Posts Tagged ‘Mornington Peninsula’

I’ve been hearing about the Continental Deli and Restaurant, DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar located in Mornington for a while now. It certainly seems to polarise people, with what I can only call their interesting approach to hospitality – I’ve read some less than impressive (read scathing) reviews. So when Katie suggested pizza at DOC’s for Dinner a few weeks back when Melissa and Shane where in town, well, I was a little apprehensive. However, one thing I have noticed about DOC is that it is normally quite full, normally with a waiting list of groups to be seated. When we arrived it was very busy – the middle of the tourist season in Mornington is never a good time to try to get seat anywhere, but it seemed especially busy at DOC. We sat at the window waiting for a table in the very overcrowded seating area, and after a bit of a wait we were hurriedly shown to our table.

Looking at the menu, the Pizza’s aren’t cheap – and I already knew that was going to be the case – sure if you compare these pizza’s with a take away place, then yes, they are expensive. But the point a lot of people obviously miss, is that these are not your standard run of the mill pizza’s. We ordered three pizza’s and Melissa ordered the Lasagne. Made in the Italian style, the pizza’s are thin and not too crispy and have a light topping of a tomato based sauce and a scattering of creamy melting disks of fresh Mozzarella. Toppings are generally pretty sparse as well, so you get to enjoy the individual flavours and notice the quality of the ingredients. To be honest, these would have to be some of the best pizza’s I’ve ever tried – the base was so good that we ate the crusts dipped in the olive oil that was provided on the table as though it was a delicious warm flat bread – And Katie never eats her crusts!

There’s no doubting the quality of the food or the ingredients -the service on the other hand is somewhat eccentric. It seems as though their hiring policy is that the waiter must be from Italy first, and training or experience in hospitality in not necessarily required. The wait staff aren’t all that attentive, some of them actually seem put out to be serving you and would rather be having fun with the other staff members… However, the vibe at the restaurant is fun and frivolous. The wait staff seem to be having a great time with each other and are often yelling across the bar, or joking with one another – If you don’t take the waiters too seriously and go to simply enjoy good quality authentic food, I’m sure it will be a worthwhile experience.

Note: Once again my phone was playing up – so no photos for this one…

D.O.C Mornington on Urbanspoon

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Located right down the end of Main Street Mornington, Boyz 4 Breakie is a popular place to get that bacon and egg fix so often needed on a Saturday or Sunday morning after…  After a big day spent adventuring down the Great Ocean road yesterday, none of us felt much like cooking so the decision was made to head down to Boyz 4 Breakie. A good time to get a late breakfast before heading back up to the city and saying goodbye to Melissa and her Mum, Maria as they return to Sydney. I’ve been a few times to Boyz 4 Breakie and it’s always packed – probably because the food has always been pretty decent.

When we arrived today, Melissa spotted another table finishing off what looked like three burgers – I was of course intrigued. Further investigation revealed that one of the menu offerings was the three Breakie Burger Sliders! Happy days I thought, I grab those thank you very much. Melissa ordered the same, with Katie getting a big Breakfast type of arrangement and Maria ordering the Pancakes. Katie really enjoyed her breakfast and I was lucky enough to sample a little bit of her plate. The chipolatas were really good and the scrambled eggs were lovely. Maria enjoyed her pancakes, and everyone thought their coffees were nice – god I hate coffee… But I wont go off on that rant – I had a T2 Tea, in a pot, English Breakfast, just the way I like it – a civilized way to start the day.
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The Breakie Burgers came with Black Angus beef patties, bacon, fried eggs, cheese, lettuce, tomato relish, all served in-between three rather generously sized, white bread, sesame seeded slider buns. The patties were more of a back note – cooked medium and lightly herbed, put together with good quality meat, not overly beefy – they worked well, allowing the bacon and eggs to be the stars of the show.

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The eggs were fried, still runny, one exploded on me and the yolk went all over my hand and arm, thankfully missing my clothes – I love that runny egg yolk on a burger – so good. The bacon was salty and had a nice grill flavour and light char marks, and the relish really rounded out the sliders. All in all, one of the better burgers I’ve had recently – and it was for breakfast. Great way to start the day, I give them a solid 7. Very nice.

Boyz 4 Breakie on Urbanspoon

Yet another foodie gem on the Mornington Peninsula wine trail. Stillwater at Crittenden as the name suggests, is located at Crittenden estate, which is technically in Dromana, halfway between the beach and the foothills of Merricks North. It’s a lovely location, and we – that’s Katie and her best friend from the States, Melissa and of course yours truly –  were lucky enough to visit on an amazing day, perfect clear sky’s, beautifully warm, but not too hot at 27C. The Peninsula was certainly turning it on for our overseas guest. The restaurant is nestled between the vineyard and a picturesque lake, and since we got a table out on the deck we were treated to some lovely views. On the way to the restaurant, you walk pass the wine tasting venue which looks fantastic. Unfortunately for me Katie was quite hungry as we were running a little late after picking Melissa up from the Phillip Island ferry. This meant I didn’t get a chance to sample any of the wines before lunch – I had to tried a few from the menu without any prior knowledge… such a tragedy I know!
On weekends, Stillwater has a two or three course menu for $60 of $75, not bad value considering the quality and size of the options. We opted for the three course menu which in hindsight was probably a little bit piggish but who cares – a long lunch in the sunshine with good food, wine and company – Yep, it’s a hard life but someone has to live it.

To begin we chose our starters and Melissa and I chose some wine by the glass. Katie opted for water and the Crispy fried pork belly with green papaya slaw, chilli caramel.

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Although Katie was pleased with her choice she looked a little miffed that she couldn’t indulge in a glass of wine – well, there’s only 10 weeks until our baby girl greets the world so Mum will just have to hold tights and live vicariously through others.

Anyway, I digress, Melissa chose a Rose which I didn’t see on the menu to go with her Poached Crystal Bay prawns with mizuna & shaved cucumber salad and wasabi mayonnaise. Melissa was impressed with her choice and quite enjoyed the freshness of the seafood – as a New York foodie, she has high standards so I’ll take her word that the first course was quite good.

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For some reason I wasn’t that hungry and so I opted to go for lighter options throughout the lunch, for starters I ordered the tempura fried zucchini flowers stuffed with goats curd, with
mizuna, olive tapenade & herb dressing. The zucchini flowers were lovely, and the sharp and creamy goats curd paired really well with the olive tapenade. The mizuna is a little bit peperary and reminds me of roquette. A really lovely course to start with. Since I love Mornington Peninsula Pinot’s, I had decided from the start that I would try a couple – I started with  the 2012 Crittenden “Kangerong”  Pinot Noir which was lovely, and great example of a peninsula style Pinot.

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For the main course the girls decided to go for the lamb and the steak, whist I opted for the market fish, which was a lovely fillet of Barramundi, served over cous cous, with snow peas and pistachios. I really enjoyed my meal and both Melissa and Katie quite enjoyed there’s, although I had to help them finish them as they both felt it best to save some room for dessert. The bowl of chips and aioli that we decided to get to share wasn’t necessary as all the meals were quite generously proportioned. I had picked the 2012 Crittenden Estate “The Zumma” Pinot Noir as my second wine and whilst it wasn’t the ideal match for the fish, it was really a lovely wine, and matched really well with Katie’s lamb, which I had to sample of course, and Melisss’s eye filet, which I kindly finished for her.

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Finally, we all ordered our desserts, although I was struggling to work out exactly where I was going to fit mine in. We had to shift tables as the sun had moved and we no longer had any shade –  Katie and I were getting the full force of the sunshine, which was just a little too much at 4pm in the middle of the Australian summer. Thankfully there was a table in the shade on the deck and we finished our long lazy lunch there. I had the Vanilla Crème Brulée and poached pear, Katie ordered the strawberry cheesecake which had strawberry coulis and sorbet with a crumble thing on the side which was delicious, and Melissa got the selection of house made ice cream – also outstanding

I’d have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable winery restaurant experiences I’ve had not just on the Peninsula, but anywhere in Australia. Crittenden have the experience and location to deliver a fantastic food and wine experience which lives up to the expectations and price. I’d highly recommend stopping here for lunch if you are on a tour in the area.

Stillwater at Crittenden on Urbanspoon

wpid-1417944575465.jpgWe were down on the peninsular over the weekend and had plans to catch up  with Paul and Ness at some stage, either Saturday or Sunday. Eventually we decided on Sunday lunch, and to be safe I made sure that where ever we were going had a burger on the menu. Ness had suggested Merricks General Wine Store – a fairly centrally located venue if you are touring the vineyards of the Mornington peninsula. Before agreeing, I had a sneaky look at the menu and discovered they did in fact have a burger so everything was OK with me! I also really enjoy the drive up around the hills – through Red Hill/Merricks, so the venue sounded good to me. Although the day was pretty rainy, it’s still a beautiful part of the world and a lovely drive – even better on a nice sunny day. As a bonus, if you like Pinot’s then there are some really good wineries in the area as well that produce some excellent examples of the Mornington style.

Anyway, we made a booking online and organised to meet at the restaurant. Merricks General Wine Store serves as cellar door for three small winery’s, they also sell local produce such as olive oil which I have to say is also pretty good – there’s some really good oil available in the area, but it’s hard to know what to pick without tasting first. Generally, any of the local extra virgin Olive oil is good, so I’d recommend giving one a shot, you wont go too far wrong. We wondered around the art gallery situated next door and then into the restaurant which was pretty quite as we got there fairly early. There was a bit of a hiccup with the table, the online booking hadn’t been written down on the paper list so they didn’t have a table for us, thankfully the manager was more than helpful, and set up a table out in the bistro section in a good location – and then sent us on for a wine tasting (Well, just me since Katie can’t drink). I do have to have a little bit of a whinge here – one of my bugbears with the peninsula is the price of the wine – generally you have to fork out at least $35 for anything halfway decent and north of $50 for anything really good at most of the wineries. I’ve been to other wine regions and in comparison the Peninsular is just too expensive for what you’re getting. All I can think is, if I go to Dan Murphy’s and spend $30-$50 I can get some really good wine, and even some really good wine from the Peninsula! Look, I get that these are small producers, I get that I can’t get this from a regular bottle shop, but honestly, if you are asking me to spend north of $50 for a bottle of wine it better be damn good, and usually, it’s not that good. Suffice it to say, I didn’t buy any wine, although we did sample a glass with Lunch which really is the way to do it – If you are touring the wineries, I’d really only buy a couple if they were really good, otherwise stick to Dan Murphy’s et.al. to buy your more high volume Peninsula Pinots – they’re generally pretty good and half the price, I rate the Paringa Estate PE which is generally sub $30.

Ok, so on to lunch – by the time Paul and Ness arrived Katie and I were pretty hungry. I ordered the Merricks burger, which is described on the menu as –  O’connor angus grass fed beef, caramelised onion, tomato, cheese, lettuce, pickles, mustard & mayo, comes with fries and it’s $28. Yep, the food on the peninsula isn’t cheap either, I guess you just have to deal with it, it’s a tourist area and these are tourist prices… The burger was very generous so that made up for the price, it was a two hander kind of burger, with a big meaty patty. The bun was nicely toasted and was quite soft, the sesame seeds on top had been toasted slightly just in the middle on the top – just a little kiss from the grill – this added a nice toasted note. The bun was a standard white, very soft, not as sweet as some, worked well with this burger. The first bite revealed a burger made from quality ingredients from start to finish. The patty was big, cooked to medium, seasoned perfectly. You got a strong beefy flavour suggesting the addition of a prime cut in the mince, with just the right amount of fat, the juices were flowing – this was the type of patty you think about when you are hungry. The next taste you get was the caramalised onion – almost a jam, sweet and savoury, a perfect partner to the meat. Then you got the cheese – melted, protecting the patty from drying, adding a creamy salty flavour. The salad was your standard lettuce tomato combination, although both were fresh and the tomato was tasty. Finally, the mustard and mayo were both quality, seemingly home made in style, probably Dijon mustard, you got a mature, more complex profile than your sweet American style. Finally the pickles added a sharp contrast against the sweet onion. This was a grown up burger, executed well. I wasn’t complaining about the price at the end, so you know they nailed it. I would get a burger here again without hesitation, well worth the trip. I give it an 8.5 – Quality.

Merricks General Wine Store on Urbanspoon

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I’ve been to Whispering Vines Café a couple of times now, and on each occasion I’ve had a lovely meal – they often have really interesting specials – the beef wellington I had here as a special was outstanding. It’s also a really lovely spot, weather depending, outside is really nice, but I’ve been here when it was blowing a gale and the rain was pouring, inside it was nice and cosy and it was fun to watch the rain clouds roll over the countryside.

On the latest visit to Whispering Vines, we were lucky to actually get a table! Mum, for some unknown reason, had decided that there was no need to book… Well of course the place was packed on such a sunny spring day, and we were told there would be a 30min wait – there were a few of us, Mum, Katie, Jo and Sharron. Katie was not happy with the idea of having to wait for so long as she was not feeling well – thankfully we were only waiting for 15minutes before we were lead to a table out the back, in a nice shaded spot outside. Crisis averted!

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Once everyone was seated, Jo and I decided to go off and do a tasting of their wines to find one to match with out meal – I had decided to order the special – Eye filet with potato dauphinoise, I think from memory it was $38. Jo was not being very creative and ordered the Pork belly again – sure it’s really good, but why not try something different (Says the bloke that orders burgers all the time…). Anyway, Jo focused on the whites and I had a sample of the reds. I wouldn’t say I’m a regular wine drinker, but I do enjoy a well matched glass with a meal. Generally speaking, I’m a fan of Mornington Peninsula Pinots – I like their juicy, berry driven style, and the boldness of what they produce them down here.  They’re not soft and boring – the Mornington Pinot is different from other regions and I like that. It’s also probably because I like the fact that I grew up on the peninsula and I kind of feel that I should support the region… Anyway, I chose their 2012 Trofeo Estate Pinot Noir which I thought would hold up to the steak, and Jo went with their 2013 Trofeo Chardonnay to match with her pork belly.

The food by the way was lovely as usual, although my steak wasn’t the best cut of meat I’ve had – it just lacked for flavour – everything else was quite good. Mum enjoyed her duck and Sharron’s lamb looked good. Katie was being a little weird, which is fine, she’s pregnant so she can do what she likes – she decided to have an almond croissant and some chips… Interesting combo, but apparently very tasty. We also got an extra bowl of the fries with the smokey chilli mayo.

As far as a winery café goes, it’s a lovely spot, that’s got very good, reasonably priced food (Especially for the peninsula, for some reason it’s quite often exhorbantly expensive down here!). The winery’s own wine by the glass is also good value. However, I would point out that the cellar door prices for their wine is a bit much – $32 for a starting price? I can get better Mornington Pinots cheaper elsewhere. I guess the fact that you can really only get it at the cellar door makes it more expensive as it’s exclusive? Personally,  I’d stick to picking your favourite from the tasting and then enjoying a glass with a nice meal. A great spot of a long lunch on a warm spring weekend afternoon.

Note: I actually went to Trofeo’s a few weeks back, I just haven’t had to the time to write this lovely place up. I think their menu seems to change quite a bit so I’d check online first, but also keep in mine that their specials are usually pretty good.

Whispering Vines Cafe on Urbanspoon