Chef and I love nothing more than a delicious meal over a glass of wine when we dine in Margaret River, though we don’t always feel comfortable taking seven year old Little Chef along to some of the fancy winery restaurants. So for us, Aravina ticks all the boxes. It is a classy, but laid back winery with great food and wine, plenty of things to do and see and best of all its family friendly!
On our break to Margs last year, we visited Aravina. We drove down the sweeping driveway, past the many rows of vines, parking near the lush gardens. It was the third time we’d visited. The first being a decade earlier, on our honeymoon. It was known as the Amberley Estate and their Chenin Blanc was my favourite tipple. Aravina has a French provincial style cellar door and is set in gorgeous surroundings, with lush plants and huge lawns for the kids to run about on. The dining room is equally as stunning.
Aravina’s restaurant is a great spot for a lazy lunch. We’d been here before, but not since their well renowned Executive Chef Ben Day took over the kitchen along with his team. Chef Ben is known as a bit of a forager and gather and I was excited to see which interesting local ingredients we’d get to try. On his menu, only the highest quality local produce is used, with a lot of it grown onsite. We picked a 2014 ‘Single Vineyard’ Shiraz , $12per glass to enjoy with our lunch. It was wonderfully smooth.
Chef and I enjoyed two courses from the set menu for $60 each (or $70 for three). The Aravina menu changes regularly, so these dishes won’t be available now, but you can see how beautifully plated they are. Chef chose the tender Blue Ridge marron with marron dashi, which is a Japanese style soup. It’s served with fermented celeriac and foraged mushrooms.
I adored the crispy lamb pastilla, which is a little like a northern African spring roll. It was brimming with moist lamb and accompanied by a charred eggplant salad, date & rose puree and dollops of hung yoghurt.
For main, Chef enjoyed the slow cooked beef cheek, 16-hour braised cabbage, Jerusalem artichoke and star anise. It was a hearty winter’s dish and the beef check had a deliciously deep flavour.
I chose the market fresh fish, served on a bed of tender Geographe Bay squid, with butternut pumpkin, seaweed butter and bottarga, a cured fish row.
No knowing what to expect in terms of portion size, we also order a side of market greens sautéed with hazelnuts, cultured butter, $12. They were very tasty beans, with just that right amount of crunch. Next time I think we’d skip sides though, as neither of us had room for desert!
There is a dedicated children’s menu. Little Chef chose the crispy fish burger, $16. He enjoyed the tasty piece of fresh fish, which had been panko crumbed and served in a soft brioche bun. It came with a generous portion of fries and ketchup too. He wasn’t too keen on the bitter “frilly” lettuce, but did enjoy the home made pickles on the burger. It sure is a fancy kid’s burger!
After lunch, we headed to the playground by the dam. There’s lots of fun equipment to keep the kids entertained; swings, slides, climbing equipment, a silly mirror and more. You’ll also be able to spot a few things from lunch during a wander around Aravina’s veggie garden. Little Chef saw just where his fresh frilly lettuce came from!
I love cars. F1 is actually my biggest obsession – not food! Both big and little rev heads will appreciate Aravina’s shiny car collection. In the car gallery there’s an ever changing display of modern and vintage Porsche, Holden, Lamborghinis, Ford, Mercedes, Ferraris to name a few. There’s also a gift shop selling beautiful French inspired homewares.
Aravina is a must stop winery for families in the Margaret River region. It’s quite easy to spend a few hours here, enjoying great food and exploring the stunning grounds.