I’ve been dining at Mount RAEL (Relax And Enjoy Life) since a friend introduced me to the stunning verandah views of the Yarra Valley back in the early 2000’s. Since then I’ve had many good, and even great meals, as well as a fantastic wedding anniversary stay at their accommodation a few years ago.
So it was with some excitement we decided to lunch again at this venue - this time with different owners and Executive Chef John Knoll who promised we’d be “seduced by the bounty of local produce” and that the menu “respect[s] its integrity with a clean approach”.
I’d forgotten how incredibly steep the driveway to get up to the restaurant was – it’s gotten worse in recent years and would benefit from sealing the lower steeper section and grading the top section – only then would we feel like we don’t need a 4 wheel drive to make it up the hill. The gardens are looking particularly lovely and the additional of sculptures are a visually pleasing touch.
The layout of the restaurant has not changed – crisp white table cloths and napkins donned the array of indoor and outdoor tables, and water, wine glasses and cutlery all sparking in the sunlight. All of this just the introduction to that view – one of the best in the valley and the main reason you come here. And after a bout of early morning rain we were delighted that the view of the valley presented us with some low cloud surrounding the hills which made for a sensational moving vista as it lifted over the course of our meal.
Unfortunately our ordering was seriously delayed by another diner who insisted on nabbing the only wait staff’s attention for a full 20 minutes as she painstakingly went through almost every single item on the menu, dissecting the ingredients and determining a) what they were and b) whether chef could amend them. Don’t get me wrong, accommodating dietary requirements is fine, but this was taken to the nth degree and seemed somewhat unreasonable. After all questions were answered (including what’s Venison) and the order placed (the pasta must be true al dente – firm to the tooth – and if chef couldn’t cook it properly she didn’t want it) it was finally our turn. It would have been more helpful if the wait staff had asked another staff member to come and assist rather than leave us dangling and hungry. I know I’ve gone on a bit long about it here but seriously people, consider others when you dine (and while I’m at it turn your mobiles onto vibe – another of my pet hates).
It was also a disappointment that the menu on display at Long Gully Estate winery was not the one on offer when we arrived. However the new Summer menu had some promising starters – we decided to share the Juniper berry spiced Yarra Valley venison Carpaccio, raspberry vinegar, olive oil and sour dough soppets but our first taste revealed the dish was so over salted we had no choice but to send it back. The unsalted replacement dish was absolutely delightful. The raspberry vinegar cut perfectly through the rich wafer thin slices of venison. And the texture of the crispy sour dough crumbs was a stark and pleasing contrast to the soft and luscious meat. A perfect dish without the salt. $18.50
For main I ordered the Slow poached pork fillet in Punt Road apple cider, slow roasted pear, frisbe, chutney and crackling. On ordering I was advised that the fillet had been replaced by a baked loin which I was told would be “more fatty”, this also should have meant it was moister and would have more flavour. Unfortunately was incredibly dry, very over cooked and just plain tough to get through. The slow baked pear and chutney were too similar and I think the dish would have benefited from removing one of them. Poorly executed. $37.
My husband ordered the Chargrilled Little Cattle Creek scotch fillet, ricotta, garlic butter, rocket and radish. It was ordered medium well but came well done. My husband thought the dish would have been better without the ricotta, I thought it added and extra element. The flavour of the meat was good, but would have benefited from being cooked to order. The Dijon we asked to accompany the steak was not received, and after a second request it arrived only once the steak had gone cold. Disappointing. $37.50
Unfortunately our meal was not turning out to be the culinary adventure we had hoped and we really didn’t feel like we could push our luck with dessert, so we opted to pay the bill and leave at that point.
From a service perspective Restaurant 3777 was more efficient and conservative (think snooty) and less friendly than it has been in recent years. The complimentary bread was stale, very unappealing and just plain disappointing after the flourish of ceremony with which the olive oil and balsamic were dispensed.
Fortunately some constructive feedback to front of house yielded a 20% discount on our bill (the table next to us had also complained about the ‘tough’ pork and ‘overcooked’ steak). Mount Rael and John Knoll and team are capable of really great things if only they can get it together.
My Rating: 65/100 (despite 18/20 for ambience)
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.