Nestled among native gums, overlooking an established olive grove and across emerging vines to the rip at Point Lonsdale, Point Nepean and Queenscliff, Merne at Lighthouse offers spectacular panoramic views to take in over a relaxed, long lunch.
As one of the Bellarine’s newest additions to the restaurant scene, Merne opened at the end of March and has since proved to be one of the region’s most popular venues.
The restaurant is a new adventure for four of the regions food experts – Matt Dempsey of Inverleigh Cellar and Kitchen (formerly Gladioli), Graham Jefferies of Tulip, local Caleb Fleet, previously front of house manager at The Vue Grand, and head chef Josh Smith.
Josh brings a significant amount of culinary experience to the table, having previously worked at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, the kitchen of the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld and was most recently the Sous Chef at Tulip.
Dishes are served ‘grazing style’ and are shared around the table. The food is sourced locally as well as responsibly. Produce is seen as the hero and modern cooking techniques are used to highlight and elevate, without masking its natural beauty.
“I want it to be a relaxed experience for diners. We have an interesting menu that people can share and my hope is that you discover something new and exciting,” Josh says.
With both a two-course and a four-course option available for lunch and dinner, the shared menu starts at $55 per person, which includes four grazing plates, two main meals and two sides – essentially eight dishes – with dessert an option at the end (the four courses includes two further dishes and dessert for $75). Patrons won’t leave feeling hungry.
Items on the menu change regularly, as local produce comes in and out of season.
There are also a good range of local drops on the beverage menu, including a large list of boutique and craft beers, Oakdene wines by the glass and a hand-selected range of fine wines available by the bottle.
“We’re using modern cooking techniques, delicious fresh, regional produce where possible and we boast professional, friendly waiters,” Matt Dempsey says.
The venue also offers packages for weddings and functions, and runs specialty dining events once a month.
This month’s dinner will be hosted on 30 November, starting at 7pm, with a ‘wood-fired seafood barbecue.’ You will be able to watch the chef prepare a seafood feast over hot coals, in the restaurant, which will be matched with Oakdene wine or paired with local craft beer.
More information can be found on the website www.merne.com.au
Merne is at 650 Andersons Road, Drysdale, on Lighthouse Olive Grove.
Bookings can be made for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights from 5.30pm, and for lunch from Thursday through to Monday from noon.
Phone 5251 5541 or email info@merne.com.au for more information.

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