Ten Minutes by Tractor – photography before eating?
1333 Mornington Flinders Rd
Main Ridge, 3928
03 5989 6080
Even before we set off for our photography day out along the Mornington Peninsula, I was already scanning the web for dining options both lunch and dinner. Not to say I wasn’t enthusiastic about photography, but clearly I was much more focused on and enthusiastic about what I would be able to put on my palate.
In the end it came down to a number of estate restaurants, obviously one of them being Ten Minutes by Tractor. Being absent minded and all, I hadn’t made any reservations. Then for a number of reasons – different arrival times, delays, communication failure due to mobile dropouts etc etc – some of us arrived early at the restaurant. My two accompanying passengers were somewhat sceptical to this dining option, but were quite quickly convinced upon entry to this completely booked out restaurant. Yes, you heard right, BOOKED OUT!
Anyways, turns out we travelled down to Sorrento for a quick lunch, then Portsea for some photography, then back to Ten Minutes by Tractor for dinner. Luckily we were able to book a table for dinner – phew! Note to self: must always make a reservation.
Expansive views of the setting sun against the vineyard’s rolling hillside are a true relaxing sight. A base colour of white and black with splashes of deep red and contemporary gives the interior a minimalistic edge of elegance.
A rectangular slit behind our table gave us a small glimpse to the powerhouse behind the scenes. And. being a Sunday night it was a little quieter than the buzzing full capacity at lunch, allowing a much more relaxed ambience.
Aside the degustation menu, there are options for two or three courses – of which we all went for the two courses given we had lunch not that long ago.
A selection of warm bread to select from a bucket, served with butter, Ten minutes by tractor olive oil and pink salt.
Amuse bouche – Again my memory fails me, but I believe it was ocean trout with hints of fruit, crunch and cream – quite tantalising!
Prawn: Tiger prawns, seafood mousse, quinoa, cauliflower puree.
Marron: Western Australian Black Maron. Served cold with a purple cauliflower vinaigrette, lime cream, marinated crystal apple cucumber and dill pollen chips. (special of the day)
Of the few cuts of marron that was served, the meat was incredibly tender, only lightly seasoned to bring out the subtle aroma. The sweetness of broccolini, slight saltiness of crisps, daubs of creamy sauce, and a light hint of cucumber acidity bring a balanced complexity to the dish, whilst letting the quality of the core ingredient speak for themselves.
For those who aren’t familiar with marron, it is a fresh water crayfish that is closely related to the salt water lobster. Palate wise, marron is arguably a cross between prawn, lobster and Moreton Bay bugs, with a softer texture, lighter and sweeter aroma.
From the few bites I stole away from Ms AL’s dish, the triangular wedges of tuna were perfectly seared with a lovely fleshy meat, coupled with a light tangy dressing of salsa verde.
Duck: Blue Mountain duck breast, cherry purée, sweet potato, bitter chocolate jelly, native pepperberry sauce.
Again from the small bites I snuck in from Mr CK’s dish, the duck was beautifully cooked with a light pink flesh with sweet, peppery notes that matched well with our bottle of pinot noir.
2008 Pinot Noir Wallis Vineyard – Savoured on its own it is intensely smokey with a strong tannin backbone. Although across the board, it wasn’t well appreciated, I did find it matched quite well with the duck, but unfortunately was somewhat overwhelming on the palate with other dishes. It is a shame I have resorted to blaming the sommelier for the choice, given I did wine taste it earlier that day and was well aware of its overall robust nature – so really I should’ve insisted on something different.
Barramundi: Crispy skinned barramundi, basil & potato fondue, pepperade, blue swimmer crab beignet, Tractor verjus beurre blanc.
All the right boxes were ticked with the execution of the barramundi – perfectly crackled crispy skin that crumbles under the fork; unctuously moist flesh that was sweet and well seasoned. There were sweet-and-sour notes of the onion and capsicum pepperade to offset the silky richness of basil and potato fondue. I found the crab and asparagus beignet quite addictively crispy, light and decadent all-in-one, but it actually detracted from the star attraction on the plate.
Pork: Otway Ranges pork loin, apricots, sautéed potato, peas, pancetta, pork jus.
Rhubarb sorbet – beautiful light hues of rhubarb comes with a refreshing acidity and well balanced sweetness. A sure winner of a palate cleanser – and sadly dessert in our case given we were quite full already.
Rating: Yummy+1 – despite a contemporary inspiration and styling, the dishes slant towards old school heartiness and rustic elements which is wholly satisfying. Apart from the glitch with the wine choice this place made quite a firm and very positive impression for regional dining! =)
P.S. apologies for my less than comprehensive critique today, given I had lost at least half of my usual sense of smell, making my appreciation of the subtleties and nuances of each dish somewhat impaired.
[Photos courtesy of Chiu Kang]