Beautiful, quirky and abstract sculptures are located throughout the estate, starting from just across the restaurant porch. The wetlands walk (which only takes about 10 minutes or so) will take you on a big tour around the olive grove, and bring you right back to the restaurant.
Artist to Antarctica – Hannah Kidd
From around February to March each year, Montalto Restaurant and Winery also runs a sculpture exhibition, which presents the opportunity of securing a $30,000 prize and the possibility of the sculpture becoming a permanent addition to the Montalto collection. The owners’ love of nature, growth and sustainability therefore provides families, couples and tourists alike with a unique opportunity to retreat from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne, and also provides a unique place for both emerging and established artists to express themselves in a naturally gorgeous setting.
With the restaurant typically packed to the brim on the weekend by 12pm, we were lucky to secure a table beside the window. With the sun rays peeking through the windows and casting light on the wooden chairs and panelling, the restaurant oozed relaxed elegance and sophistication. For those looking for a lazy lunch (or dinner), Montalto offers two or three course a la carte dining options for $72 or $85 respectively.
Smoked trout salad ($21)
The deconstructed smoked trout salad was beautifully presented with dollops of chive mayonnaise, slices of roasted cauliflower fritatta, raisin puree, braised celery, and slices of radish. For all of us, this was our favourite dish of the day – the trout was cooked perfectly and paired perfectly with the creamy richness of the mayonnaise and fritatta. It was damn good.
Goat’s cheese souffle ($19)
The goat’s cheese souffle was served atop a salad of zuchinni and swipes of basil pesto. Despite being light and fluffy, the souffle was a generous serving and reminded us a little bit of heart-warming, home-made quiche.
Roasted lamb duo ($46)
Unfortunately, the lamb main was a bit of a let down. Served with spaetzle, Jerusalem artichoke, shallot and parsley mousseline, we found the lamb rather tough and chewy. The spaetzle was bland and did not go well with the lamb itself – it ended up being left largely untouched on the plate. Visually, it was mouth-wateringly delicious. Taste-wise…well, looks can be deceiving.
Pan-roasted snapper fillet ($38)
Sadly, the snapper followed the path of the lamb duo. Whilst the snapper itself was perfectly cooked, the pool of lemon verbena emulsion surrounding it was relatively bland and lacked the punch that was needed to tie the plate together. It was served with leek risotto cake and mussels, which on the bright side were well-cooked but again lacked flavour due to the dullness of the lemon verbena.
It seems a little bit a let down that, despite the beautiful presentation and gorgeous venue, each of us found that the mains either lacked in flavour or were over cooked. Perhaps if we had ordered the main of duck with pecan fondant (which we understand is one of their more popular dishes), we wouldn’t have had the same issue. Whilst there are other wineries in the region offering better food, the uniqueness of the Montalto estate, with its picturesque gardens and intriguing sculptures, will ensure that it will continually draw back those looking for a perfect place to feel at home with nature.Food: 5.5/10 Service: 5/5 Ambience: 5/5 TOTAL: 15.5/20