Regional Victoria is having its own gastronomic renaissance. Our world class wines, unique craft beers and award winning chefs are popping up in dining rooms all over the state, from riverside to bush, farm table to beach.
Here’s our guide to RestaurantExpress menus that are worth a tree change just long enough to enjoy lunch.
You know what you’re in for the moment you walk into this dedicated steakhouse, two hours from Melbourne. Joints of beef hang dry-aging in cabinets that look like they’re built for jewellery. A huge two-sided fireplace is at the centre of the dining room and the pleasant smell of wood smoke flavours the air. You’re here for fire and for beef. The red-gum burring grill is used to sear steaks to perfection and smoke vegetables into moreish submission. Wood fired pizzas are crisp and come topped with local charcuterie. The oven also lends its self to slow-roast shoulders of lamb, spatchcock or sides of pumpkin wedges.
Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley – an hour and fifteen minutes out of Melbourne, the dining room of this award-winning winery is the playground of chef Matt Stone and Jo Barrett – the talented resident chefs at the House of Food and Wine Hotel. We might be biased, but it’s something special. With stunning views over the vineyard, a menu that is foraged and grown on site, and two rising stars of the ethical food movement, it’s worth the drive.
Dal Zotto Wines, King Valley – La Famiglia is at the heart of this family owned winery in Victoria’s own little Tuscany, a little over three hours from Melbourne. The region is famous for Italian varietals and the families that came from Italy to settle in the valley and grow them. The Trattoria offers, naturally, Italian dishes that showcase local, seasonal produce – some pulled straight from the kitchen garden overseen by family matriarch Nonna Elena.
Mountain View Hotel, King Valley - Also in the Valley, this boutique gastro pub is set among beautiful established gardens in the tiny hamlet of Whitfield. Sit in the beer garden under 90 year old trees and enjoy a menu that takes all the best of the region, matched wine from the region and further abroad. Make a weekend of it and stay at the newly renovated nearby.
At the Heads, Barwon Heads – Delicious fresh seafood and 180 degree views of where it came from across the heads of Port Phillip bay. This amazing view – with a dining room attached – is on the edge of the Barwon River on the Bellarine Peninsula, about an hour and a half out of Melbourne. The menu, like the view, changes with the season to showcase the best of the region.
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