I absolutely love having overseas guests visit me in Melbourne. Especially my buddies from Asia. They love food as much as I do, but the bonus of being in Melbourne, is that we get some beautiful settings to enjoy as well.
Not too long ago, my crew who I usually meet up with came down to Melbourne for an extended weekend, so I trotted them out to the Mornington Peninsula, where we AirBnb’ed (is that a verb yet?) a huge house and made our way to the very charming Ten Minutes by Tractor for dinner (which had be on my wishlist for a very long time).
The name is long (if I had a $1 for every time my friends asked me for the restaurant name…) but the restaurant itself is much more approachable that I had expected it to be. The restaurant is cosy and intimate; I feel like I’ve arrived at a friend’s house (who really knows how to be a host), rather than a two hatted restaurant, and one of Victoria’s top regional restaurants.
Visiting in Spring is lovely, the sun still simmering around and gently setting behind the view of lush green lawns and vineyard.
The wine list reads like a bible, bound in leather, thick and heavy, but is a much more interesting read. Getting overwhelmed with our choices though, we stick to the Estate pinot for much of the night, like the restaurant, it’s approachable and an easy drink.
Although sorely tempted by the degustation, due to my friends having only recently flown in and jet lag being a big of a nuisance, we all opt for ala carte, some of us getting two courses and some of us getting three, so that we could share some of the desserts at the end of the meal.
Multigrain or olive rolls got our night started, along with velvety smooth and delicious butter.
To start, we got an amuse bouche of kingfish ceviche with a celeriac puree (or something along those lines) and a mini rosemary cracker topped with goats cheese and celery. I loved the contrast of the two, a crunchy cracker and smooth as silk ceviche; yet both with bright and very springy flavours. I’m a sucker for celeriac especially!
Crystal, the bigger sister who I never had, always knows what’s best for me, and after returning to the table prior to our ordering, insisted I order the quail entree, as it looked amazing on the pass.
She wasn’t wrong.
The roasted quail breast was served with a confit leg croquette, sweet corn, peppered pancetta and macadamia nut and was by far the most hearty of the entrees that hit the table. I absolutely loved the poultry mixed with the sweetness of the sweet corn, the juiciness of the breast, and the perfect crunch to the croquette. Another dish that absolutely celebrated spring to me, but in a less cliched way.
A couple other entrees that my friends also had included the Koo Wee Rup asparagus with peas, Red Hill goats’ cheese, dill puree, lemon and celery jelly and the Skull Island king prawn with heritage tomato, verbena granita and prawn cremeux. Whilst I didn’t try the asparagus, my friend Kara loved the freshness of it, and I enjoyed how delicate and light the prawn dish was (especially in contrast to my quail!)
For mains, we seemed to have a split between the girls and the boys, with most of the boys ordered the grass fed Cape Grim fillet with roasted heritage carrots, charred chipolini onions and beurre noisette gnocchi (which I didn’t get a picture of) and the girls almost all ordering the pan seared Patagoninan toothfish fillet, with a crispy quinoa crust, toasted coconut, heirloom cauliflower and badami emulsion.
Another hit of a dish for me, the tooth fish was so rich, yet smooth and velvety, with pops of crunchy quinoa to break through. The coconut and vegetables also added a nice freshness to the whole plate. Very moreish.
The cucumber sorbet palate cleanser was as you might imagine it…refreshing! How cute are the little bowls?
To finish, we ordered a chocolate dessert with Michel Cluizel chocolate with fresh raspberries and creme fraiche thyme snow and a rice pudding with basil, lemon verbena meringue and spiced strawberry ice-cream.
I’ll admit the strawberry dessert wasn’t my favourite, but that’s just because I loved the richness of the chocolate, the chocolate bar in the middle was smooth and creamy, a bit like a mousse, and the raspberry sorbet dotted around the side was just so vibrant and fruity (for lack of a better word).
Should you also decide you want to add cheese to your meal, the tasting platter is great value, as you get all 5 cheeses that are currently on the board, thick generous cuts specifically, with an huge array of condiments lavosh. We even asked to take some away because we couldn’t finish it all!
In all, although sleepiness came over everyone quite quickly so our dinner didn’t last as long as others have in the past (which I’ve had the joy of being jet lagged through), Ten Minutes by Tractor was exactly the environment we needed. Cosy and comfortable, a place where we could actually hear each other, and just be relaxed in each other’s company…with some beautifully seasonal food, which expresses regional Victorian food perfectly.
Am I keen to return? Definitely. Suppose we could make an anniversary trip out of it or something this year…
1333 Mornington-Flinders Road