IT'S funny how much better food and wine taste when the creative spirit is also nourished. Qdos Arts, nestled amid soaring gums two kilometres behind the frenetic Lorne beach scene, offers a serene setting where you can enjoy fresh food, browse the art gallery, pottery studio and shop and wander among sculptures around the lily pond.
Dressed in black except for red shoelaces and with a grey ponytail and elfin smile, potter Graeme Wilkie looks a little like Neil Young as he welcomes us. Twelve years ago, Wilkie created a large gallery space on his 1.2-hectare retreat, which already housed his studio and kiln. A cafe was built and now Qdos Arts serves as Lorne's premier arts destination and a fine place for a casual Sunday lunch.
The gallery and cafe are in an airy building with a soaring bird's-wing roof.
About eight mix-and-match menu items are changed regularly. I enjoy delicious homemade salmon gravlax on seeded sourdough with capers, slivered red onions and cos lettuce drizzled with horseradish cream and garnished with fresh dill ($20).
My husband heartily approves of the thick crab bisque ($10) served in a hand-turned, smoky pink bowl. Thick slices of garlic Turkish bread are served on a wooden platter. He also orders a warm roast-vegie salad piled with zucchini, pumpkin, eggplant, capsicum, fresh herbs and Bulgarian fetta ($16).
About 30 Victorian wines are offered. We choose Paringa Estate Pinot Gris ($9 a glass). For dessert, I can't resist the moist orange and macadamia nut cake with blueberry coulis and whipped cream ($7).
If you want to stay, there are also four Japanese-inspired Qdos tree houses with queen-size beds, en suite bathrooms and decks overlooking the sculpture gardens.
Reviewed by Susan Gough Henly, who was hosted by Tourism Victoria.
Qdos, 35 Allenvale Road, Lorne, phone 5289 1989, see www.qdosarts.com. Open Friday-Monday, 9am-5pm.