Cilantro is most commonly known as a herb, the spanish name for corriander. However, Cilantro is for me now the definition of fine dining after an incredible dinner at the fabulous Cilantro restaurant in Dinner Plain, Victoria. A stunning menu and exceptional service has put this restaurant amongst one of my best holiday dining experiences. Mediterranean in flavour and Australian in hospitality- Que bueno es Cilantro!
I had heard that Cilantro was a must when visiting in Dinner Plain and as we wanted the true weekend break and snow experience, a night out enjoying a good meal was on the cards. What we got – was above and beyond expectations.
Walk through the red curtains into a warm light of overhead chandaliers and a fireplace radiating through the room. The charming host and manager, Josh, greets his guests in a way that makes you feel as if you’ve been friends for years. Escorted to our table and quickly presented with one of the most important things, the wine list. I flipped straight to the cocktails and chose from the many delicious concoctions.The Ranga: Cointreau, Stones Ginger Wine, Pernod, spiced sugar syrup, dry ginger, lime, tarragon – was divine! We were given a constant flow of the best tasting tap water in Australia (fresh from the mountain springs) and it was time to view the menu.
My suggestion when browsing the menu is to listen to your experienced waiter. We were overwhelmed by the delicious delicacies listed before us and we were yet to hear the specials. Of the 4 specials that were then suggested to us we took 3 and followed with 2 more selections.The menu is made to share and it is encouraged that you enjoy the dining experience together. This is my favourite way to eat and it certainly brought the 3 at my table together.
First to come out were the Oysters with lemon sorbet, a match made in heaven. A rainbow of flavour was created in my mouth and I was transported to a summer evening with the freshness of the oysters and lemons. I loved the creativty of this dish. And this was only number 1.
Tasmanian Pacific oysters with dolin vermouth jelly & preserved lemon sorbet
We were quickly presented with the special, Charcoaled Prawns. Forgive me for not remembering the full description – I was sold at Jumbo Prawns. There was nothing left on the plate as the entire prawn could be devoured.
Hot chorizo, made in the restaurant, presented on potato foam. Another special and it did not disappoint. So much flavour packed into this dish.
Chargrilled baby octopus salad came out next and was a flavour fusion – this was another one that was sold to us at first mention and on there being only a few left for the evening.
The ultimate and pivotal point of the meal, the arrival of the 14 hour slow cooked beef cheeks. We could smell this dish from the kitchen and eagerly anticipated its presence at the table. We admired, we enjoyed, we were wowed! This was the dish of the night and a must when visiting Cilantro.
Beef cheek slow cooked for 14 hours in bay leaf, pedro ximenez, cumin & currants with manchego potato mash & fresh horseradish
This was the end of our first order and it was certainly not enough. We had major food envy of the diners next to us enjoying many more specialties and quickly asked for help in choosing our next dishes. We followed with the Half baby chicken, stuffed with pine mushrooms, served with corn puree, spanish radish & pancetta crisps – oh my goodness! This was perfect to share and just an incredible melt in your mouth moment.
Half baby chicken, stuffed with pine mushrooms, served with corn puree, spanish radish & pancetta crisps
After seeing the couple next to us oder the Croquettas of smoked eel & leek with lemon and harrisa sauce, we had to have them. I love croquettas after having them made by a peruvian mother of a friend – I didn’t think they got much better. Fine dining croquettas are just delicious – and I’d usually not be a fan of eel, but now I’ll be paying attention.
Croquettas of smoked eel & leek with lemon and harrisa sauce
A few more cocktails for me including the surprise cocktail of mango and passionfruit caprioska, a fresh end to the meal.
Mango & Passionfruit: Capiaroska Finlandia Vodka, Mohala Mango liquor, passionfruit, lime, sugar
We couldn’t however resist the gourmet desserts on offer, again seeing them on the table next to us and smelling the rich chocolate waft over sealed the deal. Chocolate ganache pudding with prune & armagnac ice cream & brandy snap. We shared this between three of us and if anything could come between friends, this would! We had to refrain from licking the plate and were absolutely satisfied with this conclusion to the meal.
Chocolate ganache pudding with prune & armagnac ice cream & brandy snap
Cilantro is an intimate, warm and lively restaurant situated in the charming village of Dinner Plain in Victorias Snow fields. 15 minutes down the hill from Mt Hotham is the picturesque and friendly village with a comforting atmosphere.
My compliments sincerely go to the chef, Tim Griffiths, who is a true master. The food combinations he has created using quality Australian priduce to make a delicious mediterranean flavour and experience is art. My only complaint Tim, I could only enjoy so many things on that menu in one night. This means of course – I will be back.
You can rest assured you will be well taken care of by the delightful Josh who will ensure that you not only eat the most delicious dishes in the country, but that you truly enjoy yourself. Attention to detail, genuine care for guests and some phenomenal cocktails from the master cocktail maker. This team is unbeatable.
I’m thrilled to say I will be back to Mt Hotham for a ski trip in 2 short weekends time and we have already made our reservation for Saturday night when the incredible Jimmy Campbell from Movida Restaurant in Melbourne joins this stellar cast.
I won’t be giving a rating in stars or a number out of ten, I don’t think these measures will do this place justice. Instead I leave you with two quotes from my fellow diners:
“I am actually wowed – and I’m fussy when it comes to fine dining.”
“This was actually the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. I’m so excited to come back to the snow in two weeks and I’m not sure if i’m more excited for the snow or the food!!”
Hasta luego Cilantro.
(Until next time.)
To learn more about Cilantro or make a booking, Contact:
Jodi & Tim
Big Muster Drive, Dinner Plain VIC 3898
PO Box 24, Dinner Plain VIC 3898
T: (03) 5159 6799
Click HERE to view a map