Such gourmet delights off the beaten track
Late breakfasts. Long lunches. Easy dinners. Lazy meals with barely a care in the world. It’s summer holidays and going down south has never looked better.
The Margaret River region has it covered when it comes to eating out and it’s a sign of things to come that the Good Food Guide 2015 top chef, Aaron Carr, does not hail from a city restaurant. His unique cookery at Vasse Felix is better than ever and shows regional restaurants and cafes are keeping pace with the times.
“Dining rooms and kitchens at Vasse Felix, Leeuwin and Voyager have all undergone big refurbishments over the past year as wineries have ploughed massive investments into their restaurants because they realise good food is as important as good wine, ” Good Food Guide editor Rob Broadfield said. “That’s had a knock-on effect across the board and given smaller operators the confidence to move forward.”
Leeuwin still focuses on lunch during the week (dinner on Saturdays only), doing pared-back morning and afternoon teas daily in a lovely setting. But even off the beaten track the offering has never been better as Morries Anytime owners Anthony Janssen and Alex Brooks up the ante with renovations and a new menu at their beachfront White Elephant cafe.
Morries’ chef Rosie Griffiths is overseeing the line-up of dishes at both venues and working with White Elephant’s head chef Jason Stewart to step up the breakfast and lunch selections.
Highlights include a “brekkie burger” on a toasted milk bun with fried egg, crispy bacon, Swiss cheese, aioli and house-made smoked tomato relish, plus brioche French toast with orange panna cotta, blueberry compote, strawberries, maple syrup and hazelnut.
“It’s all about good food, good service and good people, ” Mr Brooks said.
“If you’re chasing something light in between meals, our Freo pickled occy dish with grilled local chorizo, marinated capsicum, parsley and fresh lemon will tide you over.”
So be daring and go off the beaten track. The offering in the region has never been better.
“There are benefits to being off the main drag, ” Goanna Cafe’s gallery manager Nicola Macklin said. “People can come down with their kids and their dogs and sit out under the trees or escape the heat inside. It’s very relaxed and we’re reintroducing our tasting share plate for lunch ($55 for two) that’s a great way to sample what’s on offer.”
Michelin-star trained owner- chefs Duncan Timmons and Tim Meikle met at La Trompette in London and do everything from scratch on a mod-Aus menu that changes with the seasons. Expect Asian and Moroccan flourishes to locally sourced ingredients, with vegetarian and gluten-free options.
At Harwoods Cottage, it’s morning tea served under the shade of a 150-year-old fig tree with homemade pies, pasties, sausage rolls and jams. Think lemon butter sponge stack, almond and custard tea cake and wild mulberry pie. But only on Saturday mornings in the 165-year-old heritage-listed buildings that made up the original Quindalup town site and have been restored by Norma Andrews over the past 14 years.
“It’s a wild two hours service, unless we sell out before noon” Mrs Andrews said.
“All ingredients are local, I bake everything myself and have my own chooks supplying eggs for cakes. The summer holidays are always busy.”
For Devonshire teas, why not try Basildene Manor, in Margaret River, where plump house-made scones are served with Berry Farm strawberry jam and double-thick cream for $15 a head? All washed down with a pot of tea, but one hour’s notice, please, because the scones are made fresh to order.
“When I’m not working, I love to get out to Arimia for lunch, ” Mr Carr said.
“It’s hidden away down a bush track and serves simple but well cooked food. Things have changed enormously since I moved down here 25 years ago. Nobody would have thought we’d be making kombucha and fermenting food.”
Eagle Bay Brewing Co is also on his list, as is Petra Olive Oil, in Yallingup, and the newly opened Meat People above the Pour House in Dunsborough.
“It’s about keeping things simple and well priced, ” Arimia’s Ann Spencer said. “We’ve just got a new menu for summer and have already had good feedback.”
Chef Evan Hayter has put together a selection of value-for- money dishes, including a couple of share plates, several wood-fired pizzas (weekends and public holidays only) and homemade sausage rolls for kids.
Expect house-smoked salmon, seared tuna with panko prawns, goat’s cheese tartlet and avocado mousse.
Make it a long lunch. Where else would you find mains averaging $23?
‘It’s all about good food, good service and good people.’
•Artezan Cafe, Dunsborough
•Cosy Corner Cafe, Torbay
•Petra Olive Oil Estate, Yallingup
•Mrs Jones Cafe, Denmark
•White Elephant Beach Cafe, Margaret River
•Bunkers Beach Cafe, Bunker Bay
•Goanna Cafe & Gallery, Quindalup
•Laundry 43, Busselton
•Arimia , Yallingup
•Olio Bello, Cowaramup
•Miki’s Open Kitchen, Margaret River
•Morries Anytime, Dunsborough
•Piari & Co, Dunsborough
•Swings Taphouse & Kitchen, Margaret River
•Toby’s Restaurant & Bar, Dunsborough
MORNING/ AFTERNOON TEA
•Basildene Manor, Margaret River (noon- 4pm, one-hour notice)
•Blue Ginger Fine Foods & Cafe, Margaret River
•Harwoods Cottage, Quindalup (10am- noon, Saturday only)
•Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River (10am-noon; 3-3.30/4pm)
•Yallingup Coffee, Dunsborough
© The West Australian
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