Address: 255 Grubb Rd, Wallington
Phone: 03 5256 3886

Review by: Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant & Cellar Door

The Oakdene estate includes many attractions. There's the cellar door building (made to look like it's tipped on its side; tipsy?), strollable grounds dotted with sculptures (like the wheelbarrow tree), a decommissioned train and a fine-dining restaurant. Housed in the original gable-ceilinged 1920s house, the main dining room is loudly coloured with collections of art glass and paintings. The food, too, is energetic: many dishes are made up of multiple elements, and the menu changes almost weekly using what's in season. It's also elegant and refined, as in entrees like tender octopus pieces arranged on charry potato discs. Mains might include a crisp-skinned barramundi fillet topped with floured-and-fried calamari served with a scoop each of Oakdene olive tapenade and cauliflower puree; or some prime beef from the grill. A chocolate sorbet and mousse dessert has tiny marshmallows here, 'soil' scattered there, a leaf placed just so. It's a delightful dinner, lunch or day out.

With its brightly coloured collection of buildings, quirky sculptures and dining room that mixes up scarlet walls with timber panelling, no one could accuse Oakdene of being dull. In the main restaurant, the fine-dining menu aims so high you might wonder if they can really pull it off. It's a relief, then, when beautifully plated dishes start to arrive: a flower-like arrangement of cured Queenscliff kingfish and barbequed octopus with pureed avocado, hot pink radish and popcorn that's a lesson in subtle flavouring and texture; a darkly sticky chunk of pork belly with crisp strands of ear; a simply arranged soft-shell crab piled with matchsticks of apple and endive; or a whole crisp sand mullet with garlic, chilli, lime, coriander and a pickled papaya salad. And don't miss the sensational dessert sampler, which might include a mini choc banana pie, a perfect panna cotta and a pair of house-made ice-creams. Service from the young team is exceptional.