Since opening in 2010, Counting House has focused on elevating the area's fine-‐dining scene. The restaurant, is housed inside an historic, Swiss-chalet-style building on the promenade overlooking the bay, combines the Peninsula's best ingredients and traditions with meticulous and decadent French cooking preparations.
Max Griffin and Gavin Ong own Counting House, and both have extensive backgrounds in the hospitality industry. Max developed his skills whilst working in restaurants in Boston and Rhode Island, and he also currently owns ‘Bar Humbug’ in Melbourne. When he moved to the Mornington Peninsula and teamed up with Gavin, he finally fulfilled his dream of “owning a restaurant by the sea.”
Gavin is classically trained and has experience working alongside high‐profile chefs. For instance, he worked under British celebrity chef, Marco Pierre White, at London’s Quo Vadis, a restaurant known for serving British haute cuisine. Whilst there, Gavin also worked alongside celebrity chef, Curtis Stone, and chef and author, Shannon Bennett.
After taking ownership of the historic, 100-year‐old building in Mornington, Max and Gavin began a complete renovation, with design assistance from Leonard Ramsay. The building was originally a state savings bank, hence the name Counting House, and its dining room proudly pays homage to both this local history and French provincial style. You’ll find chairs made from French oak wine barrels, upholstered booths with the iconic black and white stripes, and the original building’s fireplace, pressed metal ceilings, and bank vault, which has been converted into a wine cellar. The décor also includes an ANZ Bank teller desk repurposed from a Melbourne location for a bar, and, if you keep an eye out, you’ll spot the restaurant’s emblem, the silhouette of a blackbird, snuck throughout the room.
On the ever‐changing, seasonal menu, expect to find such dishes as Pan Seared Sea scallops, served with a wild mushroom duxelle, baby carrots, and honey mustard; Scotch Fillet, a traditional rib eye steak served with frites and bearnaise sauce; Roasted duck breast and confit leg with a mushroom fricassee. Gavin’s signature dish is Coq au Vin, and he aims to serve it in its most traditional and exquisite form.
The true secret behind many of Counting House’s dishes, as Gavin will tell you, is using only fresh, seasonal ingredients. The restaurant sources many of its fruits and vegetables from Simply Fresh Fruit, a Mornington‐based gourmet retailer that works with farms throughout Victoria. The restaurant also works with Gamekeepers and Prime Cut Meat purveyors.
Brendan Hayes, who oversees the front of house and wine list, said, “At Counting House, we aim to not only to provide delectable food, but also professional, yet unpretentious, service.” Brendan also has extensive hospitality experience, having worked in restaurants in England, Austria, USA and the Caribbean, and he knows the importance of friendly and efficient service.
With all of this worldly influence, Counting House stands out as one of the preeminent fine-dining establishments on the Mornington Peninsula. Counting House is fully licensed, and it offers a comprehensive wine list. The list showcases local wineries, but you’ll find a large selection of Australian and French wines, too.