Chef Matti Fallon has been thinking about his new restaurant Colt Dining since 2017. But he says the first time he articulated the idea was in 2018 (at the Broadsheet Christmas party, of all places).
The restaurant was originally supposed to open in Byron Bay, where Fallon and his wife lived for a short time in 2019. But the couple, who have a young family, decided to move home to Mornington so they could be closer to family. Byron’s loss is the peninsula’s gain – Colt opened on Main Street in Mornington last month.
Fallon first came to our attention while working at high-end Scandinavian restaurant DuNord on Little Bourke Street back in 2014. After closing the new-Nordic spot and taking on a construction job, the chef opened Princes Pies in the CBD in 2018, before taking up a residency at the Broadsheet Kitchen at Saint Crispin back in 2019.
He says that his focus has shifted more towards “relaxed contemporary food” over the last few years and he now lets location and proximity to produce, instead of culinary style, influence what he cooks.
“The peninsula is a mecca of small producers, which makes me feel like a kid in a candy store, really,” says the chef. At Colt, he’s focused on cooking local ingredients and even forages some of the produce used in the restaurant. Dishes include yabby toast, kelp-wrapped barramundi and Otway-grown shiitake mushrooms cooked over coals.
The drinks menu is mostly focused on cocktails. Here, beverage manager Zac Abbot elevates classics with a fruity twist. Highlights include a Spanish olive and caperberry Dirty Martini, and a rhubarb and homemade lemon curd Gimlet.
The 95-seat venue was built with an “abstract, to say the least” design brief. Everything draws from the 1970s, and the chef says references included sci-fi, a cool grandpa’s rumpus room, Japanese jazz kissas (or listening cafes) and Italian discotheques.
A large bar runs the length of the restaurant and houses the open kitchen. It has a ’70s curve and is painted spacesuit orange. Diners can take a seat at the bar and watch Fallon and the team as they work. Chestnut-brown-coloured wooden shelves line the back of the bar, where the top rack displays Colt Dining’s impressive vinyl collection.
Fallon worked in the film industry as a music supervisor in a past life, so it’s no surprise that music is a key part of Colt Dining. He says the team plays to the room. “Rather than the classic restaurant playlists, we choose our records depending on the feel of the dining room to ensure every experience is different,” he says.
Frequently blasting out of the Janszen speakers at the moment are Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Cosmo’s Factory, the Avalanches’ Wildflower and the Beastie Boys’ The In Sound From Way Out. There are also DJs on the weekend so, in Fallon’s words, “it’s always a vibe”.
9A Main Street Mornington
Wed & Thurs 5pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–11pm