It’s been a big year! This week marks the first birthday of the hotel’s fine dining restaurant Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel. Now situated with uninterrupted views of the southern Grampians, the new location is providing guests with an immersive dining experience.
The Royal Mail Hotel is a celebration of food, wine, people and place and the new restaurant was designed with these four pillars in mind. Byrne Architects were brought on board to design a show-stopping space that connected these sensory experiences. With Executive Chef Robin Wickens’ creative input, the space came to life in October 2017 and since has provided an all-encompassing experience for guests.
Food & Wine
Recently – almost exactly a year after opening – Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel was awarded 2 Hats in the 2019 Good Food Guide Awards, along with Regional Wine List of the Year.
This award provided a great marker for what was a huge year for Robin and the team. Food and wine media have flocked, which has resulted in coverage in the likes of The Australian, Financial Review, Herald Sun, The Age, Good Weekend, Qantas and Delicious. Internationally, Chinese, German, Malaysian and British publications have visited, not to mention various influencers, bloggers, podcasters and online magazine contributors. More importantly, its guests who have loved their experience, with many diners returning multiple times. In fact, Wickens is now close to being booked out every Saturday night until the end of the year.
Absolute dedication to creating dozens of different menus over the past 12 months built on seasonality and locality is key. Our exclusive use of herbs, fruit and vegetables from our 1.2 acre organic kitchen garden, alongside our own raised beef and lamb and other local produce has been well recognised. Our sommeliers complete the dining experience with wine matches from the awarded collection, some of which is showcased in the walk through cellars in the restaurant.
Additionally, Executive Chef Robin Wickens and Head Chef Dave Sutherland appeared on Masterchef Australia in June. The episode involved two teams of two, flying by helicopter to the Royal Mail Hotel and learning two dishes per team by memory from Robin and Dave.
Masterchef Australia is televised in 180 countries around the world. It has placed the Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld and the Grampians on the televisions of millions on people.
People & Place
After travelling through the alluring Wickens entrance lounge, a step into the main dining room showcases two views – the people and the place.
Set like a stage at one end of the restaurant, the open kitchen allows guests to watch the inner workings of the kitchen. Guests are invited to meet the chefs inside the kitchen after their dining experience. Alternatively, guests who want to do one better can book the Chef’s Table, located inside the kitchen.
There is no shying away from the Royal Mail Hotel’s sense of place when Mount Sturgeon and Mount Abrupt are staring straight back at you from your table. To further commemorate Dunkeld, the Grampians and western Victoria, Byrne Architects incorporated local materials and elements into the design.
The floor and wall tiles are made from sandstone quarried in Dunkeld, custom cut specifically for Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel. Likewise, the dining tables are built from 50mm thick local sandstone and crafted by local stonemasons.
The ceiling and timber posts are a locally sourced Australian Hardwood called Blackbutt, custom built by local artisans. Similarly, the cellar passageway includes custom built rounded wine shelves made from Blackbutt and hand crafted by local artisans.
Nods to the extensive Royal Mail Hotel European wine collection are seen through the German dining chairs designed by Walter Knoll. As do the Lenticcia lights by Viabuzzuno imported from Italy and hand blown using Murano glass.
Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel is not just a restaurant, it is a destination dining experience that cloaks guests in the importance of provenance. It is a celebration of the simple things in life – food, wine, people and place. Have you experience Wickens yet? Book now.