We visited a few vineyard restaurants in The Mornington and one of the loveliest is Stillwater. It is located in the acclaimed Crittenden Estate at the foot of Red Hill. Since it opened in 2004, this modern vineyard restaurant is well known for its relaxed fine dining. Developed by owners Zac and Jacqui Poulier from a small self-service café, Stillwater today showcases the very best of the Mornington.
In 2012, after an internal refit, fine dining has been lifted to the next level with the restaurant and bar featuring straight lines and neutral tones, bespoke pendant globe lights which can be re-configured into chandeliers, Italian-style basket chairs in mixed tones of black and camel and a lifted ceiling in light shades of grey.
Depending on the weather, guests can choose to dine either indoors or outdoors, on the deck overlooking the vineyard and lake.
Food served in Stillwater makes the most of local produce in appreciation of the region as a gourmet destination. Our lunch there was a masterful representation of the best local, seasonal, organic (where possible) and free-range ingredients of the region.
From Mondays to Fridays, Stillwater serves a really good value set lunch – any 2 courses from their a la carte menu for AUD45 or 3 courses for AUD55.
From the Entrees, we love the thick creamy Seafood Chowder served with Corn Flatbread. It’s a very substantial portion, the chowder has chunky fresh seafood which cling to the corn bread in the most delicious way. LL had the Individual Platter of 4 Tastes – I can’t recall what those 4 specials were that day – these specials change every day.
Twice cooked dry cured Pork Belly, honeyed onion puree, shaved calamari, fennel & apple salad, chorizo soil & apple caviar
Creamy Seafood Chowder with Corn Flatbread
Platter of 4 Tastes
Of course we tried their Mains. The Grass-fed Gippsland Eye Fillet with potato, grain mustard & braised brisket crocquette, truffled celeriac puree, organic carrots and red wine jus was divine. Done medium-rare, the eye fillet was very tender and bursting with flavours and the sides were just as good.
Grass-fed Gippsland Eye Fillet with potato, grain mustard & braised brisket crocquette, truffled celeriac puree, organic carrots and red wine jus
Pan-seared Duck Breast with parsnip puree, Brussels sprouts with a borlotti bean, cotecino sausage & pancetta “casssoulet” was well executed – so much so that the pink succulent duck slices were declared “the best” by my sister-in-law who’s generally not a great duck fan!
Pan-seared Duck Breast
The Fish of the Day dish was a Pan-seared Seabass fillet sitting prettily on top of creamy risotto, accompanied by bunches of fresh rocket. This is a typical example of Chef Zac’s philosophy of using fresh seasonal produce which are cooked in the simplest ways so that they stand out on their own yet can combine beautifully with others, flavors inter-mingling in the most delicious ways.
DL was delighted with his Trio of Lamb and quietly enjoying the roasted lamb rump, the olive & parmesan crusted cutlet and the slow-cooked lamb shoulder – all matched tastefully with a turnip, fontina & potato gratin, sautéed cavalo nero, pickled pear puree with a madeira & thyme jus.
As if the above were not enough, we were piled with more sides of Hand-cut local potato chips with garlic aioli and Sauteed Seasonal Greens sprinkled with toasted almonds. Those potatoes were really good and despite being well-filled by the mains, we stuffed our faces silly with them.
Itching to feel the cool crisp air outside, we decided to have our dessert of Vanilla Crème Brulee (made with free-range eggs) poached rhubarb and hazelnut tuille outside on the deck. We enjoyed the fine textured crème brulee and slightly tangy rhubarb in between sips of their refreshing fizzy Pinocchio Moscato. LL loved this moscato so much we bought a bottle back!
Stillwater boasts one of the largest range of wines on tasting in the region, offering visitors a true insight to the diversity of wines available in the region. The wine list reflects the Crittenden Estate portfolio, so one can sip Pinot Noir whilst gazing out onto the very vines that produced the wine. A wide variety of local wines helps visitors appreciate the full spectrum of locally produced wines in the region interstate and international varieties are also showcased.
The Cellar Door invites visitors to experience the increasingly popular Stillwater ‘Zac and Jac’s’ Kitchen Produce range of homemade preserves and produce made with local ingredients, available for tastings and purchase. We bought several bottles of their delicious raspberry preserves.
Stillwater boasts a magnificent lake, manicured lawns and incredible views – it isn’t any wonder then that it’s immensely popular for weddings and special events.
The Pouliers added on several villas by the lakeside making this a perfect place for a honeymoon or just a peaceful quiet getaway.
Stillwater’s luxury villas boast total peace, privacy and unsurpassed views. We love the thoughtfully-equipped kitchen, open plan living and dining room with and an open fire. Guests get a gourmet breakfast hamper each morning of their stay and a bottle of Crittenden Sparkling Wine.
Each villa can sleep up to 4 adults – there’s a king bed and a fold-out queen bed. The bathroom comes with double spa and double showers. You can do your own laundry, thanks to the full facilities here. If you are tired of looking out into the peaceful environment, there are flat-screen tvs in the lounge and bedroom, so by all means, be couch potatoes!
Stillwater at Crittenden
25 Harrisons Road
For more information, please check their Website here.
*Photos without watermark are courtesy of Stillwater.