The Mornington Peninsula's 134-hectare Pt. Leo Estate is expanding its already extensive offering, adding a second restaurant to its arsenal. Meet Laura.
Laura is a decidedly more intimate space than the original 110-seat restaurant and cellar door that opened when the estate launched in October last year. The restaurant is named after the sculpture by famed Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, which stands within the estate's impressive 50-piece sculpture park.
Culinary Director Phil Wood (ex-Sydney's Rockpool and Eleven Bridge) is of course at the restaurant's helm, offering up set menus of four, five or six courses, ranging from $120–$140 with an optional wine pairing. Curated by head sommelier Andrew Murch (ex-Rockpool), the wine list is 600-labels strong and focuses on local and regional wines, with top bottles from other Australian and international producers also making the cut. The Rockpool recruitment extends to management staff as well, with assistant manager Madeleine Morgan joining restaurant manager Ainslie Lubbock (ex-Attica).
Laura's dishes aim to express the cool climate, maritime cuisine of the Mornington Peninsula and focus on six categories: land, ocean, vineyards, livestock, dairy and orchard. To this end, the menu will change regularly depending on available produce. Dishes that are currently in the works include Flinders Island mussels with seaweed butter and local polenta, John Dory with pickled vine leaves and burnt butter, and locally grown lion's mane mushrooms, glazed and served with abalone and Sterling caviar.
The fit-out falls in-line with the main restaurant and cellar door, with Laura also boasting floor-to-ceiling views over Western Port Bay and east across the sculpture park. The interior similarly uses a natural colour palette, pale timber and leather-topped tables, along with locally-made tableware and Zalto glassware. They're also following the long-standing open kitchen trend, giving guests the theatrical dining experience that has become the norm.
"Laura is a love letter to the Mornington Peninsula," says Wood. "The menu paints a portrait of the region using the highest quality ingredients that I can find. I'm really excited to show people what we've created, and what I've discovered."
Laura opens today at Pt. Leo Estate, 3649 Frankston–Flinders Road, Merricks. Open for lunch and dinner from Thursday through Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6pm. For bookings, visit the ptleoestate.com.au/laura.