Each year in January the region celebrates its love affair with seafood at the Portarlington Mussel Festival. In 2016 the event will celebrate its 10th birthday with chefs, music, market stalls, cooking demonstrations and of course tonnes of mussels!
Visitors don’t need to wait until January to buy fresh mussels though, with fresh seafood available year-round. Sea Bounty Mussels is a premium producer which has been operating for the past 30 years in the cool, clear waters of Port Phillip Bay. Sea Bounty supplies mussels all over including a number of high-end restaurants, including Australia’s most highly awarded restaurant, Melbourne-based Attica, which serves a dish dedicated to the mussels.
Visitors can purchase sweet, succulent mussels direct from the farm gate at Advance Mussel Supply in Portarlington. Another family owned and operated business, oysters are also on the menu here, with the company growing and selling these delicious fresh local oysters direct to the public.
Abalone is regarded as a delicacy around the world and Jade Tiger Abalone at Indented Head produces more than 180 tonnes a year of live, frozen, canned and cooked vacuum packed product, mostly for the export market. Russell McGlashan, from McGlashan’s Wallington Estate winery, is an abalone diver himself and serves up this unique dish on a gourmet platter at his cellar door.
Along with world-class primary producers of seafood, The Bellarine has a range of amazing dining experiences utilising this beautiful fresh produce, from high quality fish and chip shops to cafes and restaurants. Visitors looking to try some local seafood have a myriad of choices.
Mi Shells Seafood sell fresh, locally caught seafood directly to the public every weekend from their boats at Queenscliff Harbour. Fish is seasonal but does include flathead, prawns, flake, oysters, Tasmanian salmon and scallops. Ice and containers are available so your fresh fish can be easily transported from the boat to your home or business.
At The Heads, an iconic destination restaurant in Barwon Heads, is a one of a kind dining experience offering unique views of the mouth of the Barwon River and Bass Strait, a great menu and friendly staff. Seafood is a star of the menu with fresh oysters, seafood platters, fish and chips and seafood marinara highlights.
Once the old Fire Station, the BeachHouse Barwon Heads showcases some of the Bellarine’s finest produce, wine, cider and beer. Fish of the day and fish and chips feature prominently on the menu, as do other seafood favourites such as spanner crab and calamari.
The Grand Dining Room at the historic Vue Grand in Queenscliff’s main street offers beautiful meals and excellent service for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday. Choose from the five-course Bellarine Tasting menu featuring local smoked octopus and clams or the a la carte offering.
Visit The Shed at Terindah Estate and you can see the mussel farmers at work from the outdoor seating or through the floor to ceiling glass walls. The panoramic views of the vineyard and vistas across the bay are spectacular. The Shed is open every day from 12 noon and offers succulent local seafood.
The menu at the fine dining Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant is designed using local and regional produce, giving visitors a wide variety of carefully prepared dishes representing seasonal ingredients with unique flavours and textures. Choose from the a la carte or tasting menu and be inspired by the delicate and delicious offerings.
On your way back through Geelong if you still haven't had enough seafood try King George on the waterfront. All your favorites of a local fish and chip shop plus a variety of healthy salads and fresh seafood platters. Located directly across from the iconic Christmas tree, it's fully licensed with breath taking water front views.