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“Sublime in Every Aspect”

Royal Mail Dining Room
Ranked #2 of 7 Restaurants in Dunkeld
Price range: $43 - $129
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Business meetings
Dining options: Breakfast, Late Night, Dinner, Lunch, Reservations
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.
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
89 reviews
67 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
“Sublime in Every Aspect”
Reviewed November 21, 2012

Whilst its reputation precedes it, the Royal Mail is not quite what we expected – but in a good way. We were expecting a more traditional looking pub-style building, nestled deep in Victoria’s west in Dunkeld, about 30 kms from Hamilton. Instead we find a more modern building, a little retro looking, with a curved façade, nestled among Australian native gardens.

Inside the décor is simple – minimalist with clean lines and simple elegant table settings. The use of expanses of glass not only makes the restaurant look bigger than it is, they are perfect for soaking in the glorious view of the Southern Grampians Ranges. There are three main seating areas: dining room, bistro or public bar. There’s also a courtyard for al fresco dining which would be lovely on a warm summer’s day. And let’s not forget the restrooms - simple with their ocean tones, hints of jasmine and delicious Aesop balms and hand creams.

As walk-ins we were worried we may not get a table but on this Friday lunch, the restaurant is sadly very quiet – great for us as we have a choice of tables and select one with the best views. We’re offered a choice of the bistro or a la carte dining, and we choose a la carte simply as we’ve not driven all this way for bistro food, no matter how good it may be. No, we’ve come to sample Dan Hunter’s award winning ‘nature-based’ cuisine. And sample we will!

Dan’s Spring menu features artichoke which is in season and there are some really interesting offerings that read like an encyclopaedia of ingredients. We ordered Vegetables From Our Kitchen Garden (E$22, M$30), Angus Short Rib Cooked Overnight, Charred Potato, Chestnut And Broccoli ($37), and the Milawa Organic Chicken, Cauliflower, Jerusalem Artichoke, Wild Rice And Bread Pudding ($36).

As expected the wine list is quite extensive and, whilst some may find it daunting to be presented with 94 pages, any wine lover will find it a delight to meander through their offering of over 3,000 bottles (which does make you wonder where they store it all). The wine list features the best of the New and Old Worlds, and a selection of Grand Cru’s to make you weep at prices to match. But with bottles starting at $40 there’s definitely something to suit every budget. We try the 1998 Riddoch Cabernet and it’s a refreshing change to see a wine of this age offered by the glass.

It’s a perfect prelude to our meal enjoying a glass of wine, the complimentary delicious Spiced Almonds, Marinated Olives and Home-Cooked Sourdough Bread and the views, and so it doesn’t seem long before our dishes arrive.

The ‘Vegetables From Our Kitchen Garden’ is an amazing visual feast, but that’s not to say the taste buds are forgotten. A crisp array of fresh-plucked vegetables have been individually lovingly prepared. They sit artistically arranged and caressed by a warm complex broth of beetroot origin. The amount of time and effort that has gone into this dish is quite extraordinary and it’s completely delicious.

The ‘Angus Short Rib Cooked Overnight, Charred Potato, Chestnut And Broccoli’ is impressive. Tender fall off the bone beef is enveloped in a rich sticky sauce making this quite a hearty meal but without being heavy. The accents of chestnut round out the flavours and the perfectly cooked broccoli is playfully arranged with florets and flowers.

The ‘Milawa Organic Chicken, Cauliflower, Jerusalem Artichoke, Wild Rice And Bread Pudding’ was also exceptional. The softness of the juicy, tender and very flavoursome chicken was perfectly complimented by the nutty wild rice and the bread pudding was not stodgy but rather quite light.

What’s interesting about Dan’s food is that it’s not futzed with – it’s not over complicated by inappropriate sauces, foams or emulsions and it doesn’t have any redundant additions. Every component of the dish is there for a reason, a synergistic masterpiece of vision, texture and flavour, and to take one part of it away would detract from the dish as a whole. The only other chef I have seen who is as technically skilled and can achieve this extreme balance is Mathew Macartney at Chateau Yering (and funnily enough Matt and Dan are both friends and rivals).

Like Tipperary, it’s a long way to go to the Royal Mail but it’s definitely worth the visit. From my experience it’s obvious to get the best of the Royal Mail and Dan’s exquisite delights you need to do an evening degustation which promises you a culinary journey of extraordinary heights. And after this visit it’s now definitely high on my agenda!

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank SigriddeC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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427 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Indonesian first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Penshurst, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Grampians Getaway”
Reviewed November 16, 2012

Having recently moved into the area I have now eating in the Bistro of the Royal Mail Hotel on several occasions, both alone and with friends. On each occasion the service has been friendly if not sometimes a bit aloof, the food fantastic and the wine list has something for everyone, from reasonably priced to the exorbitant! The Restaurant was recently awarded Three Hats so this rates it as one of the best Country Restaurants in Australia. The Chef, Dan Hunter, is passionate about fresh and local products and even grows his own vegetables and herbs for the Restaurant. A degustation menu is offered on a Saturday night, which I have not done, and is around AU$200 per head plus wines. All in all a great experience in a relaxed and stunning natural environment at the foot of Mt. Sturgeon with views of the Grampians ranges.
Whilst in the area, a fifteen minute drive away is the little Village of Penshurst with many Historic buildings, a Hotel that serves really good food and a soon to open, 25 seat retro cafe. Penshurst also has beautiful small Botanic Gardens and wetlands which are worth a walk around after eating all day!! I have no business interest in The Royal Mail, but I do live in Penshurst! Enjoy.

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank TAG348
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Central Victoria
Level 6 Contributor
127 reviews
74 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
“Bistro offers good value”
Reviewed November 5, 2012

We enjoyed a very nice meal in the bistro on a Friday night.
We had tried to book on the day prior, to be told it was booked out, but decided to call in anyway, as we were passing and there was a couple of free tables.
Interesting flavours, and nicely cooked meats.
Fast service.

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank Sandals246
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bendigo, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
72 reviews
40 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“The Royal Mail for Food & Views”
Reviewed October 24, 2012

The Royal Mail is our favourite restaurant and it is well worthy of its 3 hats. Food is interesting, very well prepared, local and fresh and with a very extensive wine list to complement it. Staff are knowledgeable, efficient, pleasant and helpful. A wonderful view of the mountains from the windows in the Bistro section.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Crawford M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
40 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Dinner at the Royal Mail Restaurant”
Reviewed October 18, 2012

Dinner was I think either 5 or 7 courses and EVERYONE at the table had to have to same number. You could choose Vegetarian or the other. We chose 5 course non vegetarian.
The Wine List was the size of a big town's telephone directory with what seems like only French wines: we thought that a little pretentious.

We were there about a month ago and I cannot now tell you what I ate. I think that best describes what I thought of the restaurant! And it was not cheap.

Service was Very good.

Visited September 2012
Thank franschhoek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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