70 Princes Hwy Beaconsfield, VIC 3807
|Opening hours||Sat-Sun noon-1.30pm, Thu-Fri 6pm-8pm; Sat-Sun 6.30pm-8pm|
|Features||Accepts bookings, Degustation, Green-eco focus, Licensed, Private dining, Romance-first date, Wheelchair access, Vegetarian friendly, Outdoor seating, Gluten-free options, Bar|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9769 9000|
On paper it's a low-waste fine diner that has been living high on its own gardens' supply for the past five years. That's reason enough to go right there. But there's more to this Beaconsfield success story.
This is a restaurant founded on some genuine can-do, seat-of-the-pants energy. Started by three Bertoncello brothers (chef Blayne, Tyson who has since changed vocations, and sommelier-in-training Chayse), the plan to launch a high-end self-sufficient restaurant in the burbs would have been big for anyone. Add in their age (all were under 27 in 2013), and lack of significant restaurant experience (Blayne had worked at one other restaurant; Chayse couldn't stop swearing). And yet they landed a shockingly well-realised package.
Fast-forward eight years, one pandemic, and a gut-wrenching fire that put a charred cherry on the brothers' 2020, and this is one of the smartest and most likeable fine-dining experiences in Victoria.
Time has smoothed some rougher edges but the character is intact.
Dinner begins with a row of nigiri such as you've never seen – tiny, shiny sheets of bresaola drape over a beetroot pack in place of rice, with a floral lift of lemon verbena; carrot rice supports crunchy, fleshy day lily petals with a notch of pickled radish; while the one legit fish number sees well-seasoned raw rock flathead counterbalancing a savoury-sweet tangle of apple dotted with bay oil.
Next comes one plump oyster from Mimosa on the NSW coast, its cream-and-brine freshened and beautified by buttermilk and a blanket of mouse melons (those very cute fruits you might know as cucamelons).
Finishing up the finger food comes the pure comfort tart featuring multiple tomato varietals in a hot flaky pastry dripping with creme fraiche and chicken jus.
And of course there is zucchini (they're monstering gardens everywhere right now), threaded on a rosemary skewer and painted with a lick of onion jus and sage.
You'll notice at this juncture that the most you have seen of meat is a teensy beef tartare loaded onto a single chip with egg yolk and finger lime caviar. This comes from the one beef carcass they receive and break down once every 10 weeks. Minimal waste and maximum impact is a lived philosophy here, and it's not merely virtuous, it makes a marathon meal so much easier to eat.
By the time the bread arrives you're still raring to go. Which is lucky, given this is essentially the star of the show. The sourdough starter has been with the restaurant from the beginning. A Good Food Guide writer once ominously joked that the restaurant had better hope there is never a fire, lest they lose their asset. When fire struck last year, you better believe it was snatched from the flames.
You can see why. The airy, fluffy middle is circled by a deeply flavoured crust. Swiped though the house-cultured butter or whipped beef tallow with a sprinkle of garden salt (herbs dried into the seasoning), it's destination bread.
Would you come for a single slice? You could. Last year's devastating fire led to a sleepless 16-day renovation of a nearby restaurant, though you would never know it was so rapid. The space feels fully realised, an inky but well-lit fine diner with an entranceway stacked to the brim with colourful preserves, and fixtures of wood, stone and local ceramics providing earthy gravitas.
Thankfully, they managed to integrate their casual offshoot, Ned's Lounge, into the space, meaning loyal locals can still stop for snacks and a Two Metre Tall beer or bottle of the well-nurtured wines that Chayse throws his weight behind.
The local, sustainable and ethical principles are deep here, they don't need to boast about it. Instead, you get a map of the gardens for your own perusal. But make no mistake, those values make O.MY magic.
Your fish course is a perfectly crisp-skinned slip of whiting that gets kudos for its Good Fish Project origins and for the knock-out deliciousness of its brandied cumquat puree and floral ribbons of carrots.
And then there's just the excellent buzz you get from having your mind blown by a fleetingly seasonal, full celebration of one vegetable (say, jerusalem artichoke, roasted, pureed and pickled for a full party with a rich dip of egg yolk), or the brilliant solution to using spare sourdough by turning it into a heavily reduced stock, which when dunked with fresh herbs becomes a complex, meaty sipper to go with your beef.
Want to talk community? Their Cardinia gardens have a special section of heirloom vegetables donated by green-thumbed and totally enamoured diners.
They donate excess produce to chefs around town. In return, expect to drink Embla chef Dave Verheul's stunning Saison vermouth with dessert.
Garden-driven and community-oriented, O.MY makes the way we know we should be eating the way we want to eat all the time.
Drinks: All-Australian stars of delicious sustainable winemaking.
Cost: Set menu $185 a head; wine match $115 a head (optional).
Pro Tip: Farm tours and sourdough classes will soon be available at the Cardinia gardens.