What to do in Sorrento

We are often asked at the Bistro what to do in Sorrento so here is our guide to the area, click on the links to see more information….

First stop is always the Point Nepean National park, one of the best things about living down here is the amazing pristine ocean environment we are surrounded by, this is a chance for visitors to feel envious of our lifestyle and hopefully we can convince a few of them to come and join us in our sea-change life.

For a quick caffeine pick me up and a delicious baguette to enjoy on your sight seeing stroll or as a reward for after your walk, drop into Le Capucin in Portsea, they have the French hospitality and are our go to for an early morning snack on our way to park. Be aware that you cannot take any pooches with you to the National Parks but if you fancy a dog friendly stroll the Cliff walk and Artist trail in Portsea is a great option.

Stand up paddle boarding is a low impact water sport that is right up our alley, there is a place on the front Bay beach in Sorrento over the summer months that gives you lessons and allows you to hire boards for a small fee, this is a great way to pass a few hot hours in the sun, remember to wear sunscreen.

If you are seeking adventures in the deeper water Judy and her team at Polperro dolphin swims are the people that you should try to spend a few hours with,they do small scale tours out to see the resident dolphin in the bay and are the bench mark for sustainable enviromentally concious tourism. We have always really enjoyed the trips with them.

In the main street we have a couple of favourite boutiques, Deb’s is stuffed full of some amazing designer frocks and the ladies that work there are always enjoying a glass of Sparkling and some oysters in the evening at our bar. Emia fashion is great for the younger demographic that are looking for a bit of fun styling on the beach and Cape Merchants have a huge range of interesting furniture and some great fashion, in particular we love the Irish knits…

And of course drop in to us at Bistro Elba to enjoy a meal when you are in town, we would love to see you.


Peninsula Hot Springs our guide

So we are lucky to be so close by to the Peninsula Hot Springs and if ever we need to relax this is where we head.

The best thing about living by the beach

The best thing about living by the beach

Unless you live 500 metres away from the Hot Springs on Browns Rd Rye like we do it is best to book well ahead as the Springs are super busy all year round. We like to get up at the break of dawn and have a comtemplative start to our day before the crowds arrive so often we are the first people in each morning.

The Hot Springs are also great because you can book a relaxing massage in one of the treatment rooms if you need a little extra help to relax.

extra keen on relaxing?

extra keen on relaxing?

While we love the whole springs experience we are not so keen on eating in our dressing gowns and so always make sure that we head back to Bistro Elba for a meal and glass of wine afterwards, like so many of our customers. After all its only a 10 minute drive from the Springs to Sorrento and driving along the beach rd is so lovely at all times of the year.

Yes having a restaurant on the Mornington Peninsula is full of unexpected rewards…


Where to eat; Mornington Peninsula best restaurants

Restaurants to eat at on the Mornington Peninsula as recommended by Bistro Elba

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Here is a link to the Lonely Planet guide for the Mornington Peninsula

I use to hide my copy of the Lonley Planet guide when I was back packing so that I would seem cooler to the strangers that I met while back pack. Times have changed and I now no longer have time to back pack, I still try to look cool around strangers.

Full of great Ideas if you are travelling in our area. Check it out


Barramundi with pink pepper corns

Russel Norman is a London restaurateur who has a great grasp of morden dining, we love looking at what he is doing on the other side of the world and often use him for inspiration. In this case we have just directly copied one of his dishes as it is so delicious we thought we could not improve it.

We are using Humpty Doo barramundi fillets which is a divergence from the original recipe but the fish is so delicate it really works in well in this technique. 

The recipe is simple, you just poach the fish in a mixture of 50% fish stock, 25% orange juice 25% lemon juice with a big slug of olive oil, seasoning the fish well. place it on heat, bring up to a simmer, turn heat off, put on lid, wait 30 seconds, pop in pink pepper corns, garnish with chopped mint, dill and parsley.... eat! yum

Here is a link to the Polpo book and you should go and ask Jane at Antipodes bookstore for a copy it's a great read with heaps of simple recipes.




Even though we are in the midst of the wild windy winter down here in Victoria the sun is shining further north in the country. This is why capsicum is so delicious and plentiful in the markets at this time of the year. We were thinking of how to use these in the restaurant and our minds kept straying to Romesco de peix that classic Catalan dish of fish in almond and red pepper broth.

We had a great recipe for Romesco sauce from Frank the chef at Movida in the city and with a small alteration to make it gluten free which is not traditional but almost needed in this current restaurant environment in Melbourne as there seems to be many guests who can no longer tolerate wheat.

4 tomatoes roasted  on grill

6 capsicums roasted on grill till black
1 onion roasted in skin 30 minutes
1 head of garlic roasted in skin 30 minutes

175 roasted hazelnuts
175 roasted flaked almonds
65 ml sherry Vinegar
100 ml olive oil
1 1⁄2 table spoons sweet paprika

blitz it all together in food processor and you will have enough romesco for a week of suppers....

salt to taste




欢迎光临Bistro Elba




葡萄酒是澳大利亚传统餐饮的重要组成部分,您很幸运,因为您来到了一个以酒庄而闻名的地区,我们希望您和您的客人在用餐的同时品尝我们最喜欢的葡萄酒。我们推荐的葡萄酒将与我们的菜肴相得益彰,为您在Bistro Elba用餐的体验增添复杂性和风味,我们乐于与国际游客分享我们对葡萄酒的这种热情。




我们澳大利亚人喜欢通过用餐进行社交,晚餐往往是我们日常生活的焦点,我们希望您能很好地利用在我们餐厅放松一下的机会,和您的朋友聊聊天,享受这里的氛围以及墙壁上的艺术画作,当然还要品尝我们的各式菜肴和美味的葡萄酒。在澳大利亚的餐厅文化中,如果您在餐厅用餐愉快,最好给服务员留下账单金额5 - 10%的小费,以向他们表示您以及您的客人对他们的感激之情。



Wine Dinners in Sorrento

Last week we hosted another great wine dinner with Andrew Marks wine maker at both Gembrook HIll and The Wanderer. The night began with a Gin and tonic for all the guests, made with of course Andrew's other project Melbourne Gin Co. gin, we garnished it with rosemary and pink grapefruit which complemented these notes in the gin's botanical profile. Once everyone had enjoyed a chat with the winemaker and found their seats there was a huge array of wine and food for them to enjoy.... 



The starting bracket was Blanc de Blancs sparkling, Gembrook Sauvignon Blanc and Gembrook Chardonnay, we teamed up with Andrew and his gin again and cured some fabulous winter salmon from Tasmania in the gin. Was a wonderful bracket of wine but the standout for everyone and possibly the most unexpected wine was the Sauvignon Blanc.

The next bracket was pinot focused with both the Gembrook Village Pinot and Estate Pinot matched with a pork pie with red currant gravy. The Estate pinot was really expressive and was my personal favourite but the Village wine seemed to be very popular on the evening judging by the amount of wine ordered from the ladies at the Independent Wine Store in Rye after the evening had concluded.


We finished the evening with the Wanderer Syrah and Shiraz both of these wine were from the same vines but showed the difference that you can get if you change the wine making techniques in the winery. 






Meet the Maker


Tuesday 24th July 6.30pm

Join us for a 3 course dinner with winemaker ANDREW MARKS from Gembrook Hill.
Gembrook Hill is one of the pacesetters in the Yarra Valley wine scene with its restrained yet complex style. Andrew’s wines are regarded as some of the most outstanding examples of their variety in Australia and are crafted with an old-world winemaking mindset, most of the vines are now aged over twenty years imparting great complexity to the wine.

Andrew will also be bringing along his other projects; The Wanderer and Melbourne Gin Company for you to enjoy as part of the night.

3 course dinner including wine $85

Bookings essential: 5984 4995

Arts in restaurants

Our whole restaurant is inspired by a book that I borrowed from James. It is a book called "reflexions" and the author is a guy called Richard Olney. It is essentially an memoir of his life in France, it informs many of the things that we do here at the bistro. Richard was involved in the lives of many of the worlds most influential food people over many years and I find his uncompromising search for excellence and quality inspirational also he has a way with language which is quite rare.

Anyhow the point to this is that we here at Bistro Elba are always looking for ways to bring that love of culture and the arts that we have to the fore front of our guests experience

One way that we celebrate the arts is with our monthly Literary lunch. We always strive to create a wonderful extravagant luncheon for the people clever enough to snare a ticket to these events. We always make sure that we have time in our work day to sit down and listen to the conversation with the author at every lunch, in fact at one of the lunches last year I found out that the author had worked with the before mentioned Mr Olney and told me that he was a really difficult character...

Next Friday we have Mark Brandi whose book I have not read (yet), but I am looking forward to hearing about as it is set in Western Districts of Victoria. 

I came in early to the restaurant today to do a bit of menu planning for the lunch next week and I am quite excited about what we are going to cook for everyone. If you have not attended a literary lunch before but like us love reading, books and all things interesting, please don't feel shy, come, we would love to have you for lunch.   

Literary Lunch
Friday 29th July 12:30 pm - till 3:30pm
Three course lunch with wines
$85 a person
ph. 5984 4995
or just pop in to book


winter gossip

Our newsletter began to keep people up to date with our bistro, and our town. So here are some of the things that we're finding interesting this week.
Winter here on the Peninsula is a time to take stock, step back from the day-to-day happenings and look at ways we can improve what we're doing, the benefits of which should never be underestimated - hello winter cocktail list.

We thought we'd let you in on our winter menu deliciousness, and our plans for the next few weeks.

We're staying open 7 days, lunch and dinner, all winter long. And yes half price oysters will continue 5pm-6pm daily.

Most arrestingly we have a new piece of art on the wall in the back of the room. A work by Gerwyn Davies, we noticed his work on Murray's instagram feed when he and Derek travelled back to Sydney in March we think he's great, right up our alley. Here's a link to his work online, you should come and check it out at some point, it's very pretty.


** Marron crayfish bisque

With the closing in of the weather we thought it was a good time to start cooking with cream, butter and all of those delicious rich flavours. We were also hoping to create an Instagram sensation and have millions of people flocking to the main street of Sorrento to have the chance to eat at Bistro Elba so come in and be one of the early adopters.

** Cherry Tree Organics

For many years now we have been quietly using the best organic lamb in the country, grown by Shane Blundy in Gippsland, Cherry Tree Organics has always been one of our most loved producers.
It would frighten us to add up how many lamb shoulders we have sold both down here on the Peninsula and before that in Fitzroy, but I could count on one hand the times that people have been disappointed. We thought that you might be interested to know you can order directly from Shane and he will deliver to your door, delivery day on the Peninsula is Thursdays, here is a link to the web store.


** A place in the sun

When we knocked the back wall of the restaurant down and put in the big window I never thought the room would be so nice in winter. Sun just streams in and we find it hard to draw ourselves away.

This month with our neighbours Antipodes Bookstore we're hosting award winning author Mark Brandi at our LITERARY LUNCH, he'll be in conversation with local wordsmith Andrea Rowe about his crime novel 'Wimmera'.
Get your monthly dose of culture on
Friday the 29th of June at 12:30.
3 courses with wine $85
Here's a review by Sue Turnbull if you want to get the jump on what other people have to say about it. Book Review (https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/wimmera-review-mark-brandis-evocation-of-crime-and-masculinity-in-the-outback-20171006-gyvjn4.html)
Book your place by calling the bistro 5984 4995