Lorne food fans will be high-fiving each other with the news that Matt Dempsey of Gladioli and Tulip has signed a two-year lease at Lorne Bowls Club kitchen, now called Seastar Restaurant. But those expecting the meticulous dégustation menus or funky shared plates of his other restaurants may be in for a shock.
"It was never going to be flash," Dempsey says. "There are big shared tables. I'd call it homely. It's nothing like Gladioli or Tulip... it's a bowls club. You queue up to order your meal at the counter, buy yourself a beer and sit down."
But one man's homely is another man's slow-cooked lamb shoulder with roast carrot, raisin, mint and almond salad. Or gnocchi with pear and walnut. Or rhubarb and apple crumble.
"It's the sort of home-cooked food that I'd want to eat with my family if I was on holiday in Lorne," Dempsey says.
The kitchen will open for lunch and dinner daily in summer, but is now open Friday to Sunday, evenings only. Dempsey hopes to build a new west-facing deck at the club, doubling the dining capacity to 120.
Locals are raving about another new eatery as well. The Swing Bridge Café & Boathouse changed hands a few months ago and Argentine owner-chef Jorge Guerrero is already attracting a cult following for his Friday lunch, a rotation of barbecued ribs, brisket, pork belly and chicken served with crusty rolls, salad and traditional chimichurri or salsa criolla.
The Swing Bridge also does an organic breakfast teamed with St Ali coffee that makes early-rising worthwhile.
It looks as though Lorne is in for a tasty summer.
Lorne Bowls Club, 35 Mountjoy Pde, Lorne, Vic, (03) 5289 1377.
Swing Bridge Café & Boathouse, 30 Great Ocean Rd, Lorne, Vic, 0423 814 770.