67 Point Lonsdale Road Point Lonsdale, VIC 3225
WHERE AND WHAT
It helps to be a hard-working kind of restaurant to make a go of it at a small town by the seaside. In the Bellarine Peninsula town of Point Lonsdale, Kelp is the very definition of the multitasking hospitality business, starting the day early with eggs and bacon, moving on to the lunch crowd, and finishing the day with the kitchen shifting into top gear, producing food of style and substance worthy of the special night out.
WHERE TO SIT
A double shop-front on Point Lonsdale's main drag catches the morning sun at umbrella-shaded tables, where locals linger over coffee and the day's newspapers; inside, the two-tiered dining area has the hallmarks of the modern restaurant makeover, with a minimalist design in shades of dark grey and beige. There's a water feature at the back, an open kitchen to the side and wide, white-leather bucket seats, grey banquettes and dark wood tables. Just in case you forget your geographic location, some aquatic-themed art adorns the walls.
WHEN TO GO
Monday and Tuesday 8am-5pm; Wednesday to Saturday 8am-late; Sunday 8am-6pm.
They'll let you BYO, although it's more likely to be something good from the cellar than a cheapie from the bottle shop with corkage at $20 a bottle. A well-priced wine list has a global view, but plenty of regional affection.
Mornings start with pea fritters and smoked salmon, grilled asparagus and aioli, and mighty egg-and-bacon sourdough toasties. Lunches are for the approachable likes of calamari salad and the wagyu burger, and at night the restaurant cracks out the slate plates. It's good to see local produce dotted about the menu. You might find Drysdale haloumi in a smart starter with pistachio pesto, a pumpkin and sweet potato ''biscuit'' and fat confit tomatoes; and local scallops seared with a zesty paw paw salad with a distinctly Thai dressing based in lime and palm sugar. Mains are big and satisfying: lamb Wellington wrapped in brioche, with minted pea puree and rosemary jus; or a golden-skinned fillet of blue-eye with a puree of artichoke and parsnip. Desserts are also bold and beautiful: a tumble of Persian fairy floss crowns a tea-poached pear with a fudge brownie and minty creme anglaise. The mostly young, black-clad floor staff prove you can get good service in the country.
Daytime: locals on their way to work or having a quick lunch. Night-time: blow-ins from the nearby area and Geelong.
Smart and snappy, Kelp is whatever you want it to be.