February 27, 2023
11 mins Read
A trip along the Great Ocean Road is a feast for the senses. There’s the smell of the eucalyptus trees, the sound of the roaring ocean and some incredible food to tantalise your taste buds. From breakfast burgers at The Bottle of Milk in Lorne to a degustation dinner at one of the country’s finest restaurants (Brae in Birregurra), there’s something here to suit every palette. These are our top picks.
Set in the beautiful hamlet of Wye River, The General is a beautiful dining spot, right by the sea. They do an all day brunch menu that features excellent coffee and fresh pastries, bloody marys, burgers, bang up full breakfasts, and fresh salads. Kitchen hours are 8am – 2.30pm (it’s open until 4). This is a great spot if you’re travelling through in the cooler months, as they have a combustion heater to keep things toasty. There’s also a great play area for little ones.
Address: 35 Great Ocean Road, Wye River, Victoria
Enjoy expansive ocean views from the Lorne Hotel while you dine on tapas plates from MoVida – Chef Frank Camorra’s restaurant that originally made a name for itself in Melbourne. Using the best of the local south-west Victorian produce available, the menu draws inspiration from Spanish flavours, techniques and tradition. The Alimentaria Deli also offers cheese, preserved seafood, pickles, wine, and tapas to-go, for those who want to take a little MoVida home with them.
Address: 176 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne, Victoria
For those who have visited the nearby Twelve Apostles, a meal at Forage on the Foreshore can be the perfect bookend to an excellent day’s sightseeing. The food on the menu is mostly grown, produced or foraged locally, and is seasonal. Breakfast options include baked free-range eggs with garden greens, cream, Apostle Whey camembert cheese and toasted Zeally Bay sourdough; and spelt hotcakes with preserved rhubarb, quark cheese, shaved coconut and maple syrup. Until 4pm you can also enjoy dishes such as local cheese plates, braised calamari, house made gnocchi and fresh grilled fish.
Address: 32 Cairns St, Port Campbell, Victoria
Anglesea surfers would do well to follow the lead of Chef Matt Germanchis, one half of the mastermind behind the now-closed Captain Moonlite – and it’s offshoot, Fish by Moonlite, a fish-and-chip and seafood retail shop along the Great Ocean Road run by Germanchis and his partner Gemma Gange.
Germanchis was inspired by his time cooking in Skiathos, Greece, where the evening menu would come from what fishermen bring to port that day, now Fish by Moonlite patrons not only gain access to the freshest seafood delivered daily but also get advice from seasoned chefs about how to cook your produce. A visit won’t be complete without a helping of their top-notch fish and chips.
In related news, Germanchis has announced that he will be taking on the role of executive chef at The Lorne Hotel for Sydney hospitality giant Merivale, who acquired the historic Great Ocean Road establishment in early 2021. Watch this space!
Address: 87-89 Great Ocean Road, Anglesea, Victoria
Set high in the Otways above the Great Ocean Road, Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant has been an iconic eatery since opening in 1979. Chris’s passion for the food of southern Europe combined with the freshest and purest produce available means people come back time and time again for lunch or dinner with a spectacular view. Fresh seafood is a speciality.
Address: 280 Skenes Creek Rd, Apollo Bay, Victoria
Located in the historic coastal town of Port Fairy is Conlan’s Wine Store, a restaurant that offers relaxed dining options perfect for a night of unwinding. Try their four-course sharing style menu, or order from their wide selection of a la carte dishes, both of which can be paired with the region’s finest wine. You can also bring home a bottle along with some homely goods from their retail store.
Address: 34 Bank Street, Port Fairy, Victoria, 3284
If it’s a hearty breakfast you’re after, it’s hard to go past The Bottle of Milk. The coconut porridge with oats cooked in pear juice and coconut milk is a tropical start to the day, while the truffled mushrooms and corn and zucchini fritters are also a standout. Later in the day you’ll find a mouth-watering array of burgers on offer, including some excellent vegetarian options.
Address: 52 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne, Victoria
To be fair this isn’t technically on the Great Ocean Road. You have to head inland to hit Birregurra to indulge in a lunch or dinner at Brae. But it’s consistently been named one of the best restaurants in the country by the Good Food Guide, and when you’re this close to perfection it would be a shame not to take the slight detour. Chef Dan Hunter’s ever-changing menu incorporates produce from Brae’s organic farm, the surrounding land and local, ethical, sustainable producers. It will be one of the best meals you ever have.
Address: 4285 Cape Otway Rd, Birregurra, Victoria
For a fun night out with friends it’s hard to go past Ipsos. Here you’ll find a modern spin on Greek cooking, with lots of salads, dips and grilled meats to keep you satisfied. There’s also a superb cocktail list.
Address: 48 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne, Victoria
Locals along the Great Ocean Road swear by the Apollo Bay Bakery. They have a great range of fresh sandwiches, rolls and cakes and all their pies, pasties and sausage rolls are hand-made on site (they have become well known as the home of the scallop pie). Gluten-free pies and vegan pasties are also available. It’s open seven days a week from 6am – 4pm.
Address: 125 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay, Victoria
This is, apparently, Victoria’s oldest inn and it’s certainly dripping with old world charm. Open for dinner Thursday to Monday, the daily kitchen menu at the Merrijig Inn highlights local producers and farmers. Depending on what’s good and fresh that day you might find Milawa free range duck, Western District lamb, and ox-tail ragout with globe artichokes or pan-fried fillet of Portland blue-eye.
Address: 1 Campbell Street, Port Fairy, Victoria
This cool climate winery and cellar door is just a five-minute drive from Bells Beach. Family owned and run, it’s no novelty venture built solely to lure in tourists; after all, the hallowed Halliday Wine Companion has named Bellbrae Estate an “excellent” winery capable of producing elegant wines. Duck in for a tasting or linger for longer at the weekend with a woodfired pizza and tasting flight.
Address: 520 Great Ocean Rd, Bellbrae, Victoria
Hidden in plain sight in the quaint hamlet of Aireys Inlet, this nook of a gin garden is a delightful spot to pass some time. Nurse a small-batch navy-strength gin negroni laced with housemade bitter orange syrup while sitting on the sun-dappled deck amid furniture doused in a Palm Springs colour palette. When hunger strikes you don’t have to venture far; simply slink next door to the adjoining Gin Kitchen, which offers a five-course banquet menu inspired by Southeast Asian cuisine.
Want more? Visit the Apollo Bay Distillery, which runs gin blending masterclasses.
Address: 32 Great Ocean Rd, Aireys Inlet, Victoria
Open from your morning cold drip coffee, brewed over 12 hours, through to your evening gin – distilled with botanicals plucked from the crater of a dormant local volcano, no less – Noodledoof is no one-trick pony. Beyond beverages, this brewery and distillery also serves up an indulgent menu of burgers, loaded fries and chicken wings come lunch and dinner, while breakfast is a slightly more salubrious affair, running the gamut from almond and chia pudding to fruit toast and granola with coconut yoghurt.
Address: 128 Commercial Rd, Koroit, Victoria
A coastal restaurant with plenty of rustic charm, Apollo Bay Fishermen’s Co-op is a mecca for seafood lovers. Situated just a couple of metres from the salty surf, it dishes up a bounty of impossibly fresh fish and crustaceans. So fabled is the southern rock lobster that’s hauled from the depths of this bay that the seaside town and its catch took centre stage on a season 13 episode of MasterChef. Pull up a pew at one of the co-op’s picnic tables, devour a fisherman’s basket and watch on as sailboats bob around in the water before you.
Address: 2 Breakwater Rd, Apollo Bay, Victoria
Among the region’s most show-stopping offerings, Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel is a non-negotiable for fervent foodies. This hatted restaurant has an extensive kitchen garden, said to be among the biggest in Australia, which furnishes the kitchen’s fridge and pantry with all manner of fruits, veggies and herbs. Moreover, the hotel even raises its own beef and lamb. But food is not the sole focal point here: the restaurant’s award-winning cellar is home to an encyclopaedic collection of wine (some 25,000 bottles, to be precise).
For those who fancy a more casual a la carte meal, try hotel offshoot Parker Street Project.
Address: 98 Parker St, Dunkeld, Victoria
In the thick of the Otways hinterland, among the verdant pastoral landscapes, lies a little pocket awash with artisanal food and drink producers. From a natural ice creamery founded by a third-generation dairy farmer, to a single malt whisky distillery run by a cattle farmer in a railway shed that dates back to the 1800s, and a ‘grass to glass’ single-site organic dairy and cheesery, the tiny town of Timboon (pop. 1,202) punches well above its weight.
Stop in at Schulz Organic Creamery & Cafe for a spot of morning tea: we’re talking chocolate babka, a smattering of bagels, and scones with local jam and homemade cream. Then pop into Timboon Fine Ice Cream for a scoop of apple pie ice cream or maybe even one of their Sundae School classes. Finally, drop by Timboon Railway Shed Distillery for a dram of whisky alongside farmer and head distiller Josh’s slow-cooked grass-fed black Angus beef.
Addresses in order: 1A Barrett St, Timboon, Victoria; 1 Bailey St, Timboon, Victoria; 3 Ford and Fells Rd, Timboon, Victoria
Updates written by Chloe Cann
Read our ultimate travel guide to the Great Ocean Road for more on what to do and where to stay.
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