The restaurant at Montalto has reopened following a three-week break from service. For 15 years, it’s been a benchmark for dining on the Mornington Peninsula.
Things have changed markedly in that time. “People want to be less prescriptive. They want to be able to make their own choices, and either have a big meal or a small meal, depending on how they feel at the time,” says John Mitchell, who owns the property with his wife Wendy. “The changes we’ve made in the Montalto restaurant really provide for that.”
In the past, diners were committed two or three courses, or a full tasting menu. Now it’s possible to just have a main or share a number of small dishes. In the kitchen, head chef Gerard Phelan is using a new wood-fired grill to fire proteins and estate-grown veggies such as white asparagus and globe artichokes.
“Without being too proud of ourselves, 15 years ago we started something that changed the nature of food available in the area,” Mitchell says. “And we want to continue to do that. By making these sort of cooking shifts, it helps in that process.”
The tablecloths are also gone, to reveal natural walnut tables built by Zac Pearton at ZP Woodworks. A new raised, 12-seat chef’s table offers a window into Phelan’s world; and the alcove-like bar has been opened up and given a better view of the rolling vineyard below. The Piazza, where you may have eaten pizza before, is unchanged since its renovation last summer.
This month the Mitchells also took over Tuck’s Ridge, the winery next door. They’ve renovated the main building and Phelan is overseeing the menu there too. Between them, the two properties encompass 75 acres, 40 of those under vine.
“We’ll have connecting pathways between the two, but it’ll be a separate operation,” Mitchell says. “That’s the way we intend to keep it, because Tuck’s has a strong historical following – it was planted back in 1985, it’s been there for a long time.”
33 Red Hill-Shoreham Road, Red Hill South
(03) 5989 8412
Hours (Dec 26 to Jan 7)
Wed & Thu 11am–5pm
Fri to Tue 11am–9pm
Hours (Jan 8 to Jan 28)
Wed, Thu & Sun 11am–5pm
Fri, Sat, Mon & Tue 11am–9pm
Hours (Jan 29 to Apr 30)
Sun to Thu 11am–5pm
Fri & Sat 11am–9pm