Great lunches on The Great Ocean Road

Leaving Melbourne mid morning is the way most travelers begin their Great Ocean Road adventure. A typical first day will end in Apollo Bay, itself well served with pubs and restaurants.

So where is a good spot for lunch? The answer is as varied as your desires as there are many options every day of the year.

Depending on your inclination to stop for sightseeing, walking, and browsing the retail offerings you will be looking for lunch somewhere between Geelong and Airey’s Inlet.

Geelong is a 45-minute drive from Melbourne, so lunch here is for late starters or those perhaps visiting the Mansion at Werribee or the National Wool Museum near the waterfront in Geelong. The waterfront precinct has been transformed from an industrial export hub to recreation and sightseeing along boardwalks lined with exotic trees. There are several restaurants in this precinct, as well as take away outlets and cafes. The Fisherman’s Pier is perched on the wharf overlooking a mixture of working boats and yachts. It has a well-deserved reputation for fine seafood and its menu changes every day based on the local catch. Almost next door is Le Parisien with a menu as French as its name. Along with the main menu it offers a range of light salads at lunchtime. Try the salted lime and calamari. Both restaurants offer a wide selection of local wines.

If you are headed straight for the coast then Torquay is a more probable starting point for lunch. It’s about 20 minutes from Geelong and the start of The Great Ocean Road. The older town centre has a good range of cafes and take-away food outlets. Along the main beach foreshore there are restaurants serving lunch to a good standard. Growlers is housed in an older building with ocean views serving interesting soups, delicious salads with seafood, and beef for the hungrier.   Scorched has rated consistently highly in The Age Good Food Guide and has received one hat in the 2013 edition (one hat puts a restaurant in the top 10% for Victoria). The menu shows mainly middle eastern influences with some asian in the mix.  Just along the esplanade is the Frontbeach Cafe. The Lunch menu includes seafood with salads and a range of pastas. If a pub lunch is more to your liking the Torquay Hotel is around the corner from the foreshore in Bell St.

Anglesea is the next lunch option about 20 minutes drive from Torquay. Between the two towns is the famous Bell’s Beach so you should probably allow at least another 30 minutes for sight seeing. There are several cafes and restaurants open for lunch in the shopping strip, and a pub across the road. Furio’s Restaurant serves light dishes of meats, chicken and seafood and has a good list of wines by the glass.  Nearby the Anglesea Fish Shop offers excellent take away fish and chips. There are several spots overlooking the river and inlet to enjoy your catch.

Our last recommendation is a further 10 minutes drive along The Great Ocean Road to Airey’s Inlet.  A la Grecque is operated by the Kosta family, long admired for the style of cuisine they developed over many years in Lorne. The food is prepared with memories of the Mediterranean inspired by what is fresh on the day.  A la Grecque has been awarded one hat in The Age Good Food Guide for 2013.

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