Jackalope Hotel is the Mornington Peninsula’s new designer hotel, due to open on April 1. But its restaurant, wine bar and produce store, Rare Hare, opens on Saturday.
It will be the first of two restaurants at the site – the other will be fine diner Doot Doot Doot.
“You have two polar opposite places to dine,” says Guy Stanaway, the hotel’s executive chef. Doot Doot Doot is formal; Rare Hare is contemporary and casual, with indoor and outdoor seating.
Melbourne-based design firm Projects of Imagination helmed the fit-out for Rare Hare. There’s clay-brick flooring and a sculptural ceiling, plus a double-sided fireplace. But it’s a handcrafted wood-fire oven that becomes the focal point of the dining space – its rendered in cement that contains ash from Stanaway’s first cook on the site. He uses different wood chips for different dishes, from red gum to vine clippings. The winery’s barrel room is visible from one side of the restaurant.
Both the design and food are intended to be approachable and warm, says Stanaway. (The dishes are made for sharing, and there’s a communal dining set up.)
The menu features dishes such as snapper with smoked mussel butter, lamb rump with harissa and smoked yoghurt, and blue-eye crudo with peach and fried capers.
At the bar, you can do a laid-back wine-tasting and snack on salumi and oysters. Or opt for a private tasting with a larger selection of wine, and small group tours with the property’s winemaker Geraldine McFaul.
The food store stocks locally made items that are used throughout the hotel, such as rhubarb cordial, strawberry jam and a honey sauce.
“The aim is to create something previously unseen in this neighbourhood,” says Stanaway. “For people to walk away saying, ‘There’s no place like this’.”