86a Olinda-Monbulk Road
Cuisine: Modern Australian, High Tea, Tea
Taste Rating: 7.5/10 Value Rating: 7.5/10
Sat, 27 Apr 2013
We drove along the single-lane road winding up into the Dandenong Mountains. It was a beautiful autumn day. At this time of year, it is normally cool in the mountains but I didn't need a jacket today, even when outdoors. The sun shone through the lovely autumn foliage. Yet there was plenty of shady greenery from the grand trees and huge ferns along the road. It was the best of both worlds, creating a sense of cool and calm as we cruised along. Our destination was Olinda Tea House.
First impression was good. Lovely old trees with autumn leaves and dappled sunlight overlooked the car park in front.
|Dappled Sunlight through the trees|
Next was the feature wall with a gateway. I had not read anything of the history of this place before this visit. There is a subtle oriental feel to the place upon entering the gateway. It was only later when I spoke to the lady at the counter that I learnt this tea house was a family-run place, with her parents and her working there. Later, I read a short history on the Olinda Tea House website of how this place came to be.
|Wall with Gateway|
We arrived about 2.30pm on a Saturday. I had made a booking as the person who answered the phone said they were very busy. Sure enough, the place was bustling, even at this late hour. We were running late and our table had been re-allocated to someone else - which is perfectly understandable as they would have needed all the tables that day. We waited about 20 mins before a table was allocated to us. I believe the kitchen closes at 4 pm for main meals, but scones and tea are still available after that. There were people arriving as we left about 4 pm.
The inside dining room has plenty of natural light. Tables near the windows would have a view of the beautiful tree views surrounding the restaurant. There is a dining area on a balcony outside but we were told by a staff member that there were a few wasps about so we opted for the inside dining area.
We ordered the duck confit, pan-fried salmon and rump lamb. There were a good number of staff working and they all seemed very busy taking orders and delivering meals to tables. Our meals arrived about 30 mins after ordering. More than enough time for me to take photos of the surroundings. I have to say the meals were worth the wait. All three dishes were delicious. The attention to detail is good and little touches make the side salads and accompaniments interesting.
I had the confit duck with braised puy lentils and pancetta, with a salad of pear, rocket and blue cheese with hazelnuts. I enjoyed this meal. Even though confit duck is a rich dish, this meal feels healthy with the lentils and salad. The duck was well cooked with flesh that falls off the bone, with crispy outer flesh and skin. The salad was nice with a variety of flavours and textures. Leafy and crunchy. The puy lentils were interesting with the colour of pebbles and a firm texture, almost like chickpeas in texture and taste. The pear strips were crispy and sweet. Surprisingly, the hazelnuts were crunchy even though they were covered with the dressing. The only thing I didn't like was the pancetta - but that is only because I don't like fatty meat. Oh, and I am not a fan of raw onion rings which were in the salad but again that's a matter of personal taste, and these were finely sliced. Blue veined cheese is not my first choice in cheeses so it turned out well that I couldn't detect this in the salad.
|Duck Confit - another view|
The pan-fried fillet of salmon was served with buttered baby leeks, saffron potatoes and salsa verde. Though not mentioned on the menu, the salad also includes slices of ruby grapefruit which gives a nice tangy touch. There was a generous large juicy lemon half, not the tiny lemon slices that some places give you. They even shaved off the bottom of the lemon half - I assume this is so that it would sit properly on the plate without rolling off. As I mentioned, attention to detail. The salmon was well-cooked and tasty. The salsa verde is not bad - a touch salty but works well with the dish. The saffron potatoes were a big hit.
|Pan-fried fillet of Salmon|
The rump of lamb was served with a salad of broad beans, peas, mint and fetta cheese, and rosemary roasted kipfler potatoes. The lamb was cooked very well - tender and juicy - and was well appreciated. The thinly sliced potatoes were not bad but would be nicer if sliced thicker so they are softer on the inside while crunchy on the outside.
|Rump of Lamb|
Overall, the prices are what you would expect to pay for a good meal in beautiful surroundings, and are not more expensive than what I pay in several city or suburban restaurants minus the view. The dishes were delicious and well presented. Factor in extra time on busy days for your meals to be served. I would be happy to return, and also to bring guests for a day out in the Dandenong Mountains culminating in a nice meal at Olinda Tea House.
Menu - Salad, Mains
Inside and Outside Olinda Tea House
|Rock sugar, with mini tongs|
|Nice touch - your bill arrives in a tea cup and saucer like these|
|Peaceful Autumn Scene at the back of Olinda Tea House|
|Colourful Toadstools - POISONOUS, DO NOT EAT!|