There are some great things happening in the south that many people north of the river, or even a few suburbs away, might not realise. We have Hawk & Hunter, an amazing cafe doing left-of-centre brunches that is slammed every weekend and pretty much every weekday morning with the yummy mummy set, and right next door the Ripponlea Food & Wine, which is worth checking out too. Head further down along the coast to Black Rock and you have True South putting out some amazing Argentinian food that goes perfectly with the lagers and ales from their onsite brewery.
Saying all this – there are very few places situated right on the beach. Even less now that Stokehouse has been removed from the picture for the foreseeable future as the rebuild following a fire in January 2014 gets underway.
Of course there’s Donovan’s, but spending that kind of cash every time you fancy a seaside view just isn’t practical.
Which brings us to Sails on the Bay in Elwood, which we have cycled past numerous times on our way to Brighton meaning we usually flew past it in a blur. This time we decided to make it our destination.
This year marks their 20th anniversary and like any good establishment, they know a little revamp can go a long way. But really – the inside can do what it likes when you have views that are this good and this uninterrupted. The ‘glass box’ feel put us in mind of Loam. You really are in a white-linen fine dining restaurant while being sat on the beach at the same time. You can almost feel the sand between your toes.
The sun peeked out on this grey and overcast day as we placed our order for freshly shucked oysters with chilli ginger and caramel. These Coffin Bay oysters were plump and the ginger and caramel was a well though-out match.
One of the most visually stunning dishes I’ve seen in a while was the spiced and seared yellow fin tuna with cubes of smoked potatoes, cherry tomatoes, egg yolk confit, and bean and olive salsa. All the elements on the plate came together to create the perfect seasoning for the dish.
Mains stepped things up a notch further with delicious and generous-sized portions featuring seasonal ingredients. Such as the beautifully cooked King Dory fillet, artichokes, shallot confit, marinated shiitake mushrooms with watercress sauce.
The duck breast served pink alongside a rich leg confit, sweet and sour red cabbage, fondant potatoes and braised chestnut jus was again another very well portioned dish. The breast was succulent and the cabbage a great accompaniment to cut through the fatty goodness.
We didn’t need dessert but couldn’t resist an interesting take on an Aussie classic. The Sails on the Bay lamington, and coconut and raspberry delice served with lime ice cream elevates this iconic sweet treat to a whole new level with the ice cream providing an ingenious palette cleanser.
Sails on the Bay are serving some amazing food in a beautiful bay setting, and there’s a reason why the dining room (and adjoining, more casual café) with its highly competent team have been able to stay open longer than the vast majority of Melbourne restaurants. Whether it’s date night, a birthday, a wedding party or just a leisurely Sunday lunch with the parents – this is the place to treat your taste buds while taking in the view.
If you need to go easy on your wallet, we suggest opting for the set menu which changes weekly and includes a glass of wine and a coffee to finish – two courses for $40 and three for courses $45 are available lunchtimes from Tuesday to Saturday and at dinner from Tuesday to Friday. Or head there Tuesday to Friday evenings with your own bottle of plonk and pay $10 corkage.