Archives for posts with tag: Salix

A while ago I mentioned that Bernard and Rachael from Salix had moved from Willow Creek and set up Barn & Co at Merinda Park (Mrs Nicks) on Myers Road.  Well the good news is that it’s great – seriously.

Barn & Co.

Barn & Co.

It’s not as formal as Salix – it is in a fairly rustic barn after all – but the food and the concept work really well.  I’ve tried a couple of glasses of wine late on a Friday afternoon, a snack of terrine and Pinot mid-afternoon, a multi-course dinner in the evening and a couple of decent lunches.  The menu has a range of small dishes – terrine, pate, scallops and pork cheek – bigger things like pizzas – and then a number of excellent mains.

The bar at Barn & Co.

The bar at Barn & Co.

It does sell the Mrs Nicks range of wines but you’re not limited to that.  The wine list is pretty good.  Barn & Co is open every lunchtime except Tuesdays and Wednesdays and for dinner on Friday and Saturday.  And yes – Rachael is doing weddings, and the grounds of Merinda Park are very attractive.  So Barn & Co is definitely worth a visit – most excellent.


The cellar door at Yabby Lake is closing for a month, to reopen again in early July.  The plan is to build a new cellar door away from the main dining area, and to increase the size of the restaurant.

Having shut up shop at Willow Creek, Salix has reappeared close by in a more casual form.  The vineyard that was Merinda Park, and then Mrs Nicks is now re-branded as Barn & Co.  The plan is for share plates, pizzas and a few more substantial dishes with a wine list not restricted to the vineyard.  This is on Myers Road between Stumpy Gully and Balnarring Road.  I look forward to trying it out.

The Mornington Peninsula Winter Wine Weekend is in full swing.  Just about all the cellar doors on the peninsula will be open, many with special offers and their own “entertainments”.  I was up at the Red Hill shed yesterday and it was buzzing.  It gets a little squashy in there by 1 pm, but the range of wines available to taste is huge.  The food was great this year too – excellent rabbit baklava from Paringa, superb Italian pulled pork burger from Red Hill Epicurean and Salix Barn came up with slow cooked beef.  There is still time to head on down.  Do be careful with drinking and driving – Victoria’s finest will be out in force.

As you peruse your April May 2015 edition of Gourmet Traveller magazine you will enjoy the “Best Cellar Door Awards”.  Naturally I was intrigued by the winners in the Mornington Peninsula section.

The Star Cellar Door went to Moorooduc Estate.  This is a most excellent choice on many fronts, but Star Cellar Door?  Well I think on this occasion I will agree with GT but only because super cellar door person Emma has surfaced again there.  Emma and Kate are running the WSET courses again.  In their own words:

Emma Mordue and Kate McIntyre are running the WSET II again this year.  The course will run at Moorooduc on Tuesday evenings 6-8pm over 8 weeks, with the exam on week 9, and starts on the 31st March.

This is a course I must sign up for, and I can think of few better places to do it than Moorooduc Estate.

Best Large Cellar Door went to Yabby Lake and again I have to agree with GT.  I end up having a glass of Chardonnay at Yabby Lake on a regular basis and they have never put a foot wrong.  A most excellent choice.

Best Cellar Door and Cellar Door with Best FoodParadigm Hill.  Now this I find very problematic.  You may have noticed that I have never mentioned Paradigm Hill, and this is because you can’t just go and taste – you have to buy the tasting platter and go through a whole rigmarole.  Personally I find it very off-putting.  And food?  The vineyard is only open the first weekend of the month and as far as I know has no reputation as a restaurant at all.  The wine is good but I think in this case GT has really missed the mark.  For good food how about Salix, or Yabby Lake, or Ten Minutes by Tractor, or Stillwater, or Jones Road, and if you want to go totally Austrian Northway Downs!

Best Tasting ExperienceCrittenden Estate.  Yes, a most excellent cellar door, made even better by the restaurant Stillwater which has always produced beautiful food.  Crittenden has for a long time had the biggest range of wines available for tasting, from at least five distinct labels – it can be quite a daunting prospect.  Just recently they have opened their “Crittenden Wine Centre” – which I have yet to try.  This “has introduced an exciting new way of experiencing wine on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula” – OMG!

Best Additional ExperienceFoxeys Hangout.  Yes, I think I can go with this one too.  I spent a very enjoyable lunch there a little while back, and the Foxeys Hangout Pinot Noir is a good example of Peninsula Pinot.

So not a bad effort from GT.  I must get on and do my own awards for 2014.

Things really do seem to be getting busy at Willow Creek.  Their function and wedding business is just going gang-busters.  This time of year they are doing up to three weddings a weekend.  But you can already see that work has started on their new 39 bed “hotel”.  Trees have been cleared in preparation for a build starting sometime in the new year.  There is talk of closing the cellar door for a year while the work goes on – and I imagine that the whole nature of the Salix operation is going to have to change too.  If you’ve got people staying in the hotel, they are going to need breakfast, lunch and dinner – unless there is a new dining facility going in.  So all change there.  It is definitely the case that if you want dinner – or lunch – at Willow Creek ring first.

Over in Red Hill, Port Phillip/Kooyong has established itself as a true Peninsula icon, and quite rightly so.  It is a magnificent building.  Emma, super cellar door person, has moved on.  She has popped up in another interesting venture with Kate McIntyre MW (no less) to offer the WSET level 2 wine course at Moorooduc Estate.  Now if you ever thought about doing a wine course, this is a good one to look at.  It is part of the journey you need to go on to get to MW (Master of Wine).  Ironically out of the UK (not exactly known for its fine wine production) it is supposed to be a very good.

Anyway, back to Port Phillip.  The thing I found a bit alarming is that the cellar door is still pushing the 2011 Pinot Noirs.  I asked when the 2012s would come out and was told there was still a lot of the 2011 left.  Now there is probably a reason for that, given that particular year.  I would suggest that they need to move on a bit there.  Hopefully they have a plan …

At the other end of the Peninsula, Jones Road continues to do good business with its English themed lunches on Sunday.  They too are picking up good wedding business.  Jones Road is always good value – no “three scallops and weird foam” there.

A little while ago I mentioned that Stephane had left Willow Creek and Salix to start up on his own in the place in Balnarring vacated by Ricca when he moved to Stumpy Gully.  Well, I went to try Le Bouchon and was most impressed.

Stephane has lifted the decor – it’s much lighter and brighter and there is now one big comfy bench along the main wall which adds extra seating and brings a warmth to the place.  There is also seating outside in a little garden area.

The menu – very simple, very French and the prices are not outrageous.  Starters include seafood and charcuterie platters to share, with rich terrines and pâtés.  There are four basic main courses: confit du canard, steak (two types with a variety of sauces), poisson (of the day) and pork belly.  And then a selection of desserts including mousse au chocolate and crème brûlée.  Specials were available including calamari.

The wine list is not huge and features French and local Mornington Peninsula wines.  Prices start at around $40.  The Bordeaux I had, a Château Le Tros was $63, and very good too.  A little too much Crème de Cassis in our Kirs when we got started was the only minor fault in that department.  It’s BYO ($10 corkage) on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The food was good – confit, steak and belly pork all most excellent, as were the starters and desserts.  Prices for starters, from $12.  Main courses are typically under $30.

Le Bouchon

Le Bouchon

So a great new addition to Balnarring and well worth trying.  If he can maintain his quality then I think Stephane will have a hit on his hands.


The bread basket at Le Bouchon

Salix is the restaurant at Willow Creek vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula, Australia.  It is a very good place – the food is always excellent, the location and restaurant space is very attractive and the service as good as it comes.  So recently I had no qualms about trying the “Autumn Table” lunch special – two courses and a glass of wine for $42 (Australian 2012).

The starter was fish cakes, the main slow roasted shoulder of lamb on a wild pine mushroom risotto.  I couldn’t fault the presentation, and the flavours were superb, especially the risotto, but the portion sizes!!  The starter I would classify as a generous amuse-bouche and the main made a decent starter.

I know they’re working to a budget, but this one stepped over the line in terms of what is reasonable.  They really have redefined the light in “light lunch”.  It’s a shame because it really is a good restaurant, but that experience did not endear me towards the place.  Salix Pinot Noir – a sound pinot.