Mornington Peninsula Food Guide Johnny Ripe baked goods final

Travel: Mornington Peninsula Food Mini Guide

The Mornington Peninsula is Victoria’s original playground. Only an hour’s drive from Melbourne, its food and wine offerings are as well-known as its beaches and seaside towns.  There’s been a wave of new openings in the last year or so. Taking in some old favourites and some new ones, here’s our Mornington Peninsula Food Mini Guide, just in time for summer.


Mornington Peninsula Food Guide Cook and NormanCook and Norman’s risotto of pumpkin, sage, goat’s cheese and hazelnuts


Cook and Norman – 1/52 Cook St, Flinders

Facebook: Cook and Norman

Instagram: @cook_and_norman

I’m biased because we had our wedding at Cook and Norman’s sister restaurant, Terre, which has subsequently closed. Husband and wife chef team Rowan and Janine Herrald and front of house manager Clint Trevisi have turned their attention to this casual Italian trattoria, which is named for its location on the corner of Cook and Norman streets in sleepy Flinders.  The short, seasonal menu focuses on homemade pasta. I loved the simple but stunning risotto of pumpkin, sage, goat’s cheese and hazelnuts. Desserts are classic – think tiramisu, panna cotta and affogato – but have the deft touch of an experienced pastry chef in Janine. She is also making sweet treats for “little sister’’ Sorellina, a daytime coffee, cake and lunch spot out the back. Bonus points also for being one of the few places on the Peninsula open on Sunday nights.



Ten Minutes by Tractor – 1333 Mornington-Flinders Rd, Main Ridge

Twitter: @10Xtractor

Instagram: @10Xtractor

Ten Minutes by Tractor is the little restaurant and winery that could. Named after three vineyards that are ten minutes by tractor apart, the restaurant is small by Peninsula standards. But it, and the accompanying wine list, have won a swag of awards and accolades. Owner Martin Spedding famously lost a bet with his staff and had to take them to Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in England when the restaurant was awarded two hats in the 2013 Age Good Food guide. Chef Stuart Bell has an impressive CV. He has previously worked with Philippe Mouchel at Paul Bocuse and Jacques Reymond.  The seasonal menu focuses on top quality local produce with clear nods to Chef Bell’s French training and some Asian and European undertones. There’s a curated photo gallery of the current menu on the restaurant’s website for those who want to eat with their eyes before they visit. I loved the ocean trout entrée with different textures of cauliflower and a coffee and chocolate dessert from the winter 2015 menu but the dish that stands out in my mind was a lemon curd, crispy crepe and marshmallow combination from my first visit in winter 2011.  Restaurant Manager Graham Kinsey leads a cracker team. Service is all about the little details from homemade beurre noisette (caramelised Mrytleford butter) to accompany bread expertly quenelled at the side of the table, to petite fours as you pay, and jackets which are magically warmed when you put them on as you leave.


Port Phillip Estate – 263 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill South

Port Phillip Estate is one of those restaurants where the experience starts before you sit down. Diners for the restaurant and drinkers for the cellar door are greeted by what looks like a giant limestone wall, albeit a very sleek one designed by Wood/Marsh Architecture. Once inside the automatically opening door it’s all about the view, a combination of vines and Westernport Bay.  The menu offers a choice of four entrees, four or five main courses and four desserts. Order the suckling pig if it is an option. Dessert might be a special of deconstructed cannoli with local ricotta, cannoli shards and toffee chips or something dark and sinful using Michel Cluizel chocolate.


The Spuntino Bar at T’gallant – 1385 Mornington Flinders Rd, Main Ridge

I count T’gallant’s rustic pizzas as one of life’s simple pleasures. Dough simply topped with tomato, salami, roasted onion and pecorino or perhaps mushrooms, gorgonzola and parsley is served as a rectangular slab cut into bite-sized squares. The Spuntino Bar keeps with the rustic theme. Think wooden tables, order at the counter and grab your own cutlery and water. The Spuntino Bar is only open for lunch and takes bookings for groups of 10 or more, who must dine on a set menu. Go early on weekends, especially if it’s sunny as the picnic tables outside are particularly popular.


Mornington Peninsula Food Guide Polperro copyPolperro’s wood-grilled king prawns


Polperro – 150 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill

Facebook: Polperro by Even Keel

Instagram: @polperrowines

Polperro nails casual modern Italian with a stunning outlook to boot. Renowned interior designer Hecker Guthrie has created a beautiful space with a Scandinavian beach house vibe. Food wise, you can’t beat the parmesan churros as a starter. I’ve had the masterstock fried chicken a couple of times and loved the combination of Asian-inspired chicken with traditional Italian ingredients in polenta and radicchio.  If you’ve got a couple of people it’s nice to share some of the larger dishes. The wood-grilled king prawns with Harissa butter and slow cooked lamb shoulder, salsa verde and smoked yoghurt both packed big, bold flavours. Finish with the chocolate fondant with tonka bean ice cream and crisp buckwheat. Polperro is my pick for a long, lazy lunch with friends.



Barn & Co. – Mrs Nicks Vineyard,  238 Myers Rd, Balnarring

Instagram: @barnandco1

Barn & Co. is the latest venture from Peninsula hospitality veterans Bernard and Rachael McCarthy, formerly of Salix at Willow Creek.  The Balnarring bistro is literally in a barn, albeit one with festoon lights, fireplace and on-trend washable paper bags for cutlery. The menu features a bunch of tapas – there might be manchego croquettes or chorizo with apple matchsticks – a couple of larger main courses like slow roasted lamb shoulder with broccolini and peas and some pizzas.  Service is warm but still manages to be casual and relaxed.  There’s a large open space out the front for kids to frolic. Barn & Co nails its bistro brief and is perfect when you want great food but aren’t in the mood for three courses of fine dining or a degustation.


Mornington Peninsula Food Guide Johnny Ripe Doughnuts final

Johnny Ripe – 284 Main Creek Rd, Main Ridge

Facebook: Johnny Ripe 

Instagram: @johnnyripe

‘I know this great little place’, must be the six words that every foodie loves to hear. Johnny Ripe is one of those places. The Main Ridge farm gate bakery and café is known for its apple pies. The café is open for lunch Thursday to Sunday. It has a short and simple menu – pies and sausage rolls with buttery, flaky pastry and a couple of cooked to order dishes. There’s also a selection of pre made meals. Make sure you grab a couple of apple pies to take home. If that’s not your thing, Johnny Ripe does a mean vanilla slice and giant, Ottolenghi-style meringues.

(Post written by Amelia Harris)



For wine loving foodies visiting the Mornington Peninsula, make sure you take a look at Wine Compass who organise tailored wine tours of the region.


Instagram: @winecompass



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