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Ela Carte reviews The Cups Estate, Fingal and Port Phillip Estate, Red Hill

A tale of two wineries: The Cups Estate, Fingal; and Port Phillip Estate, Red Hill

www.thecupsestate.com.au and www.portphillipestate.com.au

Review One

Where better to head for an unseasonably warm October long weekend but the Mornington Peninsula – so close to Melbourne, and so much to do. 

Thought I’d give you a couple of dining options for the area – one fabulously casual, the other decidedly more fancy.

Over the back of the Peninsula in Fingal, The Cups Estate is perfectly located if you’re planning a visit to the local hot springs, or just want to get away from the busier, more well-known wineries. Set on a hill overlooking their own vines and olive grove, it boasts a small dining room, and some outdoor tables which we snapped up on this sunny day. 

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I just loved how laid back this place was. The menu is full of easy but tasty snacks, there’s no rush, we ordered fun share plates one at a time, sipped sparkling shiraz and cold rose, and enjoyed the view. 

Started with tostadas – round corn tortilla chips with a tasty, creamy mixture of mushroom and sweet potato, caramelised onion, sesame, chipotle and lime cream; then moved onto ham hock and leek croquettes; and a lovely roast beetroot salad with fresh pear, goats cheese, pine nuts and vincotto dressing. 

Service was relaxed and friendly, this place was great for families (all kids on site had a roll down the grass on the hill, so did a couple of the adults), you can even borrow a picnic rug and eat at ground level. I loved it. 

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Review Two 

Upping the dress code a notch and for the evening we were off to Port Phillip Estate. Esteemed eatery, this hatted restaurant is as attractive to look at as its offerings are to eat.

You’ll miss those stunning views at night, and your entrance may be a little mystifying (following the landing lights from the car park to the mysteriously automatic opening heavy door), but the rest of your experience is bound to be sublime any time of day.

It’s a set menu, you can go for two or three courses, and you’ll have a choice of around four or five options for each.

We both went for the lamb sweetbreads ? which came with spiced freekah and pureed black garlic, I was surprised with just how much flavour these packed. Rich red colour to the grains, and that ink black garlic boasts a much sweeter tang to your garden variety garlic. It was a great start.

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For the main, my rolled rabbit loin was perfection, a beautifully warming dish ?sitting on a combination of fresh peas, kaiserfleisch, and morel mushrooms. It was a stunner.

To finish, choose from a list of delectable European and local cheeses, go for an indulgent dessert, or share one of each ? the chocolate mousse with banana and salted caramel is a tough ask for one person to get through without a resulting sugar coma.

It’s not a budget offering ? three courses will set you back $85, or on this Grand Final Eve public holiday $95 with a surcharge, but as my old dad would say ? you get what you pay for.

These are obviously just a couple of the myriad of dining options on the Mornington Peninsula, but they’re a worthy couple. 

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