For our recent wedding, Mr M and I received a gift voucher to Ten Minutes by Tractor (referred to as 10X) from our lovely friends A & C. In between the madness of December catch ups we managed to find a free Sunday and headed out to Red Hill on an absolutely glorious day for lunch.
I will admit that heading out there I knew very little about the restaurant, other than they were apparently fully booked and had a wait list for Sunday lunch. In any event when we arrived the restaurant was empty (although we did have a noon booking!):
We settled in to look at the menu and the wine list – actually wine lists. 10X offers a gigantic 2 inch tome with a huge variety of wines (including notes and explanations) as well as a shortened, “most popular” list. As well as full bottles there is a good variety of wines by the glass and by the taste (90ml) – smart for a place that lots of punters will need to drive to. I was very tempted to try a “wine flight” (3 tastes for $30) although both flights on offer included fortifieds, which are not my preference. As we had a designated driver we opted to go with wines by the glass – I started with a glass of the Ashton Hills Blanc de Blanc and Mr M tried the 2008 Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Pinot Noir.
I declined entrée (would prefer to enjoy dessert) and Mr M ordered a special – quail with pumpkin puree and slivered almonds. While we were waiting we were served some (I’m told) excellent olive bread along with butter and 10X’s own olive oil, called “tractor oil”.
The quail arrived and looked absolutely beautiful:
The quail was perfectly cooked and very tender, the pumpkin puree didn’t have a lot of flavour but the whole dish was pulled together by the crunch of the slivered almonds. Mr M was pretty pleased with his choice.
The menu included suggested matched wines by the glass, for my main course (the duck) it was the 2005 Torres Celeste Ribera del Duero Crianza. I asked the waitress if there was a suggested 10X wine that I could order by the glass to eat with the duck. She informed me that the only red wine from the vineyard that is offered by the glass is the 10X pinot (which Mr M already had) – I thought this was a little disappointing. Nonetheless, I left it at that and ordered the Celeste, which was beautiful with strong flavours of blackberry.
The duck was described in the menu as “Spice Roasted Duck Breast, resting on a sweet potato and cinnamon fondue, crispy prosciutto and a dried fig sauce” ($37), it arrived also looking pretty impressive:
The duck was succulent and offset by the dense, sweet, fig sauce. Concealed under the duck was the advertised sweet potato and cinnamon “fondue”, which was not particularly flavoursome.
Mr M ordered the rabbit, which was described as “Duo of rabbit – Persilade rabbit leg with roasted loin, sweet corn coulis, a potato and pistachio purée then finished with a rabbit jus” ($38):
I had a taste of Mr M’s rabbit (for blogging purposes only I swear!) and it was delicious. I really enjoyed the contrast between the crusted portion and the roasted portion of rabbit. The lardons were deliciously rich and salty and gave the dish the kick it needed. I enjoyed Mr M’s rabbit so much that we ended up swapping mains (though to be fair, he does love duck and he really enjoyed the sweetness from the fig sauce and the citrus salad). My only gripe with the rabbit dish was that both the potato and pistachio puree and the rabbit jus lacked a little oomph.
We ordered a side dish of asparagus gratin ($9):
… which was fine, although perhaps the sauce was a little too liquid.
At this stage we stopped for a breather and to enjoy the beautiful view across the vineyards:
This was very, very good. As I have said before, I love the whole salted caramel flavour combination (or fad if you will). The little pieces of popcorn were crunchy, salty, sweet little pops of deliciousness. They reminded me strongly of the ”lolly gobble bliss bombs“ of my childhood, although infinitely better (as an aside, these also have an appreciation group – gold!). The caramel popcorn ice-cream was excellent and the ginger pannacotta had enough zing to save the whole dish from being an overly sweet affair. I gave Mr M a taste of this but it was a very, very small taste.
Meanwhile, Mr M was also pleased with his dessert – the “Rich Chocolate Mousse with Cointreau ice-cream, peppermint syrup and dehydrated chocolate mousse” ($18):
The dish also included some non-advertised elements, being a dark chocolate “jelly” (which was an intense chocolate flavour with an interesting texture) and some Persian fairy floss (which was probably not needed and I think a little passe – reminds me of Pearl circa early 2000s). The chocolate mousse had the requisite creamy richness and was apparently made from “hand crafted” Yarra Valley chocolate from Kennedy & Wilson. The dehydrated chocolate mousse was a little weird, it was very hard to break and had an aerated biscuit consistency. I was a little uncertain about it but Mr M thought that its consistency brought the dish together. He also really enjoyed the peppermint syrup and the citrusy ice-cream.
We ended the meal with some excellent coffee from Five Senses – mine was served in an attractive Riedel cup that was actually a little difficult to drink out of:
Overall it was a good meal. 10X is aiming for a fine dining experience and it does this very well, particularly as a regional restaurant. That said, it is not a cheap day out. While not a rustic vineyard experience, 10X is just perfect if you’re looking for a lovely meal and a chance to get out of the city.
Ten Minutes by Tractor
1333 Mornington Flinders Road
Main Ridge, VIC
Ph: (03) 5989 6080
Cellar Door – Open 7 days a week
11am to 5pm
Restaurant & Tractor Wine Bar
Lunch: Thursday – Sunday 12-3
Dinner: Thursday – Saturday 6-late