Aravina Estate Restaurant

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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

South West WA mini break– Margaret River

Xscape Cafe on Urbanspoon

Last month we enjoyed a well-earned break to the south west of Western Australia. Unlike previous wine tasting trips to “Margs”, this mini-break was much more child-friendly. Luckily for us, and Little Chef, children are well catered for at most places. We found a great place called “Xscape at the Cape Fun Park” (on caves Rd) in between Dunsbourgh and Busselton. There was everything there from wacky putt golf, to a wooden maze, train rides, bouncy castle and a multi-level playground. They stocked a large selection of delicious, locally made Millers ice cream and for the parents there was the fantastic Yavaha coffee!! Their Chai latte is a favourite of mine.

We stayed in the hamlet of Peppermint Grove Beach. It’s halfway between Busselton and Bunbury, near Capel. Peppy has no shops or even a café, but that adds to its charm. It’s so sleepy and peaceful. We’d wake up with the sun and head straight to the beach, at the end of our street.

We loved the beach there. It was great for LC, very calm and the beautiful waters of Geographe Bay were crystal clear. Chef tried his luck at some beach fishing and caught some Flounder and Yellowtail. We saw dolphins and even had a visit from a friendly sting ray. A little bit of paradise!