GEELONG ADVERTISER WRITES:
BELLARINE vineyard Jack Rabbit has won the prestigious Golden Plate culinary award for 2019. The Jack Rabbit team was “hopping” with excitement after the vineyard was declared the State Winner at Ocean Grove’s Dunes Restaurant last night.
About 200 of the state’s top culinary achievers attended the 18th Golden Plate Awards among finalists from Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Daylesford and Echuca.
Jack Rabbit won the title for the first time among a strong field of regional Victorian contenders, including last year’s Bellarine based winner Merne.
Jack Rabbit also took out a contemporary dining award.
Jack Rabbit is known for its delectable food and sophisticated cool climate wines, while boasting views across the bay to Geelong, the You Yangs and Melbourne.
WHAT DID THE JUDGES HAVE TO SAY?
Ambience: Jack Rabbit Vineyard is situated at the edge of the Bellarine Peninsula. The restaurant is designed to maximise the perfect spot that it is built in with large windows to show case the incredible view. Sitting at our table I realised that the restaurant is designed so that every diner is able to see the view, a detail typical of Jack Rabbit where it seems that every effort has been made to create a smart, elegant restaurant. I really enjoy the design features of the restaurant- the lighting, the tables and chairs, and the gumboot flower vases. This is a restaurant that takes its job very seriously, yet still allows a touch of personality in the décor.
Customer service: From start to finish, the service at Jack Rabbit was excellent. Our young waitress was particularly good and had a lovely way of relating to her customers. Her wine and food knowledge was very good, and she was completely on top of every detail over the time we spent at Jack Rabbit. My friend has a dairy-free diet, which she only mentioned briefly at the start of our meal but I was so impressed when our waitress remembered this and asked us if we would like to have a look at the vegan dessert page. My friend was thrilled to find that she could have something for dessert, and we certainly wouldn’t have known this if it wasn’t brought to our attention. I thought that the standard of service was really high across the board, and that there is a large team but that they all seemed to be trained really well, and work well together
Food quality & presentation: I had been to Jack Rabbit for lunch several times before, and so I was expecting a high quality of food. When I read the menu however, I was really impressed, and excited to try the food. Jack Rabbit seems to have gone a step higher, and this menu really showed it to be true. I really loved the creativity shown with each dish, and the clever use of flavours and ingredients. I had the quail for my entrée, and this was my standout dish. I just loved the excitement of all the flavours, that they were all really well balanced and delicious, and that the quail was perfectly cooked. This is really good food, and impressive from start to finish. Clever combinations of flavours, perfectly handled produce of a really high quality, and a good use of local ingredients make Jack Rabbit one of the best restaurants in the Geelong area.
Wines, beers, ciders and spirits: Jack Rabbit boasts a cellar door of high quality and award-winning wines. The wine and beverage list consist mostly of these wines, although whatever varietal is missed by Jack Rabbit is represented by Leura Park and other local vineyards. Local beers can also be found on the wine list, as well as locally made gin and cider. As much as possible Jack Rabbit promotes local and Australian made boutique products from speciality producers.
Value for money: Jack Rabbit is a beautiful restaurant, and a place to go to celebrate or just simply enjoy the company of family and friends. The high standards of service, food and wine make it good value and the view just adds an extra dimension to the experience.
Judges’ comments: Jack Rabbit is a beautiful restaurant. The menu is exceptional, the produce sourced as locally as possible and of a very high standard. Each dish is presented well, with creativity, colour and texture. The service is excellent, and the view of the Bellarine coast line just amazing. There is no better way to spend a day than eating and drinking with friends or family at such a lovely place.