Eight reasons to get excited about regional Victorian road trips this summer

John Di Pietro and Anna Gallo at Pietro Gallus Estate in Warrandyte are set to open a grappa tasting room.
John Di Pietro and Anna Gallo at Pietro Gallus Estate in Warrandyte are set to open a grappa tasting room. Photo: Supplied

Those travelling to regional Victoria after another long winter of lockdowns will be spoiled for choice when it comes to eating and drinking well. At least eight new venues are set to open in the next six months.

Bar Merenda, Daylesford

Warm service, simple cooking and exciting wines are in store at this 22-seater from couple Andy Ainsworth and Clare O'Flynn. Using vegetables from their plot at nearby Stone Hills Farm, Ainsworth (ex 10 William Street, Sydney) will also showcase local charcuterie. O'Flynn, a graphic designer and illustrator, is overseeing the fitout and will run front-of-house.

Gold Mines Hotel, Bendigo

Owner-chef Tim Foster is at work on a more formal menu for the dining room of the 150-year-old pub he bought in late 2018. Foster, who sold his other restaurant, Kyneton's Source Dining, in April, will transfer that seasonal focus here, aided by the kitchen garden. Following a few cosmetic touch-ups, the dining room is tipped to open in October.

Artist's impression of the front bar of Grand Hotel Portarlington, set to open in December after nine months of renovations.
For Good Food, 21 September, 2021

Artist's impression of the front bar of Portarlington's Grand Hotel. Photo: Supplied

Grand Hotel, Portarlington

Nine months of renovations on this waterside dame will be revealed in December, from refreshed front bar and beer garden to 18 new hotel rooms. Accommodating nearly 400 patrons inside and out, four separate dining areas will offer wood-fired pizza, local seafood and classic pub meals with modern flair. The chef's name is under wraps for now.

Pietro Gallus, Warrandyte


Victoria's spirits boom takes a new direction this spring, with the opening of a grappa tasting bar at the first Australian distillery of the grape-based spirit. Pietro Gallus is set on eight hectares with vineyards, citrus trees, olive groves, Olivigna restaurant and, in October or when restrictions ease, the tasting bar, which has jaw-dropping views.

Sardine Dining and Wine Store, Paynesville

Destination seafood restaurant Sardine has flipped a neighbouring dress shop into a wine bar and deli, serving simple drinking food and selling wine to go. Think Gippsland cheese, conservas (Spanish canned seafood), cured meats and, come summer, picnic hampers. It opens next week.

Restaurateur Denis Lucey with manager Cait Mitchelhill and chef Simon Arkless, the trio behind new restaurant Yardbird, opening in Albury in November.
For Good Food, 21 September, 2021

Denis Lucey, Cait Mitchelhill and Simon Arkless ae teaming up for Yardbird. Photo: Supplied

Yardbird, Albury

Relaxed European dining underpinned by wood-fired cooking is a strong combo, but even more so in the hands of Simon Arkless and Cait Mitchelhill, last seen at The Terrace in Wahgunyah. Joining restaurateur Denis Lucey, the trio will open Yardbird in a former mechanics' workshop in November. The front courtyard, 13-metre bar, booths and high-top tables will be the hottest seats in town.

Also coming

The Continental Sorrento is reopening in December with 13 hospitality spaces and food by Scott Pickett; and Healesville gin distiller Four Pillars' $6 million redevelopment, complete with new hospitality spaces, will be revealed in the first quarter of 2022.