Dinner Review : Kelly's Bar And Kitchen, Olinda
Perched atop the Dandenongs, an hour East of Melbourne, Kelly's Bar And Kitchen is made for winter - all warmth and red wine. What the bar lacks in phone reception, it makes up for in general ambience. There's something pretty damn pleasant about sitting next to a crackling open fire in a heritage-listed log cabin that was built a Century before your birth.
The menu is thick with some history, food options and a drink menu almost as long as the drive it takes to get there. Sensible and sustainable, Kelly's work with their neighbours and use seasonal vegetables and locally-sourced produce where possible, including coffee, wine, cider, beer, meats, fruit and vegetables. The menu is comprised of hearty, country-style meals with a gourmet slant, and as such the food is expensive and more restaurant-style than your typical pub meal (though there is still the option of a burger or parma with all the frills included). Sadly for the vegetarians, while there are a few gluten-free meals on offer, only one main is sans-meat (though there's options to fill up on sides and starters).
We started with the appetising tasting plate including blue cheese wrapped in prosciutto and lightly fried, slow-roasted roma tomatoes with bocconcini, veggie fritattas and veggie samosas - slightly mismatched but delightfully varied.
We sadly skipped the intriguing duck red curry special with lychees and cherry tomatoes and the marinated kangaroo fillet with juniper berry jus and instead ate the free-range chicken wrapped with prosciutto and stuffed with goats cheese, pine nuts and mushrooms served on a bed of mash and roasted vegetables. The chicken was a tiny bit dry but the nutty, almost earthy stuffing in the middle with the salty prosciutto wrap was a beautiful flavour complement. Fingers crossed that this meal will secure a regular spot on the upcoming winter menu.
A dainty, rich and delicious chocolate pot and espresso cake almost brought a tear to our eyes. This is a seriously special dessert that demands that you share it, talk about it and treat it with the same warmth it provides you.
You know sometimes when food is so good, you feel like you've taken a mini vacation? This was that, except we actually sort of had. If you ever feel inspired by Fleet Foxes to skip out from the city and drive the hour to Olinda (and now is the perfect seasonal time for a weekend of rugged up wilderness or day trip of antiquing) it's absolutely worth stopping in to this rustic roadhouse.
Kelly's Bar And Kitchen is located at 1510 Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Olinda. Open seven nights from 5pm & weekends from 11am 'til late.