Gladioli, Inverleigh

Despite its proximity to Geelong, Inverleigh places you well and truly “in the sticks”. Inverleigh is a regional town in Victoria, about 30 minutes from the hub of Geelong (or G-Town, as I call it) and a good hour at least from Melbourne proper. Driving to Inverleigh on a sunny winter Sunday started me questioning why must I plan my weekend visits to Victoria with a side of military precision? It’s the kind of day that you wish you could linger all afternoon. The countryside is whimsical and perfect to spend the afternoon meandering back, after a long, long lunch.

Gladioli of Inverleigh, resides in a charming cottage on the main thoroughfare to somewhere else. The restaurant  is the undertaking of Chef Matt Dempsey.  A talented gastronome, Chef’s time at The Fat Duck and the influence of molecular gastronomy (or modernist cuisine) wizardry are evident only in the intense flavours, such as the lemon pearls, served with the cured trout; olive oil powder, accompanying the heirloom carrot dish and the bursts of tangy green apple in the scone dessert. Happily, Chef maintains his own style, not overcomplicating the dishes with whizz bang science. For those in the know, it’s subtle. For those that don’t, it’s a novelty. Presentation is slick and still takes on a classical form.

Small morsels of bread accompanied with house churned butter fronted our table. A fresh bread & butter fan, I would have liked to have been offered more of both throughout the meal. I was a little dubious about the idea of “cake” with my first course,  the heirloom carrots with carrot cake was novel and surprisingly good. I found the cured trout probably a little too cold to appreciate the fish and the accompanying  lemon pearls were tasty, but not enough intensity in the explosion of flavour. Pork belly is an absolute favourite of mine and  I was tickled to see it come out. On this occasion, it was a little tough. The accompaniments were terrific. The highlight for me was the apple scone. Served in a Mason Jar, the scone was submerged in dairy goodness and with each spoonful, bursts of incredible green apple gels tantalised my taste buds.

Gladioli exemplifies food, well done. Precisely cooked and constructed with care. The staff are polite, efficient and enthusiastic. They were extremely accommodating with my schedule, knowing I had a hard finish time. The aesthetics are lovely. The grounds at the back of the cottage would really come to life in the spring and summer and I can just picture a merry crew, scattered across the lawn with mint julep in hand, lots of chatter and laughter amid perhaps a game croquet or quoits. The restaurant’s namesake, Gladioli, are present in vases, in art adorning the walls and are symbolic of regional life – bright, hardy and proud. It’s absolutely worth a visit and worthy of the accolades.

Where?
14 High Street,
Inverleigh, Victoria, 3321
 
 Gladioli on Urbanspoon

Did you know?

    • Chef Matthew Dempsey won the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence  “National Young Chef of the Year Award” in 2009.
    • According to Wikipedia, Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate, explain and make practical use of the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur while cooking, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general.
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