Just as I was complaining that there didn’t seem to be much new out and about on the Peninsula, Jackalope lands and what a thing it is.  If you remember Salix and the Willow Creek cellar door, well think again – it is all changed, and I mean really changed.  Just getting your head round the names is a challenge that requires several glasses of Pinot Noir.

As I understand it, Jackalope is the name of the hotel itself, which has 46 rooms, from the standard “Terrace” room up to the much larger “Lairs”.

Doot Doot Doot (and no that is not a typo) is the name of the super snazzy restaurant in Jackalope.

Jackalope 1

The Jackalope hotel on the site of the Willow Creek vineyard.  I’m very glad they kept the old house – that has become the new hotel reception area.

Rare Hare is the bit you might recognise from the old cellar door and Salix restaurant.  They’ve lowered the floor to one level across the building.  Diners sit at long tables, and the food is very much inspired by the things you can cook in a wood fired oven.

Rare Hare 1

The dining room at Rare Hare.

The Willow Creek cellar door has taken rather a step back in the midst of all this shiny newness.  I did manage to get a tasting, and Geraldine McFaul is still doing a great job with the Willow Creek wines.  The Rare Hare thing has allowed her to produce two new wines under that label – a white blend and a Pinot Noir rose both of which were most quaffable and at $28 a bottle a good price for the Peninsula.

Reports are that the food in Rare Hare is pretty good, although while the staff are getting the hang of the place keep an eye on where your orders are going.  I heard one story about a Kangaroo tartare (yes, that’s a thing) ending up on the wrong table.  The diners there, although well into their desserts, didn’t question the appearance of this dish and happily got stuck in.  Maybe they thought it was a rhubarb compote?

This kind of investment means that prices within Jackalope are not going to be cheap.  The word is that some rooms within the hotel are $650 a night.  But there are people out there who can afford it.  More importantly though it represents a huge show of confidence in the Mornington Peninsula as a destination, and it’s employing far more people than the old operation.  I hope it works out well for the new owners.  I’m just glad that Willow Creek wines are back in their old home albeit under very different circumstances.

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The monumental statue of the Jackalope