb rump is poached sous-vide style for three hours. This brings the meat to perfect medium rare, plump and juicy. I roll the meat up all up together with pesto for textural contrast, and serve with braised puy lentils pea puree, a splash of jus, confit of garlic and caramelised onion jam.

Owner-chef Matt Wells

If that doesn’t have you salivating, Matt plans on resurrecting his magnificent mushroom soup, the Wells’ parting gift to the Granite Belt in 2015. It’s made with local field mushrooms and truffles, finished with white truffle oil and served up with fresh crusty Italian bread.

“And just wait until you try our cocktails! We are bringing some new tricks with us,” he says.

SAVE THE DATE 28 July 2019

Pranzo Italiano (Italian Long Lunch)

Official launch event, 5 courses of shared Italian family-style platters and live music. More info to come!


For all media enquiries please contact:

Robyn Puglisi-Henderson or Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi

Ph: (07) 4684 1226



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