|The vineyards at Oakdene – they are also growing lavender alongside|
I’m not complaining though about the increasing interest in food, wine and art over the other side of the heads. The grounds of Oakdene are scattered with whimsical and interesting sculptures and groupings of found objects like rusty old bikes which would be an eyesore individually but together are a thing of beauty. There are collections of old teapots and a tasting room that is designed to look like an upside down house. You can almost picture Dorothy emerging post tornado and clicking her red shoes together.
|Beetroot and goats cheese starter|
The food at Oakdene is equally innovative. The chef is Marty Chichester and his emphasis is on local and seasonal food. The locals secret is the “express” lunch menu of two courses for $35 available on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It’s terrific value and my Mum took me there to try it out. Complimentary bread and olives began the meal. The crusty baguette was served warm with garlic and chive crème fraiche while the olives were slick with olive oil and dotted with tangy orange peel.
|Pork, chicken and pistachio terrine|
To start there was a tiny but delectable concoction of roasted circles of beetroot sandwiching a round of goats cheese. It was sweet and creamy with added crunch through some toasted pine nuts scattered on top. The more substantial offering was the pork, chicken and pistachio terrine. It was rustic and chunky. Served with sourdough bread it could have been a satisfying lunch in itself rather than just a starter.
|Fish cake on samphire|
Fat, bronzed and crumbed fishcake was made with snapper, a change from the usual salmon and potato combinations. The fish was wonderfully light and not filled out too much by the potato. It was served on a bed of tangy bright green samphire.
|Roasted chat potatoes|
A side of roasted chat potatoes (an additional $8 on top of the set menu) were crisp and crunchy with fluffy, soft insides. The stuff addictions are made from.
|One of the garden sculptures|
Service at Oakdene is excellent with well trained and attentive waiters. The sole hitch in proceedings was the limited wine selection. The only wines available by the glass are Oakdene’s own wines which seems a bit restrictive particularly as I was not sold on the chardonnay I tried. Still it’s a minor complaint for what was a lovely experience at a restaurant and setting that is bold enough to ask something of its diners.
Details: Oakdene, 255 Grubb Road,Wallington, Victoria 3221, Australia (Ph 03 5255 1255) Open: 12 -2.30pm, Wed-Sat 6.30-9.30pm.
Damage: Reasonable if you have the express $35 lunch.
Gourmet Travel Tips
- Oakdene is on the back road from Geelong to Ocean Grove, about one and a half hours drive from Melbourne.
- You can do some wine tasting and wander the gardens admiring the sculptures.
- There is B and B accomodation at Oakdene from $220 a night. I had a peek in the rooms and liked the rustic but kooky water room where the bathroom is inside a water tank.