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The Balcony – Sorrento

Sorrento’s landmark Continental Hotel has just launched a newly renovated and spacious bar, Balcony. The Conti, as regulars know it, is an institution on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and its premium crows-nest position offers striking views of Port Phillip Bay and the seaside town’s main street hub.

Owner Diana DiPietro has overseen the renovation project. ‘I’m really proud of what we’ve created with this space. It’s sophisticated yet inviting. It will be the perfect place to gather with friends on a warm summer night.’

Manager Allison Tann envisages the Balcony as a fabulous venue for a private party, corporate function or wedding. It is also available for cocktail events, barbecues and family-style ‘long table’ lunches and dinners.

Chef Roberto Capogreco has created a detailed and delicate tapas menu to complement the new space. Essentials sampled a fresh and flavoursome deconstructed prawn cocktail – just the thing for warm summer nights – and a lightly smoked maple Angus steak tartare with semi-cured egg yolk and porcini croute. It arrives dramatically cocooned within a smoke-filled pinot glass: lifting the lid releases a waft of sweet smokiness. It is possibly the best steak tartare we’ve tasted.

The drinks menu is equally impressive, with a good selection of Australian wines including some fine boutique bottles from the King Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Central Victoria. There’s a wide range of Australian beers and ciders and the cocktail list includes some welcome classics, including a Bellini and a refreshing Grapefruit Martini.

The adjoining lounge/bar is a welcome addition – here we noticed locals lounging on cool colonial-style daybeds, happily enjoying after-work drinks. Featuring a hand-painted ‘distressed’ wall fresco and leafy green soft furnishings balanced by crisp white ‘blowing in the breeze’ window sheers, the space is friendly and fresh – a little Russell Mulcahy/Bonnie Tyler theatrical, but we’re loving it.

Open Friday to Sunday noon-late (extended hours during summer)
1-21 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento, Victoria
Tel 03 5984 2201
www.continentalhotel.com.au