Whether you are after a quick coffee or a fine dining experience, the Dandenongs in Victoria, Australia, have something to please you. These are the top places to stop and enjoy a meal.
Elevation @ Emerald
Bar, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Perched high is Elevation @ Emerald; the rolling hills of the Dandenong Ranges serve as a picturesque backdrop. The restaurant is spread across two levels and possesses floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over Emerald to create a venue that is reminiscent of a childhood tree house. The food does not disappoint, as Elevation @ Emerald has carefully crafted its menu to ensure that there is something for everyone. For total indulgence, make sure to try one of the wood-fire pizzas or head to the bar for one of the delicious cocktails.
The Independent has taken over Gembrook’s former hardware store and turned it into a vibrant restaurant. The transformed venue radiates a rustic feel with a modern twist through its industrial floors, airy ceilings, and exposed-timber paneling. But it is the food itself that has won over the hearts of the locals, with head chef and co-owner Mauro Callegar carefully putting together a menu that is inspired by his own Argentinian heritage. The menu is based around the idea of share dishes in various sizes, which sets The Independent apart from other restaurants. People travel from far and wide to try out the creative menu.
The first thing you notice about SkyHigh is the view: perched 600 meters above sea level, SkyHigh is one of the best lookouts in Victoria, with views stretching as far as the eye can see. These panoramic views provide a picturesque backdrop to the restaurant’s patio, to create one of the best dining experiences in Victoria. Not to be outdone by the setting, the menu consists of a delicious selection of Australian favorites and even has a weekly Sunday roast. Hot tip: while you’re here take the time to explore one of SkyHigh’s many gardens and bushwalks, or try your luck in the maze.
From the outside, the iconic Cuckoo Restaurant looks like something straight out of a fairytale, with frilly gables and ornate window shutters decorating the Bavarian chalet. The charm continues inside, with checkered tablecloths, cuckoo clocks, and staff in folk dress, creating a warm and cozy atmosphere. The Cuckoo is the perfect lunch destination, with generations of customers coming to witness the daily floor show and to try the international smorgasbord, particularly the famous German Goulash, Bratwurst kartofel, and sauerkraut.
Hidden just off the main street of Belgrave is La Collina Pizzeria, a cozy Italian restaurant. La Collina is famous for its pizzas, with more than different types that range from the traditional Margherita to La Collina’s own gourmet creations. The menu caters for those with food intolerances and provides delicious gluten-free options. La Collina also offers a delivery service, allowing you to treat your taste buds from the comfort of your own home.
Copperfields prides itself on providing a ‘hills experience’ in which guests can feel instantly at home. This sense of comfort is the product of a family-run business. The menu itself is impressive; the father-and-son team cater for all styles of dining, and specialize in seafood and free-range products. An added bonus is Copperfields’s commitment to fresh and ethically sourced produce, which has made the restaurant a local favorite.
Le Voltaire Bistro Francais’s atmosphere will instantly transport you to France. Everything from the decor to the menu is authentically French; the staff even speak the language fluently. The food only adds to the restaurant’s charm. The menu consists of French favorites (and matching wines, of course) including boeuf bourguignon, canard à l’orange, and escargots. For the complete experience, come along on a Monday night to enjoy the local talent. Allow them to transport you to France, while the hustle and bustle of everyday melts away.
Bensons in Belgrave is open from breakfast to dinner and prides itself on offering delicious food all day long. Bensons allows its customers to have the best of both worlds, as the venue emanates both intimacy and sophistication — the restaurant is the perfect meeting place for a quick coffee or a fine dining experience. The food does not disappoint, with a selection of delicious Australian cuisine making up the menu. The menu, while indulgent, also caters for vegetarians and those with food intolerances.
Nestled within the picturesque Cloudehill Gardens of Olinda, Seasons at Cloudehill is the perfect lunch destination. The restaurant possesses a terrace that overlooks the garden to create a beautiful space for the summer months, while the indoor dining area is perfect for cozying up in winter. The venue radiates comfort, which is mirrored in its food; a simple selection of breakfasts and lunches make up a delicious country-style menu. An added bonus is the restaurant’s commitment to sourcing fresh local produce, some of which comes from its very own garden. If you have some extra time the gardens are worth exploring for a small fee.