Hiding in plain sight on the ‘other side’ of the Mornington Peninsula is a collection of small towns where a clutch of new openings are redefining the food and drink offering in these parts. One such place is Merricks, just outside of which sits the startlingly modern black form of the Jackalope Hotel. Spreading out across a still-functioning vineyard, the hotel itself is a riot of sleek purpose and modern design, while the restaurants attached – the hatted Doot Doot Doot, with its arresting ceiling of metallic lightbulbs and seasonal five-course tasting menu, and the relaxed communal dining space of Rare Hare, serving up hearty roasts and expansive views of the surrounding countryside – are arguably the stars of the show. Come by car and you will have the means to scoot down the road to Pt. Leo Estate to try the beetroot pancakes conjured up by executive chef Phil Wood at Pt. Leo Restaurant, and take home a few bottles of the wine produced here.