If the crowds heading to Merricks North are anything to go by, there's a big appetite for Rare Hare.
The restaurant, wine bar and produce store at the new home of Willow Creek Wines on the Mornington Peninsula has floor-to-ceiling windows revealing vines stretching to the forest and the winery's barrel room is visible from the dining room.
Despite the vast scale of the room, Rare Hare feels homely – helped by redbrick floors, a double-sided fireplace, communal timber tables and a menu suited to sharing and sampling.
Seasonal vegetables are a highlight – think carrots with labne, dukkah and pesto with splinters of pistachio, or green tomato with creamy burrata, almonds and tarragon.
Meat eaters will be equally happy with a range of aged salumi, kangaroo tartare with white soy or snapper with smoked mussel butter, which go particularly well with the chardonnays and pinots for which Willow Creek is known.
Helpfully, for those making the drive back to Melbourne, wine is available by the half glass. But for those wanting to linger longer, from April 1, you can book in at Jackalope, the new luxury hotel just a bunny hop from Rare Hare.
Willow Creek's more upscale restaurant, Doot Doot Doot, will also open on April 1.
Open Mon-Thu 11am–5pm; Fri-Sun 11am–9pm.
166 Balnarring Road, Merricks North, 03 5931 2501, rarehare.com.au