For those of you who don’t know – Weller’s of Kangaroo Ground is gone. It’s actually been gone for a long time now, so clearly you’ve been living in a cupboard for a couple of years. But not to worry, as you come stretching out of the darkness, you’ll realise that something even better has filled its shoes (actually, re-furbed its shoes with a much better aspect, too!) by the name of Fondata 1872.
This place is nothing like Wellers, so don’t go there expecting anything short of a slick, modern and impressive fit-out and well executed modern Italian cuisine. And to top it off, they’ve re-oriented the restaurant so it takes advantage of those beautiful rolling hills of Kangaroo Ground. Ahh, let’s order a couple of bottles of Yering Station ‘Village’ Chardonnay ($57/ea) and take in this lovely scenery….
Hubby Bear and I trekked here with his parents, who were keen to check it out as previous patrons of Wellers. As we arrived for our lunch reservation, we were all in the mood to be impressed and happy with what we found – and thank goodness – Fondata delivered because that’s exactly how our entire lunch went. Granted, there may still be things to iron out service-wise (as many of them seemed new to their roles), but hey, that sort of stuff smooths out over time.
Okay, food time! We started off with the Arancino Balls ($5/ea), stuffed with tomato and mozzarella – crunchy on the outside, but soft and gooey inside. This was a very good start to our meal!
Hubby bear and his mum each had the Ricotta Gnocchi alla norma ($23) which were incredibly soft little mouthfuls of goodness, mixed through a rich tomato and eggplant sauce. This dish was highly praised by both and I’m pretty sure will be ordered again the next time we go!
Papa Bear had the Angus Beef Porterhouse ($36) which arrived looking a little bit like artwork on a plate – sitting along side a tall nest of sweet potato crisps. Baked onion chutney accompanied the beef, which (according to the menu) was ‘dry aged’ and topped with a rich red wine sauce. My father-in-law is a man of few words, so instead of getting him to describe how it was, I let the void on his plate speak for him – and it spoke volumes: that was a good meal
We all shared in (you could even say, sort of fought over) the Baked Cauliflower ($8) side dish. It was perfection – oozy, crispy, soft, salty, creamy. (Mental note: order one for just myself!)
I had a Pumpkin Maltagliati ($23), which was absolutely delightful. The sweetness of the baked-to-soft-mush-pumpkin was offset by the crispy sage, and accented by the sharpness of the parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. My-oh-my. Fondata, thank you.
To add a bit more green to the table, we also shared in a Rocket and Parmesan Salad ($8). It had a great zesty dressing which cleansed our gobs just right so we were ready for the next flavour-packed mouthful from our mains.
And hey, you can’t come this far in your lunch without topping it off with some dessert, right? Right! Papa Bear got a Cannolo ($5) topped and tailed with crushed pistachios. The sweet ricotta filling disappeared as he crunched his way through the pastry. Empty cup = happy father-in-law.
Hubby and I shared a Tiramisu della nonna ($16) – with lovely layers of alternating cakey-biscuit, coffee hits and cream sitting underneath a generous shake of powered chocolate. Delicious.
To finish our meal, Mama Bear had a Long Black, Hubby and Pappa Bear had Flat Whites ($4/ea) – and I had a Soy Flat White ($5). We all sat back, with full bellies and smiles on our faces and watched the wonderful Melbourne weather, though the expanse of glass next to our table, alternate over the hills from sunny skies to instant rain showers – and back again.
Need we say more? They’re worth the trek. Go.
Address: 150 Eltham – Yarra Glen Road, Kangaroo Ground, Victoria Australia
Tip! They have a bar area to the side of the restaurant, so if you don’t want to partake in a full meal – you can go to have some drinks and munch on their bar menu offerings. Yet you’ll still get that glorious view!