Ten Minutes by RCZ
Dec 22 2010
There once was a car named the Peugeot RCZ
It came out of nowhere, leaving the Batmobile for dead
The Batmobile fought to catch up but it was all in vain
The RCZ was already in Main Ridge, bathing in champagne.
1333 Mornington-Flinders Road
Main Ridge VIC
It’s an hour and a half from bayside Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula, a drive lined with urban beaches, cyclists and glimpses of underused tollways. At the end of our latest trek lay Ten Minutes by Tractor, a Main Ridge winery restaurant that had been on my ‘to-eat list’ for some time. In the rather concise words of Queen, I wanted it all. And I wanted it now.
‘Now’ was a sunny Saturday evening that called for pretty silk dresses to be worn and multiple glasses of red wine to be consumed. As we stepped down to the front door, verified our last-minute reservation and were seated in the dining room, it was clear we had entered a pretty swish establishment. The sleek dining room was fitted out with polished wooden floorboards, shapely brown wooden chairs, and crisp white tablecloths upon which slender flowers reclined in silver vases. With gorgeous views of the vineyard and a corrugated iron ceiling, it was shed dining at its finest.
Tubbymaster and I both chose (not to share) the night’s entrée special, a scallop and pea risotto. The dishes arrived as the waiter described the special to the table behind us, but the scallops weren’t blushing a shade of red. They were lightly pan-fried, on a vivid green bed of risotto, tiny flecks of bacon punctuating the dish with en-dashes of colour and saltiness. It looked as lovely on the plate as it felt on the palate, and tasted so good, I wanted to cancel my main and go twelve rounds with the risotto.
The mains were comparatively disappointing. My duck (Blue Mountain duck breast, pearl barley, beetroot, Tuscan cabbage) and Tubbymaster’s steak (Cape Grim beef fillet, pumpkin puree, shallot, mustard jelly) looked promising – the pumpkin puree and jus of Tubbymaster’s steak dish a futuristic backdrop for the brown of the steak and orange of the carrots. Both dishes certainly were not (Cape) grim, but were not fork-as-shovel brilliant like the risotto. The cauliflower in our ‘seasonal panache of vegetables’ was only just cooked, a flashback to my childhood when I attempted to avoid this vegetable as much as possible.
We shared the orange-themed dessert: orange meringue tart, citrus salad, suzette sauce, rosemary espuma, chocolate ice-cream. As we ordered, I had visions of diving through luscious peaks of meringue into a buttery pit of orange, but the tart was deconstructed – without any pastry that may have placated my tastebuds or, conversely, pushed my stomach past full. Mind you, if I knew that petits fours would arrive with our coffee – and those chocolate morsels would be as delicious as they were – I would have slowly backed away from the dessert menu, for they was a very nice end to an evening of droolworthy highs, and good-but-not-as-droolworthy plateaus.
TUBBYMISTRESS SAYS: What surprised me most about Ten Minutes by RCZ – I mean, Tractor – was how refined the whole experience was. Google Maps defines the restaurant’s ambience as ‘relaxed’; I prefer ‘special-occasion’, ‘upmarket’ or even ‘posh’. The sophistication of the dishes; the price point; and special touches such as the extensive, leather-bound wine list elevate the Tractor into what I’d consider an elite group of winery restaurants in the region. Indeed, there were synergies with our Montalto dining experience from earlier in the year:
A selection of bread to select from basket
Mushroom and truffle oil soup (amuse bouche)
Pan-fried scallops, leeks and smoked salmon in a pea soup
Duck breast with baby beetroot and an apple and onion compote
Sherry and raisin soufflé
Obese credit card bill
Ten Minutes by Tractor
A selection of bread to select from bucket
Ocean trout amuse bouche
Pan-fried scallops, pea, bacon risotto
Duck breast with pearl barley, beetroot, Tuscan cabbage
Orange meringue tart
Obese credit card bill
As far as taste and consistency are concerned, Montalto wins … by a soufflé, half a duck and a waiter’s smile. Both dining experiences were classy but, for me, the Tractor was a bit ‘Toorak’: it lacked warmth, the kind of x-factor that entices you to linger over coffee. Should we return, I hope our next ride on the Tractor is a little less machine, a lot more personable; and that all dishes are as amazing as that risotto.