52 Great Weekends

No 42: Greatest Dining

A foodie road trip to the most exciting dining destinations on the Great Ocean Road.

Let your tastebuds lead the way on this driving degustation along the Great Ocean Road. Explore all the culinary delights coastal Victoria has to offer – Italian farmhouse kitchens, world famous dining destinations, historic dining rooms, boat to belly seafood, ocean-front fine dining and some of the state’s best produce served straight from the Otways. Make sure to pack your appetite for this ultimate gourmet getaway.

La Cantina - Torquay

Start your degustation driving adventure at the Italian farmhouse kitchen and gardens of La Cantina. Here, the self-grown produce is the star. Settle in for a long lunch celebrating simple Italian flavours – hand-made pastas, sustainably sourced meat and locally sourced produce from the Surfcoast and the Otways, all served up with market garden views.

The Coast - Anglesea

Try the newest fine dining restaurant on the coast in Anglesea – The Coast. Executive Chef, Chris Barlow takes only the best locally sourced produce to create Australian fusion dishes and sharing plates so carefully constructed they look like artworks. Fitting really, as the mission of this modern Australian restaurant is to showcase local produce and Surf Coast artists – the dinnerware is hand-made by Surfcoast artist Angela Nicholson, water jugs by ceramicist, Melinda Solly and the bar is stocked by local makers such as Great Ocean Road Gin and Timboon Distillery. It’s like a gourmet harvest trail that comes to you in the comfort of a luxury, romantically firelit, fine dining restaurant. Bon Appètit!

Brae - Birregurra

Brae translates to hillside or gentle slope and that’s exactly where chef Dan Hunter’s world-renowned restaurant, guest suites and working organic farm are located – the rolling hills of Birregurra. Consistently recognised as of the World’s 50 Best, Brae feels less like a restaurant and more like a welcoming country house where guests can be surrounded by nature, walk the farm paths and connect with the sustainable, ethical and regenerative food from the local land. The ever-changing degustation menu is served like a leisurely long lunch, guests graze on at their own pace with rounds of fresh seafood, meat and veggies, and desserts.

Coda - Lorne

Sit back and relax with a seaside seafood and champagne lunch at coastal chic, Coda Lorne. It started as a summer pop up at the Lorne Hotel and due to overwhelming success is now a permanent addition. Enjoy the floor to ceiling ocean views and modern Asian menu with a distinctively local take – think ocean-fresh, seasonal seafood with a Cantonese and Thai twist. You can’t go past the crispy prawn betel leaves and Cantonese duck.

Lorne Hotel is fast becoming a dining Mecca on the Great Ocean Road – with Movida on the ground floor (see below), the pub in the middle and Coda now up the top!

MoVida - Lorne

Get dressed up and ready for the mouth-watering dinner at MoVida. A Melbourne favourite, Movida brings their spectacular Spanish style dining and serves it up with ocean views and only the best Victorian produce. It was hard to pick a favourite out of the Anchoa (Hand-filled Cantabrian Artisan Anchovy on Crouton with Smoked Tomato Sorbet), Pea, Mint & Buffalo Cheese Croqueta, Lamb Backstrap Tartare, Heirloom Tomato and Whipped Ricotta Salad or the Whole Flounder in Saffron butter.

The Birdhouse - Apollo Bay

Some of the best seafood in the country only has to travel across the road to this beachfront boutique restaurant perched on top of the main street of Apollo Bay – The Birdhouse. It’s no wonder the restaurant celebrates locally caught fish served up with a carefully curated wine and cocktail list. Sit back with freshly shucked oysters, locally caught Southern Rock Lobster and a pan full of the signature seafood paella while you enjoy the views of the spectacular Apollo Bay beach and foreshore. You can even see the fishing boats coming in from the restaurants sweeping ocean views.

Timboon Railway Shed Distillery

Timboon’s historic railway shed has been converted into a vibrant, award-winning whisky distillery and café. Inspired by Timboon’s illegal 19th Century whisky trade the two onsite copper pots produce three award winning single malts as well as vodka, schnapps, limoncello and coffee cream liqueur. Enjoy a pre-lunch tipple that’s sure to put a fire in the belly, soon to be satisfied with the restaurants generous lunch menu starring local produce. The fare is designed to share and if you can’t decide let the kitchen choose four surprise dishes for you. It’ll make sure there’s no food envy when mouth-watering dishes such as the Crispy Port Belly bao buns, crispy fried chicken with apple slaw tortillas and pan fried artisan haloumi come out.

The Perch - Lavers Hill

Feast up with the birds on the highest point of the Great Ocean Road, half an hour from the 12 Apostles. Nestled between lush rainforest of the Great Otway National Park and beautiful gardens you’ll find a modern contemporary fine dining dinner menu and extensive wine selection that celebrates the produce of this bountiful region. Dine on Blue Fin tuna carpaccio, Burrata Cheese with local fresh figs, confit Great Ocean Road Duck, house-made falafels and cold smoked watermelon ‘tuna’ soba noodles.

The sprawling garden views makes The Perch at Lavers Hill a truly tranquil place for a meal or a drink prepared by the friendly in-house kitchen and bar staff. They know how to throw a party too with regular live music, trivia nights, and more.

The Dart & Marlin - Warrnambool

Looking for a live music and gourmet stone-baked pizza on the Great Ocean Road? Look no further than the cocktails and kitchen of The Dart & Marlin but don’t forget to book! After dark is when this eclectic bar comes alive with live bands, DJ streams, specialist cocktails and flowing boutique wine and local craft beers. Whether you want to cosy up by the fire, bunker down in a private booth or dine ‘en plein air’ in the vine covered courtyard Dart & Marlin will deliver the perfect backdrop to your night out in Warrnambool.

The Wharf - Port Fairy

You can’t stay in a famous fishing village like Port Fairy without trying the local goods! We couldn’t go past the relaxed and lively atmosphere of the The Wharf. This iconic Modern Australian restaurant is located on the waters-edge of the Moyne River – only metres from where the local fisherman unloaded their catch only hours ago.

Whether you are looking for classic take-away fish & chips or to dine-in on the innovative, seasonal menu, seafood doesn’t come fresher than this. We ordered the seafood platter for 2 and the chef’s generous assortment of oysters (fresh and Kilpatrick), prawns, cured trout, zesty mussels, garlic scallops and seared salmon paired with a bottle of local Riesling. It was the perfect way to finish the day.

Merrijig Inn - Port Fairy

You can’t visit Port Fairy without booking a table at the historic dining room at the Merrijig Inn, Victoria’s oldest inn. Enjoy cocktails in the enchanting cottage garden whilst listening to live local folk music before enjoying a decadent degustation in Victoria’s oldest dining room. A new menu is written daily showcasing the best produce from the Merrijig garden and local farmers. Chef Tanya Connellan uses traditional and European techniques to create her magic – flavourful hearty dishes that nearly look too good to eat.

Izzy’s Restaurant - Koroit

Step into the striking, modern interior of Izzy’s. This cosmopolitan dining experience in the historic Irish township of Koroit serves up European influenced seafood, sizzling steaks and delicious share plates with an eclectic wine and craft beer list. This family ran business thrives on their shared passion for quality produce, much of which comes from their own restaurant garden in nearby Dunkeld.

Start your meal with a selection of dips served with warm flat bread, fresh oysters and tempura jalapenos stuffed with herb and seasoned cheese. Followed by Seafood Bouillabailse and Beef Eye Fillet Wellington topped with shaved truffles plucked from the soil that day. Then move to the fireside lounge for an after-dinner cocktail and an impossible to resist dessert – make sure to try the Snow Egg or Caramel and White Chocolate Apple.

Clock by the Bay - Portland

This award-winning restaurant is bursting with French Provincial charm. With harbor views it’s one of the most stylish dining experiences in the area. Let the chef choose for you and enjoy the ‘Feed me’ menu – a selection of the chef’s favourite plates that celebrate the season and local produce.

Albion Hotel - Casterton

This grand historic hotel has stood proudly in its prime position on the main street for over 100 years. Nestled in the valley of the Casterton township it is central to all of Casterton’s main attractions with the banks of the Glenelg River and start of the Kelpie Walking trail are only 50m away.

Taste the best of Casterton hospitality served up by the Albion Hotel’s incredibly talented in-house international chef, Andy Beswick. You’ll find delicious country classics dished up with fine dining flair on his every changing bistro menu.

Watch the episode

Top 5 things that made the weekend great

  • Dining at Brae – one of the world’s Top 50 restaurants

  • Being spoilt for choice of dining destinations at the Lorne Hotel

  • Getting a table in one of Victoria’s oldest dining rooms at The Merrijig Inn

  • Boat to belly seafood with ocean views at The Birdhouse, Apollo Bay

  • Fine dining with the birds at The Perch

Pack an appetite for this driving degustation along the Great Ocean Road.


 

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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.