If you are up for a trip down Mornington Peninsula, then you should not miss out on the opportunity to visit Alatonero, the Greek-est looking restaurant in McCrae – bright, breezy and bursting with the Mediterranean colours of Santorini.
Situated across the road from the water, Alatonero offers a stunning mezze-style menu of Greek favourites including both traditional and modern dishes.
With over 25 years experience in the hospitality and tourism industry and having lived and worked on Santorini in her early 20’s, acclaimed chef Jacqui Poulier transfused all her knowledge of Greek cuisine and hospitality into her newest establishment.
From that love affair with Greece, combined with the many accolades her previous ventures Stillwater at Crittenden and Freshwater Catering, Alatonero – aka saltwater in Greek – was born.
Even though Poulier came up with the idea back in 2012, during her return to Greece, it wasn’t until 2016 that her idea came to life when the McCrae pavilion was offered for sale.
The location, both in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula but also facing the area’s landmark lighthouse felt ideal for the chef to create a space that feels and tastes like her favourite Cycladic island.
Drenched in blue and white hues, covered in murals and decorated with hand painted pottery, Alatonero’s philosophy is all about sharing and promoting Greek filoxenia.
Only a few steps away from the water, people can relax in the warm inside area or the alfresco, and exchange stories whilst enjoying local and Greek wine perfectly paired with traditional and modern Hellenic dishes.
Poulier, who feels Greek at heart, has made it her mission to recreate the taste of Greece by sourcing local produce like honey, coffee, local olive oil, Victorian seafood, local lamb and goat.
Meanwhile, there are many delicacies and ingredients imported from Greece which with Poulier’s finesse can make Mornington feel as close as the Aegean.
The place starts feeling like Greece as early as the first spoonfuls; its stuffed peppers with currants, rice and spices, the ‘pastes’ sardines drizzled in lemon, the charcoal octopus and the spit-baked mussels topped with feta and tomatoes taste like the real deal.
Poulier is a master of moussaka serving two takes, traditional and vegetarian, and bakes it in terracotta with the ouzo yiouvetsi being her second signature dish.
Some of the most well-reviewed items on the menu include the fried prawn cutlets wrapped in kataifi fried, served with lemon aioli and hazelnuts, the pork belly with fennel and local greens.
Classics like salt and pepper calamari or the occasional DIY souvlaki, served either with shredded lamb shoulder or pulled pork are not missing from Alatonero’s offerings.
The most popular dessert is arguably the fresh baklava with the salty caramel loukoumades being a favourite among the younger age groups.
Alatonero is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from May to October and is also available for functions and events.
Alatonero is located at 671 Point Nepean Rd, McCrae, VIC. For enquiries, call (03) 5981 1202 or email email@example.com