We don’t know about you, but after a drive out to Victoria’s gorgeous countryside, the first thing on our mind is food. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of fine dining options across the state. From Daylesford and the Otways, to the Murray and Yarra Valley, there are top restaurants fit for the most opulent of diners. Get out of the city for a weekend and enjoy a taste of country life at Victoria’s best regional restaurants.
No list of Victoria’s best regional restaurants would be complete without Brae. Located just inland from Lorne, it has the coveted three hats rating and was listed as one of the top hundred restaurants in the world within a year of opening. Needless to say, you need deep pockets and patience to get your foot in the door, but once you’re there it’s worth it. Brae is more than a restaurant, it’s also a working organic farm and a guest house. Led by owner and celebrated head chef Dan Hunter, the establishment has a focus on seasonality and sustainability, and consequently, has an ever-changing menu, but you know it’ll be good.
Another well-known destination; Lake House at Daylesford has been hosting guests, weddings, private functions and dinners for years. The restaurant holds two coveted chef hats from the Good Food Guide and is set on six acres of beautiful country gardens right by the Daylesford Lake. The food itself is elegant and seasonal, with local suppliers and the restaurant’s own farm produce taking pride of place on the menu. You can sip a wine on the terrace overlooking the lake before settling in for four exquisite courses of gourmet food.
Some would argue that the Mornington Peninsula is hardly regional these days, but during a dinner at Laura you’ll forget all about the city hustle. Set on the gorgeous Pt. Leo Estate, Laura is the second restaurant on the property, but not second best. She’s got sweeping views of the sculpture park, not to mention Western Port Bay. With a cosy set up and local wine list, you can choose from four, five or six courses to take your tastebuds on a tour of the peninsula. Buckle up, you’re in for an indulgent ride.
Port Phillip Estate
Sticking with the Peninsula, sculptural architecture and fine dining come together at Port Phillip Estate. The sweeping concrete staircase leads you to the restaurant with panoramic views out across the vineyards and the bay. You can enjoy your meal with a drop of their finest Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or Pinot Noir—or why not try all three? You can stay the night on the estate or pop down for dinner from Melbourne, we don’t think you’ll be keen to leave though.
Lunches don’t get much fancier than this; overlooking the stunning Yarra Valley within driving distance of Melbourne is Yering Station. You probably know the name for their award-winning wines, but have you been to the restaurant yet? Led by Head Chef Ben Smith, the team at Yering use local and sustainable produce from the Yarra Valley because, let’s be honest, they don’t need to look any further. The Yarra Valley is a food and wine paradise with Yering plating up the best of it.
Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel
With 80 per cent of produce grown on-site, the Royal Mail Hotel is Australia’s largest working kitchen garden. They also hold two chef hats for their fine dining venue, Wickins, under the leadership of namesake Executive Chef Robin Wickens. The wine cellar also makes headlines with its 25,000 bottles, including the largest privately owned collection of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines in the southern hemisphere. But clickbait aside, this place is serving up seriously good degustations worth travelling for.
Doot Doot Doot
Is it food? Is it art? Maybe it’s both. They’ve got a chefs hat to show for it though. Doot Doot Doot is part of Jackalope Hotel in Merricks North, and their food is seriously beautiful—almost too gorgeous to eat. Every detail has been refined at this Mornington Peninsula restaurant, from the dark and moody interior which makes the colours on the plate pop, down to the 10,000 globe chandelier which acts as a canopy over the dining space. They’re open for dinner seven days a week, but you’ll need to book to secure a place.
For almost 30 years, Stefano’s Cantina has been bringing Italian flavours to Mildura. What started as a rustic fare with Stefano serving up traditional food from his Venetian homeland, has grown into an award-winning restaurant serving up a five-course Italian feast. Diners from all walks of life travel to enjoy a bit of Stefano hospitality down in the cellars of Mildura’s historic 1889 Grand Hotel. The restaurant still retains that old world charm with traditional flavours and hospitality at the heart of the establishment. Buon appetito.
Fancy staying local? Check out Melbourne’s best restaurants here.
Image credit: Colin Page for Brae