The Age Good Food Guide - 2016 Edition 14.5/20
According to Oakdene's switched-on waitstaff, one of the owners believes she has the worst taste in the world, 'but when you put it all together, it works'. It's true: the place is a joy to behold. Leggy lampshades, a boxy blue dog, terracotta walls and exposed rafters help create Oakdene's quirky look. The food is similarly joyous. A ribbon of lustrous cured pork jowl connects a liberal quenelle of gorgonzola cream and local Curlewis figs, while a black matte plate is a blank canvas for vivid orange chipotle-roasted swordfish loin with tequila nad lime snow. Mains are sizable and might include barramundi with local pipis in an enticing ginger and wakame emulsion, or fatty lamb brisket with pickled cauliflower for balance. From the assortment of soils, sorbets and jellies in the artistic desserts to the table settings of plaid napkins and vases filled with wooden spoons and paintbrushes, the pleasure of Oakdene is to digest the details.
The Age Good Food Guide - 2015 Edition 14.5/20
The Oakdene estate includes many attractions. There's the cellar door building (made to look like it's tipped on its side; tipsy?), strollable grounds dotted with sculptures (like the wheelbarrow tree), a decommissioned train and a fine-dining restaurant. Housed in the original gable-ceilinged 1920s house, the main dining room is loudly coloured with collections of art glass and paintings. The food, too, is energetic: many dishes are made up of multiple elements, and the menu changes almost weekly using what's in season. It's also elegant and refined, as in entrees like tender octopus pieces arranged on charry potato discs. Mains might include a crisp-skinned barramundi fillet topped with floured-and-fried calamari served with a scoop each of Oakdene olive tapenade and cauliflower puree; or some prime beef from the grill. A chocolate sorbet and mousse dessert has tiny marshmallows here, 'soil' scattered there, a leaf placed just so. It's a delightful dinner, lunch or day out.
AND ... A casual pizza and pasta cafe is due to open on-site in September 2014
The Age Good Food Guide – 2014 Edition 14.5/20
With its brightly coloured collection of buildings, quirky sculptures and dining room that mixes up scarlet walls with timber panelling, no one could accuse Oakdene of being dull. In the main restaurant, the fine-dining menu aims so high you might wonder if they can really pull it off. It’s a relief, then, when beautifully plated dishes start to arrive: a flower-like arrangement of cured Queenscliff kingfish and barbequed octopus with pureed avocado, hot pink radish and popcorn that’s a lesson in subtle flavouring and texture; a darkly sticky chunk of pork belly with crisp strands of ear; a simply arranged soft-shell crab piled with matchsticks of apple and endive; or a whole crisp sand mullet with garlic, chilli, lime, coriander and a pickled papaya salad. And don’t miss the sensational dessert sampler, which might include a mini choc banana pie, a perfect panna cotta and a pair of house-made ice-creams. Service from the young team is exceptional.
The Age Good Food Guide – 2013 Edition
‘Country eclectic’ might best describe the setting in which you’ll dine at Oakene, but don’t let the charismatic mash-up of regional art gallery and log cabin distract from the serious ambition in the kitchen. There’s an endearing eccentricity to the objects peering out from every ochre nook of this boldly coloured and hospitable dining room, but genuine purpose in the menu, which might list sweet curls of local crayfish, keeping enoki and pumpkin ‘tofu’ company in a pure ham broth; wagyu carpaccio in a harmonious crowd of truffled pecorino, potato galette, soft egg gribiohe, watercress and pungent horseradish ‘snow’. Mains might feature local seafood (Queenscliff kingfish and Portarlington mussels) with native finger lime; slow-cooked kurobuta pork belly with white sausage, lentils, witlof and shiitakes; wagyu steak from the grill; or a salad of raw and cooked beetroot in buttermilk with candied walnuts. Desserts, such as banana toffee cream pie with salted caramel icecream, round things off perfectly.
Golden Plate Awards - 2012
On entering Oakdene’s Vineyard Restaurant it is like arriving at a party with lights hanging in the trees, the strong colours used on the walls and many decorative items on display inside and around the gardens. The effect is bold, eclectic, cluttered, cheerful and very assured. There is much to recommend the food at Oakdene. The dishes are imaginative and inventive, make good use of local ingredients, such as Otway shiitake mushrooms, thirlemere duck, and the skipton eel. The presentation of Oakdene’s dishes is outstanding – the chawanmushi, for example, presented in a Japanese lidded bowl. In addition to the chawanmushi, we sampled the quail bastille with quinoa and roasted eggplant, then the duck breast with salted cucumber and canteloup, and the lamb with Jerusalem artichokes and pistachio butter. The desserts at Oakdene are particularly exceptional – the Valrhona chocolate delice, with orange cake and vanilla ice was brilliant in its conception and execution. Oakdene is also a Vineyard and it’s wines are the strength of the restaurant’s wine list. The pinot noir is particularly good. The customer service at Oakdene is excellent. From the moment of entry – when Front of House Manager Michael opened the door as we were approaching it everything went well. Service is smooth, waitstaff are friendly and well informed. In terms of value for money a minimum charge makes good sense for this restaurant. The two courses ($58.00) are very good value and three ($68.00) are good value too. The degustation menu is a very substantial meal that showcases many local foods and wines.