La Petanque

How did people decide on places to eat and activities to do before the internet? When I started planning our Mornington Peninsula weekend a couple of days before heading down there, I looked at blogs, websites, checked out menus, and I even made restaurant bookings online.

One place I booked was La Petanque, located in Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula. It’s a casual, southern French style restaurant seating 60 that’s located in a rustic wooden building with rose and herb gardens leading to the entrance. Inside, it’s all wooden floors, wooden ceiling beams, tables with white tablecloths and large windows.

After ordering, we were brought out marinated olives, olive oil and fresh bread rolls from the oven. You know that I don’t really eat bread, but I couldn’t resist it because it was still warm from the oven. The marinated olives made me think of soy sauce chicken… but without chicken obviously. They had a dark, salty star anise flavour – very intriguing and moreish.

Before our entrees arrived, we were served a little amuse bouche of a vibrant roasted cherry tomato filled with spring vegetables. A sweet and flavourful bite, it certainly whet our appetite for the rest of the meal.

My entrée was the pan-fried lamb sweetbreads, served with broad beans, fried capers, toasted hazelnuts and fried sage ($22). Look at how pretty it is – almost too pretty to eat, and how often can you say that about offal?! This was a rather spectacularly rich dish but I enjoyed every bit of it, from the sweetbreads to the crunchy hazelnuts, and the broad beans that helped cut through some of the richness.

Alastair had the ravioles of Echuca fresh water yabbies with salmon roe and a chive and yabby bisque reduction ($25). Filled with identifiable yabby meat in a slightly spicy broth, he was very satisfied with his choice.

And funnily enough, he didn’t want to taste my entree after I explained what sweetbreads were.

For mains, Alastair had the honey glazed Otway pork belly with blue swimmer crab, tarragon, baby turnip, oyster mushroom and preserved lemon jus ($39). On one side of his interestingly shaped plate was a big slab of pork belly. He gave me some pork belly to try and it was superb – the thin skin was honey sweet and crispy, with only a minimal amount of fat underneath, and of course the flesh was tender and succulent. It was cooked really, really well.

On the other side of his plate was a mound of crab meat and a couple of baby leeks.

I was happy that I selected a lighter main after my rich entrée – mine was a snapper fillet with celeriac mousseline, baby carrots, Mount Martha’s mussels, chorizo and a light emulsion ($39). It was lighter, but it was still fantastic – the fish was perfectly cooked and flaked easily. I also loved the silky celeriac mousseline that went perfectly with it. And the carrots, mussels and chorizo on the side of the plate I ate separately.

We skipped dessert, and had a couple of coffees instead ($5 each). The coffees came out with a couple of chocolate truffles – decadent and creamy and the perfect end to lunch.

La Petanque gets a bit fat tick in my opinion. The food was fantastic, perfectly cooked and as you can see – gorgeously presented. On weekdays they have a lunch special where you can get tasting size dishes of 2 courses for $35, 3 courses for $50 and 4 courses for $65 – superb value. I would love to go back to try out the rest of the menu and enjoy another lovely, leisurely meal.

For more on La Petanque, check out these bloggers, who all enjoyed their visit:

  • Frannie’s Kitchen
  • Tubbymasu
  • While Absolutely Famished wasn’t so sure.

    [googleMap name=”La Petanque” width=”600″ height=”300″ directions_to=”false”]1208 Mornington-Flinders Road Main Ridge VIC 3928 Australia[/googleMap]

    La Petanque
    1208 Mornington-Flinders Road
    Main Ridge VIC 3928
    Phone: (03)5931 0155

    La Petanque on Urbanspoon