So Clangers and I are proud but not paid up exactly fans of Anthony Bourdain, cheeky beast. The man is glib, enjoys life as much as he can, likes food, booze and words, has a social conscience and heart to match … does not like Hipsters but is intrigued by their ways. Long story short Anthony, via YouTube, we’ve completely given up on Foxtel – ‘told’ us all about the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld.
Keen for an adventure and in pursuit of the good things in life, we went. The Royal Mail Hotel is a converted Post Office building with beautiful retro architecture, with comfortable accommodation and beautiful views of the Grampians canvased in the bluest of skies and the softens of greens.
Set at the southern tip of the rocky Grampians National Park, the Royal Mail Hotel was a stop for 19th-century postal workers; it became a wine destination in the 1990s when Allan Myers bought the property and added a 20,000-bottle wine list to the restaurant. To bring the quality of the food up to the standard of his wines, Myers hired Dan Hunter, who was chef de cuisine at the Michelin two-star restaurant Mugaritz in Spain. By the time the late noughties, Hunter was rumored to be cooking some of the best food in Australia.
Executive Chef Robin began his culinary career at the age of fourteen and while he did not initially want to be a chef, Robin has been cooking since he left school and quickly fell in love with it, working his way through some of London’s most respected restaurants – Pied a Terre, Bibendum and The Glasshouse, working under famed chef’s such as Bruno Loubet, Stephen Terry and Raymond Blanc.
Among his many achievements Robin was awarded The Age Good Food Guide ‘Young Chef of the Year’ in 2004, Gourmet Traveller ‘Best New Talent’ in 2005, as well earning two hats in The Age Good Food Guide in 2007 and 2008 at Interlude.
Robin briefly moved to Melbourne’s The Deanery, earning a hat rating, before making a sea change to Apollo Bay with his wife Kate in November 2010 and then the tree change to Dunkeld in September 2013.
We were also the very grateful recipients of the knowledge and skills of Sommelier Jeremy Burke. We fessed up to our mutual appreciation of Whiskey and Jeremy brought us two diverse treats from Nants Distillery in Tasmania.
In a year (2012) where Royal Mail Hotel won the prestigious Australia’s Wine List of the Year, Jeremy Burke has jumped head first into managing the Hotel’s 26,000 bottles of international and national wines, along with one of Australia’s leading collections of Bordeaux and Burgundy.
With a Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, Jeremy has experience managing wine service in 5 star hotels, along with three and two hatted restaurants in Sydney including Pier and Aria respectively.
Jeremy’s move to the small hamlet of Dunkeld extends beyond the Hotel’s award winning cellar. He is keen to spend his days off exploring local wine region’s including Henty, Great Western, and over the border to the Coonawarra.
In charge of the Royal Mail Hotel’s wine program, characterised by an uncompromising dedication to providing one of the most comprehensive and varied collections of wine in Australia, Jeremy is looking forward to taking the Cellar to new heights.
Here is a link to the Royal Mail Hotel’s impressive Wine Cellar.
We stayed for just one night, as all good romances must be but we could have stayed for two or three or four or more. We enjoyed the best food and wine sourced locally. We had the most exquisite ham and memorable home made doughnuts – although I was only able to smell them and had to enjoy them vicariously and watch Clangers do the actual devouring … grrrrrrr!