Signal Station Brasserie

Licensed $$-$$$
700 Nelson Road, Mt Nelson
03) 6223 3407
Open: Open weekdays 10.00am to 4.00pm plus dinner on Fridays; Weekends 9.00am to 5.00pm.

Scott Allen, formerly of the Botanical Gardens Café, took over and upgraded the Signal Station two years ago. He’s also brought on board as head chef, David Netherly, who did his apprenticeship under Peter Doyle at Quay in Sydney – widely acclaimed as the country’s top restaurant – before moving to a sous chef position at Neil Perry’s equally famous Rockpool in The Rocks. And chefs don’t get a much better start than that.

So our expectations were high as we arrived and passed people flopping into the beans bags on the lawns after their climb up the hill and an American sitting at a table outside tucking into a pair of the largest scones we had ever seen in our lives. “Fantastic” he said – of the views or his scones and jam we weren’t sure.

Inside, the tables are closely spaced along full-length windows offering the best of the quite wonderful, panoramic views which alone make a visit worthwhile.

The menu is unusual in offering only one entrée in the form of a trio of dips and pate for two, followed by a long list of mains and an even longer dessert selection. But, thinking about it later, it probably fits their pattern of trade – dips and pate for the walkers and sightseers, likewise the desserts for the morning and afternoon coffee and cake trade and the mains for those, like us, in for a more substantial lunch.

During an exhaustive explanation of the menu extolling their use of local products and the chef’s experience, Allen also mentioned that it was only the second day of their new winter menu. So, by the time you read this, they might both have refined their contribution to the meal – Allen his recitation and the chef, the quality and presentation of the two dishes we had.

A braised venison shank was nicely cooked but lacked flavour and came with too little of an indifferent sauce to moisten or compensate. The pastry of a duck pithivier was also good but the filling and accompanying “mushroom jus” were both similarly lacking seasoning and flavour.

On the other hand, the braised beef cheek I saw and tasted later was a much more complete and better-finished dish, beautifully presented, sauced and flavoured. So perhaps the shortcomings in ours were simply the sort of teething problems often experienced in kitchens when getting up a new menu.

I hope so, for the service was attentive, the wine list OK, sides of green beans and roasted potatoes were perfectly cooked and mountainous and nothing detracts from those views. On offer shortly is gluwein and Xmas-in-July menus each Friday and Saturday through next month with a generous part of the takings donated to charity. Book early!

Dips etc for two $18.50; mains $32.00 to $37.00; sides $8.50; cakes and desserts $8.50/$10.50; NB: 10% surcharge on weekends

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