The small dining room is situated behind the winery's public cellar door which has a few vintages on offer to taste before you are ultimately escorted to your reserved table. Fortunately for us we were seated on the perimeter of the restaurant with direct views out to the vines and the sheep that methodically followed each other up and down the rows of grapes chewing on grass however every table in the house has a good view. It is an idyllic and relaxing backdrop that merges well with the fit-out of the contemporary dining room.
There were two different degustation menus available and surprisingly, I opted for the more limited five course option ($109 + $62 for matching wines) only because I knew if I enjoyed the hospitality of the restaurant all afternoon I would fail in my task of visiting four of the wineries that I really like being Stonier, Eldridge Estate, Oceans Eight and Paringa Estate.
A simple but powerful goats' cheese from neighbouring Red Hill with pickled mushrooms, toasted brioche, apple and walnut kicked off proceedings. The produce was regional, fresh and exciting as the tastes competed for position on my palate. My customary West Winds Gin and Tonic ($10) placated my thirst and I was left contemplating the cheese thinking that I needed to source some from Red Hill on my journey back to Melbourne. This was an outstanding way to start this degustation experience and the woes of the world took a back seat as thoughts and conversation turned to food, wine and everything associated with the epicurean journey that was ahead of us.
Roasted Hapuka, a deep sea wreckfish from the southern waters off of South Australia appeared next with cauliflower, curried quinoa, crystal bay prawns and romesco. I was not only impressed with the produce but also with the presentation. Matched with 2009 Ten Minutes by Tractor Estate Chardonnay really complemented both the Hapuka but also the prawns very well. The curried quinoa gave the needed kick to make the fish go from good to great across the palate without distracting you from the taste of the fish. Service demonstrated their professionalism by keeping the table orderly and not interrupting our ruckus conversation and ensuring that I always had some wine in my glass to drink.
Quail was next sacrificed to satisfy our hunger. The little bird was smoked and served with pumpkin, black rice, kaiserfleich and macadamias. The kaiserfleich is ham made from the eye of pork loin supplemented the tender meat of the quail and had a thought-provoking taste which I pondered both silently and later verbally as I enjoyed it with a 2010 Turners Crossing Shiraz Voignier, the wine being sourced from Bendigo, Victoria. I had never thought of merging these tastes together and I was really happy that I got to experience it in such a lovely venue paired with such a bold wine.
|Flinders Island Wallaby|
I was excited knowing that the next course was in fact Wallaby sourced from Flinders Island Meats. At this point I had enjoyed their fine product at Attica, Vue de Monde and Jacques Reymond and I really enjoy seeing how top chefs work with this meat. In Chef Stuart Bell's case, he devised a sublime dish with French green lentils (lentilles du Puy), heritage carrots, quince marinated potatoes, tarragon and minted peas. Although I adored the wallaby, I really think that the lentils is what made this dish work so well. The texture of both of the elements, interestingly enough paired once again with the Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Chardonnay, however this was the 2011 vintage, really worked. I thought the wallaby despite being brilliant would have been more appropriate being served rarer however that is just a personal choice.
The aptly titled "Avant Dessert" being a vanilla creme brulee with baked apple espuma and raspberries proceeded the decadent Michel Cluizel chocolate and rhubarb ganache with rhubarb panna cotta and a cointreau ice cream. I don't have many favourite dessert "flavours" but the kitchen can seemingly read minds and put everything that I like on a plate where the presentation just
blew me away. Regular readers of this blog know that I rarely take photos of food (I find it rude but in this case I was able to take photos of not only the Wallaby but this Chocolate and Rhubarb dessert without being noticed and of course without the flash being on) but this particular course deserved to be immortalised for all posterity. Paired with a Topaque Cambells from Rutherglen, a sweet wine of kings that matched perfectly with the rich chocolate. The rhubarb ganache left me wanting more and when combined with the simple flavour of the alcohol-infused ice cream, I found another contender for a "best dessert" of the year award.
|Chocolate and Rhubarb|
We finished the 2.5 hour meal with various cheeses - more amazing goats' milk and hard cooked cheese both hailing from the Main Ridge Dairy.
Service remained very hospitable and throughout the experience went out of their way to make us comfortable. They made it seem like nothing was ever too hard and that our one or two requests would of course not be a drama at all. Both my wine glass and the water glass always remained filled and the homely yet rustic ambiance really set the mood for a relaxing lunch that is destined to be one of my highlights for 2013. I am looking forward to not only incorporating Ten Minutes by Tractor into my frequent wine tasting excursions on my frequent trips around the Mornington Peninsula but also taking on the more expansive degustation menu on a future visit.
Ten Minutes by Tractor was awarded two chefs hats in the 2012/2013 The Age Good Food Guide.
Ten Minutes by Tractor
1333 Mornington Flinders Road
Main Ridge, VIC 3923
Main Ridge, VIC 3923
(03) 5989 6080
My Rating: 17.5/20
Value For Money: 4.5/5
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
At the time of this post, 82% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like Ten Minutes by Tractor.