It’s an interesting experience come night at Montalto. There’s a fear of what you can’t see, what you know could be lurking amongst the vineyards. A psychotic axeman, a chainsaw wielding leatherface on the loose, dismembering limbs and bloody guts then flinging them onto the floor to ceiling glass windows like some sick calling card. The surrounding structures aren’t much to keep you safe.
If you can get these creative thoughts off your mind and bring yourself to reality, you are sitting in one of Mornington’s finest. The darkness adds to the mood of the room, filled with those casual bentwood chairs and formal white clothed tables.
On the menu, the food is a calibre that would make any sewer dwelling clown proud. Spring roll is given the Aussie gourmet treatment, golden baked puff pastry is rolled and stuffed with quail, shiitake mushies on a mini mound of caramelised onions and apple compote compliments the game meat. Scallops plump, large and sweet cooked perfectly, the haricot bean puree and fennel foam has the mouth draped in textual luxury but is let down by not reaching the high expected by its looks. It’s still good though.
Masterchef fans will find pleasure in knowing how this pork belly could have been cooked, the thin skin is just crisp, the fat has been completely rendered and cooked flavouring the meat making it a pleasurable experience. It’s worth mentioning there’s a shallot and ginger compote on the dish but when you get pork belly that’s this good, you can easily forget about the rest of the components. Those who feel cheated by small servings at fine diners will go for the 300g rib eye allows the inner Freddy to stab something sharp into. It’s fantastic produce, cooked to order, you’ll want to suckle the remaining fibres from the bone, the roasted gnocchi on tomato fondue (thick relish) a bonus.
A crème brulee holds without the ramekin has the cracking burnt sugar top you’d expect, a rhubarb parfait brings some acidic balance to the sweetness of the velvety custard.
Those looking for a horror show will be sorely disappointed. Though I know there’s probably nothing scary out there, this is one place I don’t want the window seat. You’d die first but at least you’ll go away reasonably happy, if you made it through the meal.
3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 33 Shoreham Road, Red Hill South, VIC
What? Entrees $19, Mains $38, Desserts $15