Fine dining restaurant Gladioli is preparing to open its doors in Port Fairy.
Owner and chef Matthew Dempsey is bringing the restaurant, formerly of Inverleigh, which reached a high of 54 in the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards in 2015 and received two hats in The Age Good Food Guide, to the seaside town.
Mr Demsey said the original Gladioli Restaurant in Inverleigh was renamed Inverleigh Cellar and Kitchen in July last year. “We weren’t sure if we’d reopen it or not but we kept ownership of the name and the website, because we thought maybe down the track there might be an opportunity. We thought it would be Warrnambool but it’s falling in nicely into Port Fairy,” Mr Dempsey said.
Gladioli will be located at Seacombe House, formerly the home of The Stag and Fen restaurant.
Mr Dempsey said the high-end fine dining restaurant would offer contemporary Australian cuisine cooked by head chef Matthew Murphy.
Gladioli is scheduled to open late September and will be taking bookings in a fortnight. “It will be modern food featuring local and seasonal produce where possible, using interesting techniques but the overriding thing is it has to be tasty,” Mr Dempsey said. “We don’t want to get too caught up. High profile restaurants around the world sometimes put showmanship and techniques in front of real flavour, so we want to make sure it’s super tasty.”
He and wife Kate also own Inverleigh Cellar & Kitchen, Conlan's Wine Store in Port Fairy and are part owners of Tulip in Geelong. The couple has owned Conlan’s, which offers casual dining, for almost two years and he said Gladioli would provide “high-end fine dining and prices will reflect that.”
He believes the Port Fairy restaurant scene is constantly evolving. “There’s always something new happening. There’s such a diverse range.”
Mr Dempsey grew up in Penshurst and has lived in Port Fairy at various times in his life.
“This is home for me. We’ve been back for four years now. My wife’s from Geelong so we’ve had a fair bit of time down there.”
He said the couple and their three school-aged children were “starting to put our roots down” and were looking forward to opening Gladioli.
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