Your guide to the Mornington Peninsula's new mega venue, The Continental Sorrento

The remaining elements of The Continental Sorrento have reopened after $120 million in renovations.
The remaining elements of The Continental Sorrento have reopened after $120 million in renovations.  Photo: Greg Elms

The Continental Sorrento is again pouring beers, grilling steaks and hosting live acts, after a five-year hiatus and the completion of a $120 million redevelopment.

The 147-year-old landmark of the Mornington Peninsula is now a sprawling complex offering casual dining for all ages through to late-night cocktails and snacks in a speakeasy-style bar.

More spaces will open in late July as part of the five-star InterContinental Sorrento Mornington Peninsula accommodation.

The Continental is definitely in mega venue territory, so how do you best tackle all that's on offer?

"There's different things I want from the Conti during different times," says chef Scott Pickett, who has overseen all the menus and is a partner in the project.

Chef Scott Pickett in Audrey's restaurant, upstairs at the new Continental Sorrento.
Chef Scott Pickett in Audrey's restaurant, upstairs at the new Continental Sorrento. Photo: Wayne Taylor

"Something we were really mindful of [was] we wanted to have something for everyone at different times of their day or their week, or their holiday or their year."

Here's how that plays out on the ground, along with a few tips from Pickett himself.

The Conti – Public Bar, Beer Garden and The Promenade

Easily the most scrutinised part of any pub renovation is the front bar. The Conti's is set within the original heritage limestone facade of the building, and is joined by a covered beer garden with five-metre glass ceilings. Together, they can cater to 394 pub-goers looking for fish and chips with fennel and cornichon slaw, fried chicken burgers or salads and small plates.

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Pickett has also added six Thai dishes from Longrain, one of his CBD venues, while a Josper wood grill chars steaks, pork sausages and beef skewers.

Breezy and casual street-side concession The Promenade is outdoors but well protected by glass walls, heaters and decking that's elevated above street level. Nab a spot for drinks, lunch or snacks as you watch Sorrento saunter past.

Pro tip: Pickett's perfect day in the public bar involves a smash burger, made with grass-fed beef and a touch of wagyu. Or perhaps a dry-aged steak with a baked potato, perched on his favourite seat in the beer garden. It's got a good view of the TV, great people watching and is only a short distance to the bar.

The chicken parmigiana from the public bar menu is among the pub classics on offer.
The chicken parmigiana from the public bar menu is among the pub classics on offer. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Audrey's

Upstairs and at the other end of the spectrum is fine-diner Audrey's, where seafood rules and Mornington Peninsula producers are the heroes. Pickett says he was inspired by seaside holidays with his grandmother (the restaurant's namesake) when designing the menu, although it's undoubtedly a few shades ritzier than the chef's childhood memories. Mornington Peninsula squid with shiitake XO sauce, and snacks like barbecued abalone with bonito or glazed eel on melba toast, are part of the five-course set menu that Pickett has designed with chef Nick Deligannis (ex-Frederic). 

Pro tip: Don't want to commit to the $150 set menu? Try your luck on one of 10 seats at the raw bar, where oysters and the full raft of snacks are at your disposal.

The Atrium

Similar to a hotel lobby bar and restaurant, this haven upstairs is open all day on weekends for club sandwiches, a bowl of handmade pasta or cakes and champagne in the afternoon. The light-flooded space features geometric patterned marble floors, hanging plants and rattan furniture, with a redbrick chimney that together paint a glamorous seaside hotel scene.

Mornington Peninsula squid, shiitake XO and rosemary potatoes at Audrey's.
Mornington Peninsula squid, shiitake XO and rosemary potatoes at Audrey's. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Pro tip: Think of The Atrium as the Goldilocks venue of the hotel. "If I don't want to go to Audrey's but the pub's packed, I can go to The Atrium," says Pickett. 

Barlow

The weekend starts early at Barlow. From Thursday night, it's pouring cocktails designed by the Speakeasy Group (also behind Eau De Vie), joined by snacks such as spanner crab and prawn spring rolls. The bar's wood-panelled walls, custom sound system and jewel tones will be the backdrop to comedians, bands and more during peak periods, like school holidays and summer. In between, it's all about the late-night vibes that the Conti was once known for.

Pro tip: The snack menu, particularly floppy triangles of New York-style pizza, is helpful for killing any booze-fuelled hunger pangs. "There's no souvlaki trucks in Sorrento, so you can grab something [on your way out] if you're hungry," says Pickett.

Barlow, a late-night speakeasy-style venue, will host live comedy and music as well as serving late-night snacks.
Barlow, a late-night speakeasy-style venue, will host live comedy and music as well as serving late-night snacks. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Opening hours vary for each venue; check the website for details

1-21 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento, 03 5935 1200, thecontinentalsorrento.com.au