Gladioli in Inverleigh is located on a quiet street (which also happens to be the main street), in a quiet town where the usual small town pointers are present. The post office, the general store, the service station make High Street look very much like any other small town street. There is, however something very different about High Street Inverleigh, and that’s what’s hidden behind the unassuming weatherboard house at number 14.
Owner and head chef Matt Dempsey uses local, seasonal ingredients combined with fine dining techniques to give local diners, and those who are willing to make the trek 20 minutes south of Geelong, a dining experience that would not be out of place in Melbourne’s CBD, but for the laid back, country style vibe and cute backyard area. Gladioli is more family friendly that this sort of restaurant usually is, and there were plenty of families eating together on the Sunday lunch that my wife and I visited
On Wednesday and Thursday evenings and on Thursday and Friday at lunch an a la carte menu is available and during other times, it’s a choice between a 5 or 8 course tasting menu at $80 and $110 respectively. My wife and I went for the 8 course tasting menu.
Parmesan Crisps, Watermelon With Beetroot Gel & Horseradish Cream, White Bean Puree & House Made Grissini
To start with was a sharing board with a selection of bits and pieces to try. My favourite was the watermelon, with its interesting clash of textures and flavours.
Prawn, Avocado, Green Chilli & Sesame Seed
The start of the meal proper was a good one, with some great textures and flavours.
Heirloom Carrots With Savoury Carrot Cake and Olive Oil Powder
This was our least favourite dish of the night. The carrots were delicious, however the olive oil powder didn’t seem to do anything to enhance the dish and the savoury carrot cake didn’t quite work.
Octopus, Cuttlefish & Fennel
This dish was very nice, with the fennel flavour really working with the freshness of the seafood.
Smoked Eel, Potato, Yolk & Sage
This smoked eel consume was very tasty, as the consume was poured into our bowls at the table, everything that was going on with the dish was explained to us by the staff who were, in general, very friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. All of the flavours combined brilliantly here and it was one of the afternoon’s highlights.
Duck With Duck Neck Sausage, Parsnip Mash, Currants & Five Spice
This was very tasty, the skin on the duck was perfectly crispy and the meat was very tender.
Pork Belly, Parmesan Crumb, Parmesan Foam
This was one of my favourite dishes of the day. It’s like a Sunday roast on a whole other level. The components were actually quite simple and the flavours were brilliant and very hearty – my favourite dish of the day.
Salted Caramel Parfait, Peanuts & Meringue
This dessert was excellent. It tasted like a Snickers bar and was very satisfying.
Strawberries, Vanilla, Yoghurt
This dessert wasn’t as impressive as the prior one. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it didn’t really stand out.
The room might be empty in the photo below, but that’s only because we were the last to leave after lunch. When we arrived the place was full.
I was really impressed by my meal at Gladioli. The food was generally very good and the atmosphere felt very relaxing and country like. There’s a lot of great food throughout regional Victoria that I’ve yet to try, and if Gladioli is indicative of what to expect from its peers, then there’s a lot to look forward to.
14 High Street
Lunch, Thu – Sun: from 12:00pm
Dinner, Wed – Sat: from 6:00pm