98 Parker Street Dunkeld, Victoria 3294
|Opening hours||B L D Daily|
|Features||Bar, Accepts bookings, Accommodation, Breakfast-brunch, Business lunch, Degustation, Events, Green-eco focus, Groups, Licensed, Long lunch, Open fire, Outdoor seating, Private dining, Pub dining, Vegetarian friendly, Wheelchair access|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||(03) 5577 2241|
Sitting at the foot of the Grampians, the Royal Mail remains one of Australia’s great dining destinations. Having taken charge of the kitchen as last year’s Guide went to press, Robin Wickens, once the boy wonder of molecular gastronomy, has relaxed the restaurant’s rules to welcome a la carte as well as degustation diners. Similarly, his food loosens the belt a notch. Like this sleek pub, it’s elegant but a little bit country. Drawing on the bounty of the surrounding paddocks and gardens, menus celebrate the seasons: an ode to tomatoes in summer; perky pine mushroom ketchup beneath braised oxtail and a curl of calamari, and carrot risotto in a puddle of vivid green lovage in autumn. Dishes are often aromatic – a hint of lavender with lamb, eucalyptus scenting the ewe’s milk ice-cream that accompanies a dessert of quince. The stellar cellar and fine service remain. For most visitors, a trip to the Mail means two days away from home. Don’t be surprised if you want to linger longer.
And … Beautiful walking on the surrounding Mount Sturgeon Station.
Vibe Foodie road trip.
Best bit The food and location.
Worst bit Dining room somewhere between bland and blank canvas.