Red Hill (Gourmet Chick on the Mornington Peninsula)

Easter is sadly over for another year and as I type this the rain is lashing down outside signaling an abrupt end to the lovely summery days we had over the break.  Easter is one of my favourite holidays as there is complete carte blanche for over indulgence on chocolates and hot cross buns.  The benefit of two public holidays also means I generally try to join the great Easter exodus and head away for the holiday.  Living in London that meant a flight to Lebanon or Morocco but now back in Melbourne I spent my first Easter at Red Hill the home of beautiful surf beaches, rolling green farmland, berry farms and wineries.  Here’s my tips for where to eat and where to stay in this beautiful part of Victoria.

The view from Morning Sun Winery

Morning Sun Winery
Sitting in the sunshine looking out over the vines while sipping a glass of Morning Sun’s buttery chardonnay has to be one of those “pinch me” moments.  This little winery has a really interesting list of wines for tasting (we loved the light and fragrant Pinot Noir almost as much as the chardonnay) as well as some cracking food on offer.  The winery has been listed in the Age Good Food Guide thanks to its lightly charred wood fired pizzas ($23) and to-die-for fat polenta chips ($14) which come complete with a creamy Gorgonzola sauce.  This is a winery with it all – a spectacular setting, food that is a cut above and of course wine straight from the cellar door. Don’t miss it if you are in Red Hill.

Those fabulous polenta chips

Details:  Morning Sun, 337 Main Creek Road  Main Ridge Vic 3928 (Ph: 03 5989 6571)
Damage: Reasonable. $50 a head.

Oysters at the Flinders Hotel
Flinders Hotel
We ended up eating lunch at 3pm at the Flinders Hotel because it was so busy over Easter but that did not detract from the pleasure of a few leisurely glasses of wine on the deck of this decidedly slick country pub.  The menu was seafood heavy so oysters served natural ($3.50 each) made a perfect start and they tasted oh so fresh and briny.  Salt and pepper squid ($22) was also fresh with a delicate and lightly spiced batter that did not overwhelm the seafood.  I must admit though to serious food envy of my friend Jo’s marinara which was chock full of plump prawns and mussels and a huge serving for an entrée size.

Squid at the Flinders Hotel

Details: Flinders Hotel, Cnr Cook and Wood Streets, Flinders Vic 3929 (Ph 03 5989 0201)

Damage: Reasonable. $50 a head.  


Mussels from the Flinders pier
One of my favourite discoveries this holiday was the fisherman selling local mussels at the end of the Flinders pier.  You can’t get any fresher than this as the mussels are straight off the boat.  Harry will advise you how many mussels you need and give you tips for cooking them.  There’s no need to discard these little beauties if they don’t open as they are farmed rather than dredged so water quality is not an issue (plus it is much better for the environment).  We cooked them up with some local sauvignon blanc, onions, chilli and garlic.

Harry the mussels man at Flinders pier

Details: Saturdays and holidays 11.30-4.30, Flinders pier, Flinders Vic
Damage: $10 a kilo.  Bargain. 

McCrae Pavilion
The McCrae Pavilion looks like it has been transported straight from the Hamptons with its white wicker chairs and salvaged timber furniture.  The restaurant was so busy over Easter that despite booking several days ahead we had to eat at the senior citizens time of 6pm and then get bumped to the bar by 8.30pm.  Slick service meant we did not feel to rushed and managed to fit in three courses in that time.  Arancini balls were perfect snack food to begin our meal with their crusty exterior and jet back filling thanks to squid ink risotto.  The highlight of the main courses was the amazing seafood platter which could easily have fed three for a reasonable $80.  The platter included prawns, oysters, crabs and Moreton bay bugs so I would not have been surprised to see a $120 price tag on it elsewhere.  Very indulgent but just the ticket for the holidays.

Arancini at the McCrae Pavilion
Details: McCrae Pavilion, 671 Point Nepean Road  McCrae Vic 3938, (Ph: 03 5971 1202)
Damage: Pricey.  Our bill came to about $100 a head but we did drink quite a lot of wine.  
Our room at Lindenderry

Gourmet Travel Tips

  • Red Hill is just over one hours drive from Melbourne.  
  • On this trip I stayed with my friend Ash who has a beach house nearby but last year I went to two good friends wedding in Red Hill and stayed at the beautiful Lindenderry Estate.  Set in the middle of a winery the grounds here are spectacular while rooms have all the comforts like fluffy bath robes and a selection of magazines. (Lindenderry, 142 Arthurs Seat Rd, Red Hill Ph: 61 3 5989 2933).  From $293 a night. 
  • We spent our time eating, drinking, swimming at Point Leo and checking out the local wineries.  
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  1. Victorians are really fortunate to have so many great places so close by to them to spend the weekend. I really liked the time we spent at Red Hill! 🙂

  2. I seriously wouldn’t have shared those fat polenta chips!

  3. Ahhh love the peninsula! So many places I haven’t heard of, thanks for showing me 😀

  4. Aaaw yeah, those polenta chips are indeed amazing. Love this part of VIC, so much to do and see. Thanks for the tips!

  5. Lorraine – Oh I did not realise you had been there – will have to look up your posts

    Andi – It was difficult I admit…

    Iron Chef Shellie – Yes there is a lot to see (and eat) there…

    Adrian – Still dreaming about the chips…

  6. Lucky girl! Sounds amazing. x LZ

  7. and hopefully you got to 10 Minutes by Tractor, Paringa Estate and the very modern Kooyong Estate as well……… from recollection all three have restaurants but that is hardly the main reason to go.

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