Aravina Estate – Yallingyup

UntitledawAravina Estate Restaurant & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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!IMG_9810

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.IMG_9825

 

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.IMG_9830

 

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.IMG_9837

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.IMG_9842

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Brewhouse – Margaret River

img_9997Brewhouse Margaret River Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All this unseasonal wintery weather has had me thinking about our trip to Margaret River last year. We found a beaut new spot on a soggy old day, with a roaring fire, quality beer and hearty pub grub.img_9994

If there’s something Margs isn’t short of it’s a brewery. Brewhouse is found just on the outskirts of town, about an 8 minute walk from the Margaret River Tourist Information Centre, handy if you’re staying in the town itself. There’s a big beer garden, patio and sandy playground for the kids. img_9983

With the rain teaming down outside, I just had to have a hot chocolate to warm me up. We were lucky to get the best seat in the (brew)house – right next to the cosy roaring fire!img_9979

Chef, who loves a craft beer or three, was spoiled for choice at the bar. There’s something to please all beer lovers from your regular Aussie larger, an English golden ale, stout, pale ales, pilsner, IPA and more. Chef was impressed by Brewhouses’ German style Kolsch. img_9993

The food menu has a stack of choice. You can either share plates and choose several dishes from the “sharing is caring” menu or fly “hans solo” and keep your dish to yourself! Chef chose a pulled pork pizza, $22. The moist meat, with tangy house made BBQ sauce, onions and bocconcini cheese was a delicious combination.img_9985

Feeling like a pork dish too, I picked a very tasty sounding pork roll with chips from the special’s menu, $24. The roll was brimming with a generous chunk of farmhouse pork belly, sweet pear chutney, pan gravy and a fennel slaw. The pork belly, complete with crispy crackling, was as delicious as I’d hoped. I did find it a little difficult to eat without a knife and fork though.img_9991

In keeping with our piggy theme for lunch, Little Chef enjoyed a bacon pineapple and cheese pizza $12, from the “Young Ones” menu.img_9984

We found the food offering at Brewhouse is tasty and well priced. We’d absolutely go there again for a top notch pub meal and hopefully next time the weather is pleasant enough to chillax in their beer garden too!img_9982

 

Simmo’s Icecream – Dunsborough

UntitledsssSimmos Icecreamery & Cafe on Urbanspoon
This was our second visit to Simmo’s Ice creamery. It’s a few minutes south of the sea-side town of Dunsborough; set in lovely green and shady grounds. With a playground for the kids, a crazy golf course and… wait for it… an Ice cream Eating Emu!! No Joke. Watch your fingers!!
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IMG_9937We had;

The grandads in our group had Rum n Raisin in a cone (it was delicious I was told). Untitledrnr

Little Chef chose Bubble-gum. I had anticipated this from the last visit and dressed LC in a matching blue shirt! Haha Luckily, he didn’t drip much this time and remarked that it was “super tasty”. IMG_9926

The service at Simmo’s is super friendly. One of the lady’s in particular (I wish I knew her name), was absolutely lovely. She was very chatty and gave us a few tips of where to eat in the area. After giving her my order “Meringue, Blueberry & White choc” and “Banoffee Pie”. I asked her what her favourite flavour was; “Mascarpone Orange Swirl” which she popped a mini scoop of on the top. And OH. MY. GOODNESSSS The lovely lady was absolutely spot-on. I think I liked that flavour the best too!!Untitled3ic

Lyons Den – Yallingup Private Holiday Home

I was trying to find the perfect holiday home in Western Australia’s South Western region. There were a lot of people to please. I had my English Cousins visiting us. There were 6 of them; children, parents and grandparents. Then there was the 3 of us and my parents too. Luckily there are a lot of BIG houses in the Margaret River wine region!! I spent hours searching on the internet. I happened upon the website www.stays.com.au , which was invaluable. IMG_9582

Lyons Den has 6 Bedrooms. A King with spa en-suite, a double with shower en-suite, two further doubles, a twin bedroom and the kids bedroom with two bunks and a trundle. There is also another bathroom with shower and bath. It can easily accommodate about 15 people and 2 or 3 familys comfortably. The chef’s kitchen was given the tick of approval by Chef. It had a double sized fridge/freezer, huge breakfast bar, great stove and Nesspresso machine (which was a god-send after a few late nights!).There is also a large dining table and sofas galore!IMG_9584

The kids were kept entertained. As well as lots of books and toys in the room there was a fabulous playground and sandpit. Also outside overlooking Geographe Bay was the tennis court and large entertaining patio with BBQ.IMG_9580

Lyons Den is a short drive south of Busselton, down Caves Road. It’s only about 5 minutes from Yallingup too. Whilst we were there, we discovered the beautiful and historic Caves House, which is a fantastic pub with a huge decked outdoor area and manicured gardens. Though the ocean at Yallingup might be a bit rough for swimming, there is an absolutely fantastic playground by the beach for the kids.IMG_0112IMG_0106IMG_0126IMG_0320

On the second day at LD, I thought I’d see what was behind the garage door. I’d assumed it was just an empty double garage – but I found bikes, tennis equipment, scooters, footballs and a TABLE TENNIS TABLE!! We were all very excited and had a boys vs girls tournament that night – I’m pleased to say the girls won!

Oh and the spa bath was a hit too!

Though this post is obviously not about food, it was part of a food and wine holiday and I thought I’d share our experience in case any of you are looking at having a holiday with extended family. I’d never booked private accommodation online and I found it a very easy experience; from booking online to  Alison promptly answering my questions. I would love to stay at Lyons Den again one day. There is something at Lyons Den for everyone. I think it would be a lovely cosy house in winter too, with the wood fire roaring! (no pun intended!).

Aravina Estate Restaurant

Untitledaw

Aravina Estate Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

There was something very familiar about the Aravina Winery. I had a feeling of déjà vu as we drove down the vine-lined driveway. I discovered that it is the old “Amberley” estate, though now it’s been given a French Provincial/Hamptons style makeover; I barely recognised it from our Honeymoon. Rewind back to 2006 and Chef and I enjoyed a lovely meal there on the terrace – when I’d been the Chef’s Wife just a matter of days.IMG_9987

As well as the cellar door and restaurant there is also a shady playground for the kids, a café (for coffee and cake), a lovely gift shop and a small motor collection. I spotted a red Ferrari poking through the door and I think I ran towards it! (I’m a big F1 fan). IMG_9979

The grounds are stunning. We were seated on the terrace, overlooking the vines – what a view! Our waiter was excellent and answered any questions we had, without missing a beat.

UntitledaawOur only (very small) quibble was, that one of the people on our table was a gluten free vegetarian (that ate seafood). There weren’t many options for her so she asked if she could combine the scallop entrée and the side of lettuce to make a salad. This unfortunately got lost in translation and my cousin got the lovely scallop dish for entrée, followed with a bowl of lettuce for main. To be fair to Aravina, we never pointed it out to the wait staff to rectify it, it was just taken in good humour.

We all enjoyed our food. It was tasty, fresh and well presented. We had;

IMG_0020Seared WA scallops, Cauliflower puree, apple and radish salad  $22

IMG_0037Wagu Beef Burger, bacon, gruyere cheese, truffle mayo, pickles and fries $26

IMG_0040Pan Fried gnocchi, ricotta, zucchini, preserved lemon, mint and pine nuts  $26

IMG_004214hr braised lamb shoulder, char grilled  lamb chops, pumpkin and sage puree, green beans and tzatziki  $34 I had this – it was absolutely A*!! The lamb was delish, usually I wouldn’t nibble on the bones in public – but I just couldn’t resist! I didn’t want to leave a morsel.

IMG_9999The Aravina Estate is stunning, if you visit now you’ll enjoy it. But give it a few more months and it will be worth the wait. Internationally renowned Cape Lodge Chef, Tony Howell, is going to be leading the Aravina kitchen from early in the New Year. That will take the food to another level entirely. By then the terrace extension should be finished, as will the new function room. It’s about 10/15 mins drive south of Dunsbourgh. There is something for everyone here; Aravina is a must stop for your next trip to the Margaret River Region.

2014 /15 ENTERTAINMENT BOOK DISCOUNTS

* 2 for 1 mains with gold card

 

 

 

 

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Watershed Café (Margaret River)

Watershed Winery on Urbanspoon

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The watershed cellar door is stunning. They produce some really good quality wine. We’ve been a fan of their reds for some time. After tiring out Little Chef at the nearby hedged maze (A maze’n); we popped along for a wine tasting and then next door to the café for a casual bite to eat. The Café overlooks the beautiful vineyards and dam. There is also a restaurant at Watershed, which offers more of a modern Australian, fine dining style of food.

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The Watershed Cafe was very child friendly. There was an outdoor playground area, kids menu and a complimentary colour in package for kids. We both opted for the Wagu Burger – $22 (with cheese, onion jam, tomato, iceberg lettuce and beetroot). The Wagu paddy, with that unmistakeable full flavour, was made very thick. It was cooked till it was just a little pink in the middle – juicy!! It came with a side of fries and some tangy horseradish mayo. It was decadent, but simple and very tasty. It was a lovely setting and we couldn’t fault the service. The ladies in the cellar door were especially welcoming.

Please Note – Apologies for the lack of food pics, this trip was just before our grand blogging idea!!

*** The Watershed RESTAURANT(but not the café) is in the 2013/14 Entertainment Book***

Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery – Margaret River

Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery on Urbanspoon

It was a beautiful sunny day – PERFECT beer garden weather!! We arrived at Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery at the start of lunch service, as we heard it was a busy venue. We had no problems with wait times for our food or getting a good table.  Little Chef made a bee-line for the gigantic fenced playground, as soon as he spotted it! We grabbed a shady picnic bench, within meters of the slides, so we could watch LC as he played.

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Chef, (surprise surprise) opted for the beef burger ($25). It consisted of a fresh sourdough roll stuffed full of a good sized beef paddy, bacon, cheddar, tomato, lettuce, pickles and cheeky’s secret sauce. It came with a side of fries and aioli. Keeping it local, the paddy was Leeuwin grass fed beef and that was full of flavour and juicy.

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I, regretting that extra scoop of simmos ice-cream, chose the calamari salad ($25). This was packed full of fresh ingredients! The tender squid was crispy, coated in a light Cajun crumb. The salad was made up of watercress, bean shoots, cos lettuce, cucumber, Spanish onion, orange segments, avocado & cherry tomatoes. They were very generous with the squid and avocado. It was dressed with a sweet and sour honey, lime & saffron vinaigrette.

Little Chef had the cheeky plate ($12). We thought that it was great to have a choice other than the standard nuggets and chips etc. On the plate was a vegemite sandwich, yoghurt, apple slices, sultanas and a juice. He thought it was brilliant. Kids love to graze and pick – this was perfect.

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Chef enjoyed the beer, He chose a fresh and crisp Kiwi pilsner named “Hatseller”. For those wine drinkers and designated drivers, fear not! There is also a cellar door in the same building as cheeky monkey. Everyone is catered for. “Killerby Cellar Store” showcases their wines as well as lots of local gourmet produce including;

– cheeses from the Blue Cow Cheese Company

– Seasonal produce from Newton Bros orchards (Manjimup)

– Yahava coffee from Vasse

– Margaret River’s Berry Farm jams

– Frankland River olive oil

– Cambinata marinated yabbies and homemade dukkah

– Pukara Estate’s caramelised balsamic vinegar and mayonnaise

– Manjimup Truffle Company truffle products

Sure it was pub food, but it was GOOD. Everything tastes so fresh and wholesome in south west WA. We enjoyed Cheeky Monkey. Mostly, as our little monkey was so well catered for. All we had to do was sit, sip and admire the view across the dam.

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Open daily from 10am-6pm

 4259 Caves Road, Margaret River