This Mornington Peninsula institution has a winery cellar door, cafe and fine dining restaurant.
If you've been mourning the absence of Red Hill's Montalto, then dry your eyes. After a short closure, the Mornington Peninsula institution (that's been hatted 14 times, no less) has reopened as a revamped, more relaxed version of itself — and its main restaurant now has an emphasis on cooking over fire, sharing plates, enjoying long conversations and soaking up rural views.
On arriving, the first thing you'll notice is that the kitchen has gone through a stripped-back redesign. The new centrepiece is an asado grill, based on Argentinian parrillas. Providing much of the produce is Montalto's kitchen garden, now expanded to a mighty four acres. To sample its goodness, order swimmer crab and white asparagus mornay or broad bean, globe artichoke, goats cheese and dill.
Meanwhile, all meat on the menu is sourced from nearby producers. These include Mount Macedon's Milla's Farm Ducks, which contributes to the half duck with preserved mandarin dish, and Trentham's Milking Yard Farm, whose wares are found in the veal rib-eye, kohlrabi and miso. The linen tablecloths have disappeared and in their place are handcrafted tables, made of recycled and sustainable chestnut by Zac Pearton of ZP Woodworks. The restaurant is open for lunch Friday through Tuesday, and for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.
Overall, the space has a more relaxed, open feel, making the most of Montalto Estate panoramas, dotted with vines, olive groves and sculptures. If you don't feel like a full multi-course meal, you can slide into one of the tables at the Piazza Cafe — it serves pizzas, Mediterranean-style snacks in its sheltered courtyard. It's open, along with the cellar door, each day from 11am–5pm.
Images: Karon Photography.