THE drive to the Queenscliff ferry used to be a bleak affair but that has all changed thanks to the new $38 million marina, observation tower and eateries. About half of the shops are open but word has already spread about 360Q, the restaurant with the best views.
The restaurant (360 degrees of Queenscliff) has been aptly named; almost every table has a view of the luxury boats berthed outside.
Run by the Rathbone Wine Group, the owner of Mount Langi Ghiran and Yering Station, it has a cellar at the front where you can choose a wine and take it to the table. The former head chef at Yering Station, Colin Swalwell, is in charge of the kitchen.
The menu is divided into sections such as Share, Bite, Tasty and Hungry, so diners can choose a casual light meal or a traditional lunch. This is handy for our family of four and we do some swapping and tasting.
The standout dish is the kangaroo rump sandwich with red onion jam ($19.50). The kangaroo is tender and tasty and the jam adds a sweet note. I have ravioli of confit duck leg with bacon and sweet potato salad ($19/$25), which is satisfying, and a glass of Yering Station chardonnay ($10) goes down well with it. The children's fish and chips ($12.50) - grilled flathead on the day - is excellent.
For dessert, the baked gingerbread pudding ($13) is easily big enough for two.
Service is friendly and attentive. 360Q is a pleasant casual eatery rather than a serious gourmet destination. It has seating for 150, with plans to open an upstairs dining area. The outdoor deck would be lovely in warm weather.
To offset our large lunch, we climb the stairs to the viewing deck of the adjacent tower, leaving the children to glide up effortlessly in the lift. The view from the top is amazing; the marina and Queenscliff are laid out like toytown on one side, the city glistens in the distance and the Port Phillip Heads and the Portsea shore beckon. We climb down, drive on board the ferry and plan to return in summer.
Reviewed by Mary O'Brien, who was hosted by Tourism Victoria.
360Q, 2 Wharf Street, Queenscliff, 5257 4200. Open daily (September-June), 10am-5pm; Fri-Sat, dinner. To stay nearby: Vue Grand www.vuegrand.com.au; Athelstane House, www.athelstane.com.au; Carisbrook Cottage, www.carisbrookcottagequeenscliff.com.au.