Rare Hare @ Willow Creek: Serving Up That Wow Factor
Address: 166 Balnarring Road, Merricks North, VIC 3926
With a name like Rare Hare you would expect a winery and restaurant that is quirky and unique, and that’s exactly what you’ll get. Set in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula, there’s something truly special about this place that’s recognisable from the moment you step through the doors.
This is a seriously striking and original place, combining the beauty of the Willow Creek Vineyard with amazing new architecture and sculptures. People around Willow Creek were pretty worried when an unknown Chinese entity purchased the property and I don’t think anybody would have expected such a different and amazing project.
The big, friendly team instantly make you feel welcomed, and continue to do so throughout your visit. With Wine Compass, you’ll get to enjoy incredible wines from Willow Creek and Rare Hare’s own, plus a feast from their sharing menu
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It’s true what they say; you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. That’s how we felt when Willow Creek closed for 2 years, and we had to make do without some of our favourite wines.
But now, thanks to Rare Hare, Willow Creek is back in our lives (and glasses). We’re big fans of their work, especially their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sparkling.
That’s not to say that Willow Creek completely steals the spotlight, though. Rare Hare holds its own with their own entry level wines sourced from around Australia. Make sure you keep an eye out for their Rare Hare White (a delightful Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc blend) and their Pyranees Shiraz.
Using fresh ingredients both from on-site and local producers, Rare Hare’s restaurant drums up a great selection of modern and generously sized dishes. Our tour groups enjoy a sharing feast of numerous courses, a large and seasonally changing assortment of delicious foods. We dined their recently and enjoyed:
Mussel escabeche / fennel / preserved lemon
Negroni cured trout / horseradish crème / rye toast / dill
Green and yellow beans / goats cheese / mint / shaved egg
Fiore di burrata / green tomato / almond & seeds / tarragon
Carrots / labne / dukkah / pesto
Charcoal eggplant / red miso / furikake
Snapper / smoked mussel butter / many herbs
Lamb rump / harissa / smoked yoghurt / green olive / anchovies (pictured
Although the menu changes, the quality never does, and you’re sure to be very satisfied by whatever they have in store for you on your visit.
Once you make it past the 7 metre tall Jackalope sculpture at the entrance, the wonders in architecture and design just keep on coming. Perfectly set on the property to take advantage of the vast vineyard views that are spread over 11 hectares of land, visitors are treated to a visual feast. From the Jackalope hotel with it’s stylish design and vine views from every room, to the homestead comfort of the Rare Hare restaurant and Willow Creek barrel room, a visit here is unlike any other location on the Peninsula.
What we like
Great food, amazing wines and spectacular photo opportunities at every turn. A very impressive stop on any tour.
What we don’t like
Due to its popularity, the cellar door and restaurant here can get pretty busy, so bookings are often limited.