255 Grubb Road
Wallington VIC 3221
03 5255 1255
Open: Lunch Wed – Sun from 12noon; Dinner Wed – Sat from 6:30pm
As part of my Bellarine adventure, great friend S had booked us into Oakdene winery to have lunch at their award winning restaurant. Can I tell you – the meal was amazing! Well worth the visit to the peninsula alone. But even more than that – their wines are pretty special as well – I have to say I enjoyed every single one of them – which is pretty hard to do when you think about it. Let me tell you more….
Having a quick peruse of the menu, it didn’t take long for us to decide to have the degustation. I opted to have the matched wines, but since great friend S was the designated driver – she decided to have a few glasses rather than indulge in the full plethora of matching wines. Given we had decided all of this over a glass of their Matilda Blanc de Noirs, it was probably a sensible choice!
In the background you can see a bottle of the Oakdene olive oil from their very own olive grove!
After making such a difficult decision – our amuse bouche arrived! Oyster and granita – the oyster was so cool and refreshing – the watermelon & chilli granita perfectly complemented its ocean essence. It was a lovely way to commence our journey of the senses!
And then, our first course arrived – and my amazement commenced. First of all – this dish is art, it is delicate, it is composed. And the components tasted amazing. I said to great friend S that this was a journey in texture – and it truly was. You had the cool, fleshy kingfish, with the cold, wet crunch of the radish and daikon, the creaminess of the avocado, and the real surprise ingredient – the dehydrated sushi rice which was dry and crunchy, and added a real wow factor to the dish. Beautiful.
The matching wine was the 2011 ‘Jessica’ Sauvignon Blanc – which was beautiful. It had a fabulous nose, with the customary gooseberry aroma. But the taste was much smoother than other sauvignon blancs I’ve tasted – this wine spent 6 months on new oak, which is very unusual – but I loved it. It felt it improved the wine – and definitely appealed to my palate more than sauvignon blanc normally would.
Oh my goodness. Hands down dish of the day!! Absolutely, mouthwateringly gorgeous! The pork belly was so tender, unctuous, sticky, meaty, and amazing. The scallop was a tender morsel of sweet flesh, that melded beautifully with the pork. I was a bit hesitant with the raw potato and garlic slaw – but it worked really well. It was flecked with tiny pieces of chilli, giving it a spicy lift, and it added a cool freshness to the dish. The shredded pigs ear was crisp and crunchy and added a completely different textural component. This dish was “to-die-for” – I would happily order it as a main and die a satisfied woman!
The matching wine was the 2011 Pinot Grigio – which was amazing. But unfortunately, they’ve sold out so we couldn’t buy any at the cellar door!! They’re down to their last case in the restaurant, so we were quite lucky to get a taste of it – one to watch out for!
This next dish was a testimony to delicacy. Presented at the table without the stock, it looked like poetry in a dish. You could actually see the tenderness of the crayfish, and the glorious tenuousness of the five spice pumpkin tofu – which had the texture of a delicate pannacotta. There were also viola petals, elderflowers and puffed barley to add to the palette of colours.
The stock was then poured at the table – so that all the flavours could meld together. The waiter at this time told us that the tofu would help to thicken the stock and also warm through the other components. This didn’t happen so much – but the flavours were still beautiful. The dish was on the cooler side – probably about luke warm. However, this did make sure that the crayfish remained tender and wasn’t overcooked – so maybe that was the intention of the chef. A beautiful study of textures and delicate flavours.
The matching wine was the 2008 ‘Elizabeth’ Chardonnay – this was fantastic – buttery, creamy, nutty, yeasty. Exactly what I look for in a chardonnay. Quite a substantial white wine, it had a great mouthfeel, with smooth, spicy after taste. Beautiful.
Another beautifully presented dish – with some great textures. The quail was tender and juicy, and according to our waitress it had been poached in masterstock for 6 hours – it must have been on a very slow heat, because the quail was perfectly cooked to medium. The tempura was really crispy, which held even though there was a jus added over the top. The pickled vegetable salad was fresh, and included some pickled ginger which gave it a warm lift. The chilli jam was sweet, and not too spicy, and the wasabi mayonnaise was creamy. The only let down of this dish was that the nori overwhelmed the delicate flavour of the quail – it had that pungent, musty, seaweed taste all through it, which we both felt detracted from the potential of the dish. This would be a fantastic dish if the nori was left out… but as it was it just missed the mark. Still it was a beautifully conceived dish – and with some slight tweaking could be amazing.
The matching wine for this dish was my favourite – you guessed it – Pinot Noir! 2009 ‘Peta’ Pinot Noir to be exact. It was so silky and smooth – and delivered delicate cherry and mocha flavours. So good, I bought a couple of bottles to take home with me! I also sense a case being purchased in my future…
This dish was another “Oh My Goodness” moment – the wagyu was so tender. It had a very different consistency than usual – being quite smooth, not grainy at all. I queried with Sarah, our fantastic waitress, and she said that it had been slow cooked sous vide before chargrilling. This intrigued me – because Teage Ezard recently got a lampooning from Australian Gourmet Traveller for doing the same thing in his new restaurant in Sydney, Black by ezard (on my wishlist). However, I am here to tell you – this meat was luscious – it was melt in the mouth gorgeous. The creamy potato was one of those equal proportions cream, butter, potato dishes – ’nuff said – and it had been delicately smoked – which gave it this amazing flavour. A fantastic dish!
The matching wine was also a revelation – 2009 ‘William” Shiraz. Not a heavy hitter at all (which I tend to avoid) – it is a finely structured, medium style of shiraz. Again – I enjoyed this one so much I bought a couple of bottles to take home!
And voila! The dessert tasting plate! I know – WOW!!! The two ice-creams were a salted caramel ice-cream, and a crème fraiche sorbet. The salted caramel was my definite favourite of the two! Then the dessert dishes – I didn’t write them down, so I’m relying on a wine soaked memory at this stage… but there was a chocolate marquise enrobed in rich chocolate ganache and garnished with 24 carat gold leaf; a play on lemon meringue pie – with the lightest, creamiest lemon mousse, a sherbet like meringue that had been toasted and smattered with freeze-dried strawberries and topped with a bruléed Wallington strawberry, and sandwiched between the lemon mousse and meringue was a shortbread biscuit with a berry gel; and last but not least – the banana, toffee & espresso cream pie – loved that espresso flavoured mousse. Oh – heaven!
The dessert plate was served with a glass of the 2009 Margan Botrytis Semillon – which was a great complement to the dishes.
Overall, this was an amazing dining experience. A real journey of the senses, with amazing textures and gorgeous flavours. All the wines were brilliant – reflecting excellent wine-making techniques. The service was also exemplary, and special mention should go to Sarah – as she made our dining experience memorable and well informed – because she could answer almost all of our questions, and those she couldn’t, she quickly found out what the answers were. She was extremely personable, friendly and professional.
The grounds of the winery are also a lot of fun – with some great, whimsical sculpture on display.
Oakdene Restaurant provided us with a luxurious degustation – unhurried, it took around 3 hours for us to complete our meal! The menu actually requests that you allow up to 3 hours – and I would echo that sentiment – it was a brilliant, relaxing, indulgent way for the two of us to catch up and spend our time out of the wind that was buffering the peninsula that day. So sit back, relax and let the afternoon unwind. My only recommendation, apart from try everything, is to book ahead, as it is a popular spot for both tourists and locals. I would go again in a heartbeat!!