Monday, September 12, 2011

Red Hill Brewery Cafe

Red Hill Brewery Cafe is to restaurants what smart casual is to dress codes. In the middle of the Mornington Peninsula's cellar door mecca, this venue exudes neither the fine dining polish or the calculated casualness of others in the area. Instead it's the real deal rancho-relaxo. Choose the airy dining room with floor to ceiling windows, or the covered deck as you're presented first and foremost with the drinks list. Beer is not surprisingly the focus and if you can't choose between Golden Ale, Wheat Bear, Belgian Blonde or Scotch Ale you can purchase a tasing paddle for $12.

As the ideal venue for long, late lunches you'd be advised to take your time over the brief, but satisfying list of "Nibbles for Sharing". Belgian Nibblies' bite-size slices of Gouda is a strange concept but worth it to sample the salty dipping condiments, almost as moreish as the spicy, ale-roasted nuts. However neither should take precedence over the gooey Stoemp Cakes. Crumbed and fried, these cheesy mashed vegetable patties with housemade mayonnaise are sure to please all.

Mains are served quickly so it's not a bad idea to wait and order after you've enjoyed your nibbles. Still, most find it difficult to wait for the venue's star food attraction. An inch thick slab of tender corned beef served on-top of parsnip mash has fellow diners and waitstaff alike hovering like star-struck school girls. The Brewmaster's Ploughmans is the perfect canvas to showcase the Cafe's emphasis on local produce and includes a delightful chunk of pork pie, while another favourite beer standard, the Steak Sandwich, impresses all with its sheer size as it parades from the kitchen to tables. Disappointingly the pork belly fails to crackle but a special of chicken delights with its contrast of rich, creamy mustard sauce and crisp, fresh snow peas. Diners comment on the generous servings, exceptional value at less than $30, while washing it all down with more beer. Wine drinkers are not forgotten, with a brief list of locals by both bottle and glass. Vegetarians, on the other hand, may find life difficult.

Dessert specials are listed on the wall, if you have space after all that beer. Chocolate sticky date pudding has thick, dark chocolate sauce replacing butterscotch in spectacular fashion, while a rhubarb and almond tart is a civilised, although conservative, way to finish the afternoon. Not enough room? A serving of local cheese, matched to the seasonal beer will wrap things up nicely.

Stretching and rolling your way out the door you'll encounter afternoon drinkers enjoying the beer. You'll wish you could join them for just one more pot, if only your stomach had room.

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