By Victoria McGuin
The popular cafe/restaurant La Relais Bressan, which was in Flaxton for 20 years, has upped sticks and moved to the Maleny Hills Motel, where Thierry and his wife Cindy are already delighting visitors (myself included) with Gallic fare and ambience.
I watch as Thierry works his magic on the guests, in his inimitable style, while I enjoy a buttery croissant with my cappuccino.
“We have had the motel for six months,” explains Thierry, “but we only opened the coffee shop a month ago.”
“We are loving Maleny, it’s as good as Flaxton, and we already have some new regulars. Most people knew us anyway,” he shrugs. “I introduced myself to Faye who runs the antique shop, and she said, ‘Oh I know you, the crazy Frenchman!” Thierry chuckles, clearly enjoying this description.
“Cindy and I are very happy with the move, and we hope all the best for the new tenants in Flaxton. We are also so grateful to our loyal customers from the last 20 years, as we have seen them all here over the last month.”
I ask what prompted the move. “After so many years, we needed a change,” admits Thierry, “but we didn’t want to move off the Range.
“Cindy always wanted a low-set house; I said I found one – the only thing is it has seven bedrooms!”
Cindy rolls her eyes good humouredly before popping into the colourful food truck to check on her delicious pastries.
Thierry has a mischievous glint in his eye as he looks at her, “Cindy got a new, smaller cage,” he winks and grins at his wife.
The motel is open seven days a week, and the café is open Thursday to Sunday 8am – 4pm. In fine weather, the shaded outdoor seating looks out onto a manicured front lawn, while inside feels like you have stepped into a cosy French restaurant.
I am enchanted by the rustic feel, the classic checked tablecloths; paintings, photographs and maps from the Bressan region; old piano and antiques, and in one corner, the pantry stocked with French pâtes and condiments for sale.
The cafe menu includes Camembert Tart with salad, Cauliflower and Smoked Salmon Gratin, quiche, crepes, filled baguettes and soups.
“We have cooked meals on Saturday and Sunday lunchtime,” shares Thierry. “Formule 1 is a choice of main course for $25. Formule 2 is $35 for one choice of main course and one choice of dessert, and a free drink.” There is also the option of a cooked breakfast on both days.
Thierry’s influence can be seen across the café and the motel – with fresh roses in the rooms, French art on the walls, even the chairs inside remind me of a Van Gogh painting!
Friendly guests, Helen and Tony from Newcastle, NSW, chime in from the next table, “Thierry, you forgot to mention you offer a deli plate for people staying in the motel. Charcuterie, pâtes, cheese, sourdough bread, fresh croissants… you can have it in the room or take it with you for a picnic.”
“Just bring back the board and dishes!” laughs Thierry.
“We are also doing private dinner parties in the evenings for a minimum of 10 people,” adds Thierry, “and our menu changes each week.”
“I strongly recommend this place to anyone who wants to stay in a place that feels like home,” says Helen. “It’s very friendly, a fabulous stay, with gorgeous food!”
“We’ve been here for 14 days to see family,” continues Tony, “and if any of our friends say they are coming to this area I would say to stay here.”
A family of eight arrive for breakfast, so I say my goodbyes, feeling happy there is a pocket of France once more for me to visit on my morning drive.
Maleny Hills Motel and Le Relais Bressan Café can be found at 932 Maleny-Montville Road, Balmoral Ridge 4552. Phone: 5494 2551 / 0412 255668