The Gin Kitchen Opens in Aireys Inlet
It's exciting news that Great Ocean Road Gin has opened a restaurant – The Gin Kitchen – as part of their offering alongside their Tasting Room on the Great Ocean Road, Aireys Inlet. Great for the region and great for those of us from Melbourne keen to visit this foodie destination.
In November 2017, Ann Houlihan - who has over 20 years’ experience in food and drink in Melbourne for companies such as the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria - and her partner Kris Mckie moved their family to Aireys Inlet for a sea-change and for Ann to begin making her small batch craft gin that features botanicals from the region. Great Ocean Road Gin’s first release was Guvvos in August 2018 and the Tasting Room/Gin Garden opened later that year as the home of the gin.
When the neighbouring cafe became available for lease in April this year Houlihan took it on, re-designing the space herself with the intention to create a destination food and gin cocktail bar in Aireys Inlet. The doors to The Gin Kitchen opened early September.
The space which has indoor and outdoor seating for up to 74 guests connects through to the Tasting Rooms garden next door. Houlihan commissioned local artist – Cinnamon Stephens – to make the seagrass metal gates that allow both venues to open into one large outside garden space. The restaurant interior - think modern industrial meets the coast – it’s bright, warm and inviting with polished concrete floors, a central corten steel bar with a light Victorian ash bench top and striking wire lightshades cast shadows on the crisp white walls.
The rich blue banquet seating and aqua and green finishes add some colour that are in keeping with their signature gin Guvvos brand.
The menu, by head chef Hoan Kiem Ho (aka Andre), embraces a broad South East Asian palette that incorporates his native Vietnamese as well as Thai, Malaysian and Chinese inspiration. Shared plates include, pork bao buns, san choy bao, beef wrapped in betel leaf and larger dishes, such as Char Kuay Teow and the Red Duck curry which features free range ducks from Great Ocean Ducks, in Port Campbell. The menu is a la carte, and a set banquet menu is currently being served on Saturday nights.
Chef Andre’s background has seen him work in a number of modern Asian restaurants in Melbourne and regional Vic, with his last position as sous chef at Fook Shing in Kyneton.
The drinks are – mostly – all about the gin! Great Ocean Road Gin’s most recent release, a collaboration with another local business Bob Sugar is called South East meet South West, meaning Victorian south-west-coastal botanicals including kelp, pigface and lemon gum have been distilled with South East Asian citrus flavours of lime, lemongrass and yuzu. The gin is the House pour at The Gin Kitchen and is the base of many of the cocktails available including the Lychee Seabreeze, Cherry Blossom Delight and the signature Martini - S.East Meets S.West gin, coconut water and a twist of lime. The full gin range is also available for tastings and G&T’s.
The drinks list includes some local beers and wines which are available by the glass or bottle, too.
“We are really excited to have opened The Gin Kitchen and would love for it to become an iconic SEAsian food and gin cocktail bar in Aireys on the Great Ocean Road. We are all about great booze and great food and hope the space becomes a favourite for locals and visitors to the region,” says Ann Houlihan. “As for our gin, we will have our new still fired up in the distillery space in Torquay before the end of the year and continue to make gins that speak to this fabulous place that we call home.”
Great Ocean Road Gin bottled gins, premix cans and bottled cocktails are available for takeaways and there are plans for Sunday Yum Cha & G&Ts in the near future.
The Gin Kitchen Hours:
A la Carte
Fri-Sun lunch 12.30-2.30pm
Thurs, Fri + Sun dinner – two sittings – 5.30pm + 8pm
Five-Course Banquet Menu
Sat dinner – two sittings – 5.30pm + 8pm
The Banquet Menu is a set price, minimum two people $60/person for meat
eaters; $55/person for vegetarians and vegans.
Great Ocean Road Gin Kitchen
34 Great Ocean Road,
03 5210 5705