I have been to The Capel a few times and for reasons unknown this restaurant and bar has changed hands too many times, maybe too many for it to establish itself as a good local spot, but the current owners have been there a while now and even though they appeared to be struggling with getting bums on seats off the back of some bad reviews and and word of mouth experiences, I think that could be about to change. I only live around the corner from The Capel and I have to be honest I haven’t been there for a while because some dear friends of mine had experienced poor food and bad service on two separate occasions, without going into details, I lost interest in going there. Over the Christmas season we have had some British friends that now reside in Georgia USA, staying with my sister and her hubby, they have been sampling some of the local eateries including the Rocks in Mornington and I wanted them to experience some of the great restaurants and pubs we have on the Peninsula. So we had made plans to eat out Saturday night at The Sorrento Hotel which has always been a favorite for good pub grub and an amazing view across the bay, however, if you have ever visited the Mornington Peninsula anywhere between Boxing Day and Australia Day you would know that half of Melbourne is on holiday down here and it was particularly busy in Sorrento and Rye on Saturday probably because new year’s eve is only two sleeps away, car parks were non existent and all the pubs and restaurants were packed to the rafters, so we needed a plan B?
The Capel, was in our opinion safe and close, although we were still expecting a busy restaurant we had no problem booking online with Dimmi, all dinner time slots were available which scared me a little! Arriving at 8 pm for our reservation we were not that surprised to see the restaurant empty apart from two tables and one rather large group we walked past on our way in. We were welcomed immediately and shown to our table for six. Within one minute we had water glasses and a bottle on the table, within three minutes the waiter had returned and took our drink orders. It was quiet so this so shouldn’t impress me but so far so good. The boys all ordered the Mornington Peninsula Brewery’s Pale Ale which has become a favorite among the men folk! The wine list is not huge by any means but some trusted wines to choose from including Four Sisters, The Yearling and although not on the wine list my hubby spotted a 2008 Yering Station Shiraz Viognier up on a shelf, so he promptly harassed the nearest staff member how much it was and could he have it? This particular wine is rated 95 points by James Halliday so my hubby was very excited and I have to say what an amazing drop, so smooth with floral notes and peach, however peppery on the palate, divine!
For starters we ordered three of the same dish to share which was Lemongrass and Ginger Prawns with Vietnamese dipping sauce, the prawns were in a light tempura style batter and cooked so perfectly and the dipping sauce was more of a caramelized onion relish but a delicious compliment all the same, it was unanimous thumbs up! For mains two of us ordered the Calamari which is seasoned with lemon pepper and served with a Thai salad, om my wordy lordy, I don’t order calamari as a rule because it gets boring it’s always the same, oh no not this time, WOW! Cooked perfectly tender and coated ever so lightly it was an absolute pleasure to put in your mouth, I didn’t order this so I had to steal some off the brother in law’s plate! I ordered along with another of our dining mates the Crispy Lamb Salad served with rocket, cucumber, red quinoa, Spanish onion and honey and wholegrain mustard dressing, this was very tasty but my only beef about it was the lamb being cooked in a crumb made the meat dry, really tasty but dry. I would have preferred a lamb crisped up in hot fry pan and closer to medium rare but it was yummy regardless. My sister chose the Risotto with mushroom, asparagus and Parmesan, what a lovely combination, dripping with cheese all over the perfectly moist rice and beautifully fresh vegetables. Lucky last was the Hubby, he ordered the Porterhouse steak with a red wine jus, it came with polenta, pea puree and glazed shallots and the best roasted, or fried I’m not sure, baby potatoes ever, he gave me two and they were so good, along with the steak which was cooked perfectly.
I have enjoyed my previous meals at The Capel but I was suitably impressed with what we were served, clean fresh flavors beautifully prepared and presented, the service was also very good, I can’t fault it. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending The Capel to anyone, please try it, and to those who have dined there previously and were less than happy, give it another go, if your experience is the same as mine you won’t be disappointed!