First judge’s comments in 2018
Everything at Merne is consistently wonderful. You don’t visit Merne for a quick meal but to be indulged and enjoy a memorable dining experience – comfortable and reassuring yet challenging and surprising at the same time. This is the holiday house in the country and personal chef you dream of because at Merne you feel like a fondly regarded member of a special family. Chef Josh Smith shows off his skills and passion for subtle innovation and respect for quality ingredients. Front of house Caleb Fleet is a marvel at reading his guests and delivers beyond expectation in a kind and unobtrusive fashion. The setting of Merne is beautiful, the décor a delight, the drinks list a fascinating challenge, the service is superb, and the value for money is excellent. Whats not to love?
Beautiful setting and decor. Customer service that make you feel special. A sensational dining experience where time flies. Remarkable value for money.
Second judges report coming soon
What the judges said in 2017
Merne@Lighthouse was the well deserved winner of the Golden Plate State Awards in 2017. It is a fine example of the best in contemporary dining in Regional Victoria.
Foodies’ mecca in the Bellarine
Merne at the Lighthouse is a hot-house of talent jointly owned and run by Matt Dempsey (Chef of renowned Pettavel Restaurant and Owner Gladioli and Tulip restaurants), Caleb Fleet (Food and Beverage Manager Vue Grand Hotel Queenscliffe), Graham Jefferies (Pettavel alumni and Head Chef at Tulip), and Merne’s Head Chef Josh Smith (three years Sous Chef at Tulip and formerly The Royal Mail Dunkeld and Gordon Ramsay’s Maze). Merne is set amongst olive groves with views of Swan Bay, grape vines and a Plummer bird protecting its nest from the flocks of birds passing by and young gum trees setting the scene for tranquillity and escaping from life’s hectic schedule. Merne is an indigenous name for “food from the earth”. Customer service was impeccable and presentation was perfect. The meals were exceptional, elegant and flavoursome. The menu is designed for sharing with a choice of two courses with option for dessert or four courses at a fixed price. Merne’s menu showcases freshest and finest produce from the Bellarine Peninsula. There was an extensive selection of premium local wines and full page dedicated to craft beers. This restaurant is serious about quality and service and is a great attraction for the Geelong region.
Highly talented team. Beautiful bush setting. Exceptional, elegant and flavoursome meals. Good drinks menu. A fabulous dining experience.
- STATE WINNER – 2017 GOLDEN PLATE AWARDS
- STATE and REGIONAL WINNER – Best Contemporary Dining – Sponsored by Comcater P/L
- REGIONAL WINNER – Best Customer Service – Sponsored by European Affair
- REGIONAL WINNER – Most Outstanding Front of House Person – Caleb Fleet – Sponsored by European Affair
- FINALIST – Best Chef – Josh Smith – Sponsored by Luxury Escapes
- FINALIST – Best Menu of Local Foods – Sponsored by Western Plains Pork
- FINALIST – Best Cellar of Local Wines Beers and Ciders – Sponsored by Furphy