Locale possesses all of the requisite elements to deliver an enchanting experience not found in the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. The restaurant reflects not only the De Bortoli family’s Italian heritage but also the restaurant’s philosophy of sourcing the best local, seasonal and organic produce. Our expectations of Locale are fostered not only by its excellent reputation, but by our own experiences on each of our previous visits. Our unwavering eagerness to return speaks volumes about how highly we regard this wonderful winery restaurant.
The dining area is spacious, elegant and exudes an air of calm. The wide windows allow the sun to trickle in and present magical views out to the De Bortoli vineyard and the broader Yarra Ranges. The sense of true Italian hospitality is palpable, echoed in the modern Italian menu prepared using high quality, fresh ingredients which are often locally sourced. The service is always friendly and efficient. A special mention must be given to the wonderful head waiter Tony, who is always warm and welcoming.
To start we adored the Roasted heirloom beetroot salad served with crispy polenta, goats' cheese mousse, pine nut gremolata. The combination of luxurious goat’s cheese with the slight acidity and earthiness from the beetroot all came together beautifully.
The Estate chardonnay cured kingfish was similarly delicious. Beautifully presented, the cured kingfish was embellished with, finger lime, preserved lemon, white anchovy. The finger lime added a wonderfully zesty touch to what was an enlivening combination of ingredients.
As expected of any great Italian eatery, Locale is particularly good at producing superb pasta dishes. The gnocchi we sampled was no exception. As with all good gnocchi, it was soft and pillow-like, providing an ideal canvas for the intense flavours of the pork shoulder ragu, fennel, chilli and pecorino.
For mains, the dish of Herb crusted hapuka was stunning. The nasturtium sauce was wonderfully flavoursome, rich and complex. The hapuka was cooked to a supple perfection and went perfectly with the roasted Jerusalem artichoke which boasted a delectable firmness and a natural sweetness. This was all brought harmoniously together by the tomato vinaigrette.
For something heartier, do not go past the slow braised lamb pithivier served with pickled shallot, celeriac, peas, and chervil. It was a simple yet gratifying lamb puff pastry pie of an older age which certainly hit the spot.
The Hazelnut chocolate fondant was a moreish end to our visit. Boasting an oozy chocolate and hazelnut centre, the fondant was served with moreish torrone, amaretto gelato and hazelnut praline. Just yum!
Every now and then a restaurant manages to capture a place in your heart. Locale is such a place. More than just the high quality of the food and wines on offer, Locale transports you to another world where all of the stresses of modern, city living evaporate and life is a lot simpler. Despite having eaten at Locale countless times already, it continues to draw us back time and again and has rightfully claimed a spot in our favourite restaurants of all time.
Wine tasting at De Bortoli's Trophy Room
While you're at De Bortoli, we recommend having a gourmet tasting in their Trophy Room. It's only $30 per person and includes a tasting of all of the De Bortoli Yarra Valley range as well as the iconic Noble One and Black Noble along with a gourmet cheese platter.
Location: 58 Pinnacle Ln, Dixons Creek
Phone: (03) 5965 2271