I had the loveliest weekend with ten girlfriends on the Mornington Peninsula. We headed there on Saturday for a long lunch at Red Hill Epicurean then spent the night in Sorrento finishing the next morning with a walk on the beach. We weren’t the only big group of girls at Red Hill Epicurean which was like the female equivalent of a beer barn but serving Victorian pinot gris instead of pilsner.
The first thing that hits you is the sheer scale of Red Hill Epicurean. The huge metal shed with its soaring ceilings is cozy thanks to exposed brick walls and wood fired pizza ovens blazing away in the partly open kitchen. The restaurant aims to showcase local produce and wine so there’s a bar area where you can taste wines from all the different wineries in the area and enomatic wine machines which you can help yourself from.
Simple things like bread and olives ($8) to start were done really well. The bread is baked on site and was so good that we bought up more to takeaway for the next day’s breakfast.
The Italian style menu is all about classics like pizza and pasta all using as many ingredients from the Mornington Peninsula as possible. Home made pappardelle pasta was a rich egg yolk yellow and thick ribbons of it were studded with tiny, sweet clams and flecked with garlic and chilli ($26.50).
The risotto ($26) was cooked to perfectly creamy, buttery rice and topped with slow roasted Jerusalem artichoke and goats curd. A few lone strands of wild garlic topped it off. I’m a big wild garlic fan and haven’t come across it much in Australia so it was good to see a more unusual ingredient featured on the menu.
Red Hill Epicurean is perfect for a long, girly lunch or to get a taste for the region’s wine and produce before setting out to explore the wineries in more depth.
Details: Red Hill Epicurean,165 Red Hill-Shoreham Rd, Red Hill 3937 (Ph 03 5989 4000) Open 8am – late.