Merne at Lighthouse
A 25-minute drive from Geelong is Drysdale – and a restaurant that pulls visitors from far beyond the Bellarine Peninsula. But don’t go looking for an actual lighthouse; despite its seaside location, Merne at Lighthouse gets its name from its vantage point overlooking Lighthouse Oil’s expansive olive grove.
Perched up high, the expansive dining room has panoramic views of the surrounding area, with that scenic olive grove and a developing vineyard up front, and coastline and farmland further ahead. It’s perfect in summer or winter: there’s a fireplace in the dining room for cold weather, plus a large deck to dine on when the sun’s out.
The food here is rustic and comforting: big sharing plates of meat and fish, and comforting sides and grazing plates peppered with Australian ingredients such as kangaroo and finger lime. Head chef Josh Smith honed his skills at Dunkeld’s Royal Mail Hotel, a regional restaurant with a similar appreciation for local ingredients.
Choose from a four- or two-course feast and match it with something from the extensive wine list, which features local and international drops along with lots of craft beer options.