Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

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It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eltham (and surrounds) Restaurants

Eltham? Hey groovy man! Far out! Beaten earth walls, mud brick huts, footpaths at 45 degrees and a chain to help you get up your driveway, gum trees, creeks, alternative schools, Montsalvat, bongs, beanies and the occassional estate of an Italian businessman with a vineyard, right hand drive Cadillac and concrete cherubs weeing into their kidney shaped pools as an affirmation of culture and still functioning kidneys.

Sound familiar? Well that's what Eltham USED to be like in the nineties. It's all still true, but now there's so much more, including a few little culinary gems that our star insider Vikki let me know about.

I'm passing these on, in case you're out that way, and also before I lose the scrap of paper I scrawled these on... while in no way accepting responsibility for any negative vibes you might pick up if they do, in fact, have cattle pooh rendered walls.

Want a fancy feed out Eltham way? Read on.

410 Main Rd, Lower Plenty VIC 3093
Reservations: 03 9439 9941
Dinner: Tuesday - Sunday
Lunch: Wednesday - Sunday

OK, it's not in Eltham. As you drive from Templestowe towards Eltham, take the first left after you've gone through the big roundabout and have crossed the bridge into Eltham - heading out to Lower Plenty. You've come this far, and what are a few kms between friends?

Element is a restaurant located in an old house on a hill, and their menu features seasonal produce (what's in season and cheap), like all good restaurants, with an eye to fancy pants dishes like duck, oysters, and crispy pork with a modern twist.

Take your cholesterol-reducing-fibre supplement and go there. Vikki gives it two thumbs up!

732 Main Road
Phone/Fax: (03) 9431 1015

An insitution in Eltham, it's been there for years and has consistently gotten a hat from the Age Good Food Guide, this place was ironically also continually referred to as "the Old Institute" by Vikki. Hmm.

Further pressing of the web site and Google failed to reveal what the exact nature of the Old Institute was, the technical college or perhaps an experimental loony bin, but it is located in an historic Federation cottage.

The main chef is Stephen Mercer, hence the name, and apparently it's THE traditional fancy place to go when habituing the leafy north east of Melbourne. Vikki gives it one and a half thumbs up.


Brownkorte on Evelyn County Estate.
55 Eltham-Yarra Glen rd,
Kangaroo Ground - VIC 3097, Australia
Tel: (+61) 3 9437 2155

My first reaction on hearing the name of this restaurant was "WTF?", immediately followed by an "Ah-ha!" moment as I recalled an old dry cleaner down in the South East of Melbourne called Brown Gouge... which always made me wonder how one would remove a brown gouge stain from a duvet, and how it got there in the first place.

The restaurant is named after the two owner chefs, Gordon Brown (not that one), and Martin De Korte. The building is modern and trendy, with a green swooshy roof. If you've ever heard the phrase "Never trust a skinny cook" (I used it in my last blog), you can leave these guys the keys to your Bentley, lodge your tax with them and introduce them to your naive yet strangely wandering virginal daughter.

OK - you got me, this one's not in Eltham either, it's in Kangaroo Ground, but the food looks droolingly good and again it get's a cheery recommendation from Vikki (I don't want to commit any more to how many thumbs she gave anything).

Phone: (03) 9439 7712
Fax: (03) 9431 4177
7 Hillcrest Ave. Eltham Victoria 3095
Melways Map: 22 A8
Bus 582 from Eltham Station

It's amazing how much you can write about restaurants without ever having ever been to them (see above), so I'd feel it remiss to not at least mention my favourite place to go when in Eltham - Montsalvat.

Montsalvat was set up as an artists' commune by Justus Jörgensen, who bought the land in 1935 and with his friends painted up a storm and built European style castles. It's "Australia's oldest artists colony", for whatever that's worth, and while I can't attest to its gastronomic excellence, my good friends Em Carlile and Johnny Simon (and half of Melbourne) got married there, so it's a place of singularly fond memories for me.

Montsalvat is all about the 12 acres of artiness and old school European aesthetics. Those foxy morons Kath and Kim recently filmed part of their new movie "Kath and Kimberella", due for release in September this year.

The restaurant at Montsealvat is called 'the Meeting Pool' and it's current chef (he doesn't use currants) is Paul Phelan, though I see Sigmund Jorgensen is involved heavily (he had a hand in 80's 3 hat restaurant Clichy and is, no doubt, an antecedent of Justus). The restaurant uses a lot of produce grown on the estate, as well as sourcing local produce like yabbies, so it definitely gets a green tick.

I give Montsavlat six tentacles, just because of its grounds. That's all you'll need. Go when the weather's nice, as the sun goes down.