309 Melrose Dr Tullamarine, VIC 3043
|Opening hours||Sun-Thu 8am-8.30pm; Fri-Sat 7am-9pm|
|Features||Outdoor seating, Licensed, Breakfast-brunch, Views, Accepts bookings|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
The ever-growing Three Blue Ducks dining empire is the kind of cult you can get behind. Founded by a crew of food-and-surf-obsessed mates with a keen eye for the cutting edge, their eateries are better described as lifestyle dining experiences than classic restaurants.
Consider the original in Bronte, built to service the sandy-hoofed crowd who care deeply about the provenance of their kombucha and blood pudding. The Farm in Byron Bay comes with a petting zoo and is a magnet for people whose R.M. Williams boots have never been sullied by actual manure.
It was a no-brainer to pair the aesthetically pleasing, ethical food concept founded by Mark LaBrooy, Chris Sorrell and Sam Reid-Boquist in 2010, with the southern hemisphere's biggest man-made surf park, located a spit from the airport.
It's worth investigating, even if you're not quite sure what it means to hang 10. The stunning blue and rhythmic crashing makes for a hell of a waterside view from a seat at the beachy blondwood patio.
All of the Three Blue Ducks principals, including the high-profile Darren Robertson, (and many of their signature dishes) are in action here. Radiant wellness warriors are catered for with breakfasts rich in egg-free options such as harissa-spiced pumpkin with turmeric cashew cream, or avocado hummus and grilled haloumi.
That said, the spanner crab omelette with house-made sriracha and papaya salad is a signature, and so is the ballsy, shirt-staining fried egg and bacon roll, which you can buttress with a bloody mary if you need a little Dutch courage before tackling the waves.
On that, Three Blue Ducks has a drinks offering you could drown in. With the exceptions of a skinsy wine from Blind Corner in WA and a SA shiraz, the list is loyal to Victorian labels such as Oakridge, Boomtown and Mac Forbes.
Local brewers like Stomping Ground and Bridge Road dominate a beer list that runs from lagers to Bodriggy's fruity and mellow Cosmic Microwave NEIPA.
That's before you even hit the cold-pressed juice vein, the smoothies and kombuchas.
The Ducks also have their own tea range and if you want to play a straight game, Lyre's booze-free bitter Italian spirit mixed with lemon, orange and soda makes a Noperol spritz that scratches an itch.
Lunch and dinner roll into a flexible arrangement. Spicy kingfish ceviche? Tick. Buttermilk fried chicken? Present. Giant flame-grilled steak to split between your surf crew? Obviously.
A fistful of prawns and smoky Marie Rose sauce comes with a crunchy quad of cos lettuce squiggled with green goddess dressing. Add a serve of Iggy's bread, top up your sunscreen and marvel at the engineering feats before you.
From their more advanced options, a meaty octopus tentacle is crimson with a paprika-heavy spice mix that is soothed by a potato sauce and a fresh little barley tabbouleh.
A vegan pizza has a creative solution to its dairy-free remit, using creamed leek topped with the deeply vibrant bloom of midnight pearl potatoes and a scatter of capers, though we find it's bettered by adding hot sauce for bang.
Is this a restaurant experience polished to a high shine? The execution on this visit isn't as perfect as the waves breaking in view. The plating is rushed and unless you specify differently (which you should), everything arrives at once, from entrees to mains.
Even so, the Three Blue Ducks crew hasn't built a cult following for nothing. This is a carefully planned menu that lends itself to being very decent, even on a down shift. See the rotisserie chicken laced with a capsicum glaze and roasty spices, Portuguese-style – it's all the joy of a barbecue chook with a fiery edge. You can't lose.
Even with wobbles, this is a singular experience I can get behind. Where else can offer you a set of 12 perfect waves an hour and a whisky flight chaser?
If you don't plan on getting your fins wet, it's a mere eight-minute ride to the Qantas terminal, making a decompression session of black pudding and good coffee ahead of or after flights a wildly exciting new proposition.
I'm not the only one who has had the idea. People have been rolling in with their suitcases. And while the surfing ain't cheap, entry to the outer grass, gardens and hot tubs is just $5.
We need to wash away the blues of 2020, and praise be to the Three Blue Ducks. They know how to get it done.
Pro Tip: Take a surf lesson, choose to swim only or get grounds entry for $5. Restaurant entry free.