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“No tricks, this is dining at its best” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Royal Mail Dining Room

Royal Mail Dining Room
Ranked #3 of 7 Restaurants in Dunkeld
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $42 - $126
Cuisines: Australian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Romantic, Special occasions, Local cuisine, Business meetings
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast, Full Bar, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Description: The Royal Mail Hotel Dining Room has been awarded '2 hats' by the Age Good Food Guide 2015 & 2016. The Dining Room serves innovative, seasonally driven menu that draws from the extensive organic kitchen garden - reputed as the largest and most productive restaurant kitchen garden in Australia. The Dining Room wine list has been awarded 'Best Hotel Wine List, worldwide, by Fine Wine UK. The cellar houses over 26,000 bottles and wines can be served matched to each course of the five or eight course chefs tasting menus.
victoria, australia
Level Contributor
39 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“No tricks, this is dining at its best”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 29, 2011

This was our second visit in 12 months but this time we ramped it up and dined in the restaurant and took the plunge on the degustation menu. We have resisted these types of menu's over the years because quite frankly we cannot see the point - it is akin to speed-dating, however what tempted us was past performance in the bistro and if the degustation was up to that level it would therefore be a safe introduction.

At a cost of of $160 pp it is not an inexpensive foray. If you want to add the selected wine list (9) it is another $130 pp. We let the wine option pass and took advice from the staff and ended up with some rather stunning wines as a result.

If the point of this style of dining is to demonstrate the skills of the chef then this was achieved, effortlessly. If the point is to just skite then this was also achieved admirably. There was just nothing to fault and this was over 10 courses! The highlights were the oysters and the eel & marrowbone combination scored "10" in subtlety, balance and innovation - while the other 8 dishes were a mere "9.9" The discount has to be for the murky-flavoured, out of left field, cold tea. At the end I still cannot see the point of the degustation menu, it is a high wire risk for all involved unless, like the Royal Mail, you have a kitchen, a sommelier and dining staff who are at their peak - then it works and work brilliantly!

On top of all this is the great accomodation (ask for the mountain-view rooms), the location and the relaxed breakfast next morning.

This is dining at its best.

  • Visited July 2011
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank robinvic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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406 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    215
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    20
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Indonesian first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Glenelg, Australia
Level Contributor
15 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Great Setting, good service, but el blando food.”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 21, 2011

Dropped in at short notice on the way through from Melbourne. We were told the restaurant was fully booked, so were offered a table in the bistro which were fine with. Although when we left, the restaurant area was still only half-full. The service was fast and friendly with some very nice olives and roasted/marinated almonds served up gratis.

There was a Kingfish tuna and truffle entree special offered which my wife decided to try as a main. I had the Angus sirloin. It's here where it goes a bit pear-shaped. I know truffles are expensive but the $39 dish was so small and the portions so minimalist I though the waiter had made a mistake. The tuna itself was a tiny, tiny fillet, barely a couple of mouthfuls. The $42 Cape Grim Angus Sirloin was very ordinary; both bland and lacking in flavour. I have so many better steaks in lesser venues; it was quite dispiriting. The side of garden leaves was exactly that, a very small bowl of plain green leaves.

The prices are right up there with the best international restaurants I've been too but the food is not; at least in the bistro. Beyond the ambience of the restaurant, I can't see what some of the reviewers here are raving about when it comes to the food.

  • Visited July 2011
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank kazaboo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
62 reviews
55 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Great Food, Fantastic Location, Good service - Real shame about the assistant sommelier”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 18, 2011

The title says it all really. I really wanted to write a fantastic feedback for the Royal Mail, not just as a restaurant but as a hotel too but there was one thing that really did spoil it for me and that was the assistant sommelier (or whoever decided to attend to us that evening). Unfortunately I couldn't quite catch his name...

Anyways... So I flew from London to Melbourne to join my partner as she had taken indefinite leave due to her mum's terminal illness. I thought it would be really nice to be able to take her away for one night so she could relax and the Royal Mail was what I chose. We had some problems initially at Essendon airport as the airline who was carrying us there (Sharp Airline) had engine problems in Hamilton and could not get back to Melbourne until late evening. We weren't too worried as I guess these things happen! The staff on the phone at Royal Mail were amazing in that they sorted out everything for us to ensure we had a great time. They rearranged our flights for the next day, ensured we had a table at the restaurant the following evening and even threw in an extra night so we didn't have to leave at 7am the following morning.

We arrived at a lovely hotel and the view from our room was spectacular - first line of rooms with an unobstructed view on Mt Sturgeon. We even had a Wallaby 5 metres from our balcony when we entered our room and we could see a couple of eagles flying around the mountain. The room was great and the bed very comfortable. Aesop products for the bathroom always is a welcome. The area was beautiful and we enjoyed our tranquil walks on the various paths they had available - unfortunately two of them were closed due to mudslides but that wasn't any issue for us - it was still perfect.

So here comes the big bit of our journey... the meal... I had asked prior to the meal at the reception desk and to the Maitre D when we entered whether I could take photographs of the meal - I promised not to use any flash and would keep it discrete. None of the staff had any issues and said they were happy for me to take as many pictures as I wanted to. The food throughout the evening was of a good standard and quality - what amazed me most was how much Dan was able to source locally his ingredients. The jerusalem artichoke and pork sandwich amuse bouches were a very good introduction to the meal as I always find the amuse bouche sets the tone for the evening. The following courses did not disappoint where some dishes such as the lamb were outstanding whilst others were good.

Now here's the bit that really irritated me for the evening. The young sommelier (NOT the head sommelier Jeremy Shiell as I believe he was on holidays in Europe at that time) was the most condescending and arrogant sommelier I've ever met. His body language said it all from the start where he refused to really acknowledge or make eye contact with the customer. Furthermore, he had the cheek of coming up to me saying "Enjoying the food now or taking pleasure from the photo's later - what is your philosophy? I'll give you some time and come back to you on that". Honestly, what does it matter to him if I wanted to take a photo of my meal? I wasn't making a scene, I didn't use flash photography and I certainly kept my camera discrete by storing it below the table between the courses. He continued throughout the evening with his tongue and cheek and attempted to make us feel very small. His arrogance was very difficult to explain - he claimed to have worked in some "fine" establishments he hoped we didn't know - sorry mate, Bentleys in Mayfair and Pont de la Tour in Tower Bridge are not what I call anything near a fine dining experience - just overrated restaurants and not value for money. I'd probably say he needs a reality check. But don't get me wrong, the wine in general was good and he did a good job pairing it (or perhaps they were a set of wine already paired by Jeremy himself?). He certainly didn't like it when he told us his best wine of the evening was a Best's Western Wine - our close friend's family own it so we told him we knew the wine very well - at which he said to not waste his time as we should have told him before he started explaining and walked off. Hmmm burst your bubble Mr Assistant Sommelier? That's not the attitude you get in fine dining establishments anywhere!

So there you go... I said I really wanted to write a good review. Dan's cuisine resembles Mugaritz in some ways (no surprise he worked there before) and we surely did think it was worth the trip to Dunkeld for the meal. The hotel was great and the two ladies who helped us with the plane issue and rebooking (who's names escape me now) were just outstanding - a real shame about the arrogant young sommelier. I'd love to come back one day... when he's gone perhaps.

  • Visited May 2011
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Yomura
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
fremantle
2 reviews
“Bland food, too expensive.”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 10, 2011

Good things: nice building, view of the pretty garden, impressive winelist, service was okay. Bad things: food was overrated, bland and not worth the prizetag. I don't mind paying for good food, but this was just average. Maybe the chef forgot the herbs and spices.

  • Visited July 2011
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank duiken21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne
Level Contributor
208 reviews
109 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 121 helpful votes
“Amazing restaurant in a very small country town”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 26, 2011

The Royal Mail has an international reputation, and could hold its own if transplanted into the heart of Paris, London or Melbourne. It is in Dunkeld, a Victorian country town of 400 people. It is close to the Grampians National Park, one of the nicest parts of Victoria to visit, and is surrounded by wine areas. We had dinner at the bistro, after an one hour drive from Halls Gap the 'long way' (the main road was cut by landslides). The service and food is impeccable, and you have to pinch yourself sometimes to realise that such a great restaurant is located in such an out of the way area. Highly recommended and well worth travelling even a couple of hours to have a meal at if you are anywhere near it.

  • Visited June 2011
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank BoffinChemist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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