19-21 Woods St Beaconsfield, VIC 3807
|Opening hours||Sat-Sun noon-1.30pm, Thu-Sun 6pm-8pm|
|Features||Accepts bookings, Degustation, Green-eco focus, Licensed, Private dining, Romance-first date, Wheelchair access, Vegetarian friendly, Outdoor seating, Gluten-free options|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9769 9000|
After six years, the Bertoncello brothers – Chayse on the floor, Blayne in the kitchen – have relocated their intimate outer-suburban paddock-to-plate restaurant. They haven't shifted far, just next door, into Beaconsfield's original post office.
The new restaurant is more spacious than the old butcher shop, and there is a bar attached, but it's no great expansion. They still serve up to 30 people for just six meals a week. Spotlit timber tables are oriented towards the kitchen and chefs deliver some dishes in a culmination of the farm-to-table tale. It feels special but it's far from formal.
The set menu is so truly seasonal that some dishes are only on for one night, and the nine or so courses spring from produce grown at O.My's 1.5 hectare farm in nearby Cardinia. Lots of restaurants grow a few herbs but this one doesn't buy any fruit or veg.
The reverence they show their plants – nurtured from seed, coaxed to maturity, harvested with care, cooked with loving caress – is contagious. You'll never feel as excited about vegetable trimmings as you do here.
The rigours of farming underpin a no-waste focus that leads to dishes such as pumpkin tortellini, where the pasta is made from flour derived from pumpkin offcuts then filled with pumpkin seed praline and pickled pumpkin skin.
A Jerusalem artichoke dish looks like a plain white mound but it's a paean to this underloved, knobbly tuber. Spice-pickled slices of artichoke reveal fried skins, sweet, nutty puree, caramelised pot-roasted artichokes and, at the base, a slow-cooked egg yolk from one of the Bertoncellos' 60 chooks. The dish is a wholly enjoyable balance of fat, acid, salt and sweet, expressed with just one vegetable.
Meat is used sparingly. Rescued chicken carcases are turned into a jus that glazes lovingly slow-roasted cabbage. Whole beasts come from micro-farmers who know each animal by name. In fact, a cow called Norman is currently in the coolroom; the farmer who raised him often pops in to see how he's being used. Norman is now sausages, some of him is being cured, a little of his rump is served as the final savoury course.
Bread is a thread in the narrative arc of each meal. You'll eat excellent sourdough with butter and a rich beef tallow spread. You'll sip sourdough consomme. Loaf ends are turned into pastry for a dainty preserved tomato tart. There's even a pudding made with sourdough-infused cream. Again, when you've worked so hard to make something, you don't want to throw away a crumb.
The O.My ethos is underlined by a visible passion for preserving. The path to the toilets is via a winding grotto lined with jars: tomato sauce, salted apple leaves, dried persimmon, all speaking to economy, sustainability and experimental glee.
A cucumber dessert is an accretion of the restaurant's passions. Cucumber juice saved from summer is turned into granita. Honey ice-cream is made with the help of O.My's bees. Egg white meringue is whipped from whites left over from the yolks in the artichoke dish. A wonderfully acidic caramel made with whey is drizzled over it. As the first dessert, it's both palate cleanser and sweet treat. As food, it's also philosophy and, oh my, it's also delicious.
Rating: Four and a half stars (out of five)