By shirking the standard line-up of entree, main and dessert for a more flexible menu, Tulip is a good pick for most occasions. Whether it’s date night, a long work lunch or oysters and drinks with friends, the restaurant has it covered.
Owners Matt Dempsey and Graham Jefferies met working at a winery but each have some impressive individual experience. Dempsey was the owner of Inverleigh fine diner Gladioli; and Jefferies was sous chef at the Michelin-starred Crown at Whitebrook in the UK. The pair opened Tulip in 2013, to bring food of the same quality to a more casual setting.
The kitchen has an eye on the environment and the local community alike. It donates 100 meals a week to the Geelong Food Relief Centre, and in-house dishes are simple and locally focused, designed to highlight particular produce. Standout ingredients include pork from Ravens Creek Farm, Kinsfolk Farm vegetables and grass-fed beef from O’Connor Beef. Start with lighter plates such as duck cracker with pate and prune puree, before moving onto those designed for sharing (the lamb shoulder, perhaps). If you’re struggling to choose, just ask for the six-course tasting menu.
The space itself is deceiving in size, opening from a small shopfront to a larger dining area. Decor is minimal and light, directing the eye to the feature piece of the restaurant: a beautifully crafted blond timber bar. Behind that you’ll find a concise selection of wine that’s right up with current trends, from South Australian Delinquente vermentino to Austrian Pittnauer blaufränkisch. A larger selection of bottled beers reps Victorian breweries such as Prickly Moses and Holgate.