The historic village of Flinders on the southeastern tip of the Mornington Peninsula isn’t just a place to stop by for a coffee anymore. It’s now an idyllic base for your great weekend escape, thanks to the opening of an accommodation wing at the Flinders Hotel. Here, at Quarters, expect modern guest rooms that are spacious and contemporary in design and make sure you book a ground floor one that comes with an outdoor space.
The hotel has a restaurant, Terminus, that serves up north African-influenced cuisine with produce primarily sourced from across the Peninsula. Order the roasted quail, John Dory or rabbit saddle and match it up with a local chardonnay or pinot noir. Don’t skip past the Turkish delight soufflé for dessert: it’s Algerian-born chef Pierre Khodja’s top sweet dish.
Another eating space worth visiting on the Peninsula is Red Hill Epicurean, where over 100 local wines are showcased alongside Italian dishes. The ‘shed’ restaurant, with its attached gourmet bakery and café, is located in an expansive space the size of a warehouse. Order the Porcolino or the Picantosa pizza. On the mains, the kalamata olive-crusted rack of lamb is the winner.
Red Hill is the heart of the Mornington Peninsula wine country. Located in a statement building, Port Phillip Estate has several ranges available for tastings and the drops that stand out are the Port Phillip Estate Chardonnay, Kooyong’s Single Vineyard Faultline Chardonnay, the Port Phillip Estate Pinot Noir and the Kooyong Single Vineyard Haven Pinot Noir.
Ocean Eight is well respected for its pinot noir. The 2009 Aylward Reserve Pinot Noir is drinking very well and will only get better with four- to five-years’ cellaring. Paringa Estate is hidden gem on the Peninsula, with the cellar door and restaurant located among the vines – a stunning setting. The wines are top-shelf, particularly the current chardonnays. Also give their pinot noir a look-in.
Down the street at Merricks General Store, expect top country bistro-style fare. Order the bay mussels and the chicken and leek pie, and a glass of Elgee Park Family Reserve Riesling. The popular bistro-style restaurant also doubles up as a cellar door for several local wine producers, including Baillieu Vineyard, Elgee Park and Quealy.
The top cup of coffee in the district is found at Pier Providore in Flinders, where the ham and gruyère croissant is also a must.
It’s time for relaxation at Peninsula Hot Springs, where the natural thermal mineral waters will do wonders for your skin. On the way back to Melbourne, pick up a punnet of fresh fruit at the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, where you can pick your own when the red devils are in season.