Xanadu Margaret River

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Chef and I were wowed by our winery lunch at Xanadu earlier this year. The restaurant is a stunning setting for a long lunch – the perfect mix of classy and casual. The plates that came out of the kitchen were thoughtful, innovative and above all – delicious. Their Head Chef Melissa Kokoti knows exactly what to do with the amazing local produce on her doorstep, as well as growing a lot of her own vegetables and herbs onsite.

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I jumped at the change to dine there again, when we were recently invited back for an encore. It was brilliant timing as I was already planning on enjoying a break with my parents in the foodie’s paradise that is Margaret River. This time the weather was a little chilly, so we enjoyed the ambiance inside the stone and timber-clad restaurant.

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As well as the amazing food, I was looking forward to a glass or two of my all time favourite chardy (the Black label 2016 Xanadu Chardonnay). I was so excited to hear that just a few days earlier Xanadu had been awarded the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Melbourne Wine Show for their 2016 cabernet sauvignon. It’s regarded as being Australia’s top wine award, it’s been awarded to a WA winery only a handful of times.

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Xanadu Restaurant Manager Dexter, with the Jimmy Watson Trophy

We started off our lovely lunch with a glass of bubbles, from Xanadu’s sister winery Yarrabank. The sparkling Cuvee is made with French yeast and went down a treat. We looked over the menu and there are so many taste bud tempting dishes on there. The sashimi style ocean trout is a vibrant, flavour bomb of a dish. Plated beautifully with beetroot, black sesame, fish roe and lime, the fresh trout was silky smooth and absolutely delicious. I loved this entrée.

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My Dad made a bee-line for the moist smoked hock – mainly as it featured a bit of black pudding, a favourite of his. Plump broad beans, mint and apple made up this tasty dish which was finished with a garnish of thinly sliced crisp pig’s ears. That may sound a bit iffy, but they’re essentially the same as pork crackle and very moreish.

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The katalfi prawn dish was served in a deep, wide lipped bowl, which added to the drama of the striking whole prawns. The plump prawns are wrapped in a crisp pastry, which sit on a bead of smoked almonds, quinoa and pomegranate.

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The three of us were still gushing about our entrees when our mains arrived. I don’t think the Arkady lamb belly dish should ever leave the menu. Scrumptious rolled belly meat is so flavoursome. I love it. Served with parsnip, green olive, an almond vinaigrette and broccolini, I was so chuffed that I chose this dish.

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Rankin Cod was the market fish of the day, perfectly pan fried and accompanied by fennel, potato, tartare, herbs and lemon.

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There is so much finesse to the pretty venison dish. The game meat served in a crisp cigar along with beetroot, an oyster cream and bone marrow.

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Desert was a showstopper. Last time, I adored the strawberry panna cotta. This time a zingy lemon mousse, white chocolate, lemon balm, apple granita is served in a stemless wineglass… which was really quite apt, as after a few wines I was on the way to  feeling a bit legless myself! I love wine, but rarely have more than a glass or two in a sitting, as it does go to my head.

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My Mum also loved her mille-feuille of salted caramel, vanilla, praline, and dark chocolate sorbet. mille-feuille means “million layers” in French and refers to the puff pastry.

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Cheese goes so well with wine, so my Dad chose a creamy blue gorgonzola. The cheese, which was surprisingly sweet, was spread liberally on lavosh with nut and fruit pastes.
If the choice of a whole menu is just too much, Xanadu’s Chefs can create a degustation of their favourite dishes for $85 per person.

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The day we dined, Xanadu had been announced as being in the top 50 restaurants in Western Australia, by the WA Good Food Guide. Another very well deserved accolade for the popular winery restaurant. If you haven’t been to Xanadu yet to see what all the fuss is about, you really must book a table next time you’re in Margs – it’s simply superb.

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Find more info on Xanadu Margaret River on their website.

Big thanks to Dexter and his friendly front of house team, as well as Chef Mellissa and her talented Chefs, for making our Xanadu lunch so special. We’ll absolutely be back.

Millers Farm Cafe, Cowaramup

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Millers Ice Cream Farm Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cowaramup, also known affectionately as “Cow Town”, is a lovely spot in the Margaret River region. It’s no surprise that there are a lot of dairy cows in the area and Millers Farm Cafe is a great place to head for an ice cream scoop of two.

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The Ice Creamery is found on a beautiful dairy farm, about a 15min drive from Margaret River itself. The Millers Farm Café is found in a cute old cottage and has an assortment of hot and cold drinks, including milkshakes, frappes and yummy Yahava coffee. There’s sweet and savoury home baked scones, and of course, their famous ice cream.

There are so many flavours to choose from – then the choice of cup or cone. Or even the famous “Mega Moo”, tasting paddle with 8 scoops – perfect for sharing! There are dairy free options too.

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Little Chef made the tough decision of choosing just one of the 26 available flavours! He loved the choc fudge brownie… he’s not smiling as I’ve told him to wait to eat his ice-cream while I take a photo. Poor kid!

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Chef enjoyed his cone with two scoops of Apple pie flavoured ice cream.

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Inside the café there are also some lovely farm and cow-themed gifts to buy. As well as the scrumptious ice cream, there’s a large adventure playground, big lawns and a lovely bush setting. The spacious playground is set amongst wood chips and features lots of swings, slides, tunnels, monkey bars, and climbing frames.

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There are also two cows (not real!) which children are able to ‘milk’. When they pull on the rubber udders, water pours into a bucket below. It’s always a good thing to let the kids know where their food comes from and it’s a great photo opportunity too.

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Burger Baby, Margaret River

IMG_1756There’s a new burger joint in Margs! Burger Baby is found on Bussell Highway – right in the heart of town. The casual eatery has an eclectic, vintage vibe. At Burger Baby you can dine inside, where there’s lots of tables, as well as comfy sofas. The alfresco area, which overlooks the main street, looks pretty special at night with its fairy lights all lit up.

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The table service is small-town friendly. The chatty staff gave us helpful suggestions, as we decided which burgers to choose from the menu, which also features chicken burgers, pork belly burgers (yum!), lentil burgers and more.

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Chef chose the Everything Burger ($19) on a buttery brioche bun. As the name suggests, it’s a massive burger, brimming with beef, bacon, caramelised onion, tomato, greens, pickles, melted cheese and mayo. The 70% grass fed beef patties are finished with wagyu, just to add a little extra fat content. You know, fat = flavour after all.

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I chose the “everything burger” too. The gluten free bun was totally stuffed with so much tastiness. It’s a delicious burger, and the GF bun was one of the best I’ve had!

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Little Chef wolfed down a mini beef cheese burger ($9). There is also a mini chicken n cheese kid’s burger available. We shared a piping hot serve of chips. There are plenty of sides, like loaded chips, corn and salads available too.

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For families who love a game night there’s a pile of board games (Guess Who, Cluedo etc), as well as a pool table and foosball table. Little Chef found a few friends and had a great time playing foosball.

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Burger Baby’s fresh and tasty burgers are well worth checking out for a delicious and great value family meal in Margaret River town.

Find Burger Baby at 1/115 Bussell Highway, Margaret River, WA.

Xanadu, Margaret River

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Xanadu Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Our first visit to Xanadu came when I’d been Chef’s wife for all of a few days. Honeymooning in Margaret River, the Xanadu cellar door was on our must visit list and good job, as their 2005 Shiraz was a cracker. I think we bought a whole case! Fast forward a decade or so and we were back again, invited by the Xanadu team, and so glad to see their wines are as exceptional as ever.

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Driving down the sweeping vine-lined driveway, I have to admit I was singing ♪Xanaduuuu♪ the kitsch 1980’s hit from the Olivia Newton John movie of the same name. Right now, towards the end of summer, the lush vines are heaving with grapes.

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Xanadu is a kind of idyllic paradise, and well-cooked Margaret River produce coupled with top notch wines are certainly a match made in heaven.

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Xanadu is set in gorgeous surroundings, I totally got distracted by the hundreds of white butterflies fluttering over the rosemary bushes on our way in.

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Manicured lawns are a great spot to throw down a bean bag. A ski-lodge style dining room is equally as stunning, with its high ceilings, stunning artwork and stacked wine barrels. It was a glorious summer’s day, so we sat out on the patio.

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I’m a bit notorious for wanting to pinch Chef’s wine. Reluctantly, he let me sip his 2015 DJL Shiraz. It’s wonderfully smooth. He was safe though, as I’d picked a cracker of a Chardonnay. It’s a big call, but I’m confident to say that the 2016 Xanadu is my favourite chardy of all time! It’s not a surprise that Xanadu was awarded James Halliday’s Wine of the Year in 2014.

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There’s a few ways to dine at Xanadu. Your experience can be as formal or informal as you want it to be. Share a platter or a few small plates with a glass of wine on the lawns or try a little bit of everything in the “Xanadu Fest”, a chef’s choice degustation for $85pp. Chef and I enjoyed a three course “prix fixe”($60pp).

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The menu by their award winning Head Chef Melissa Kokoti features an abundance of fresh local produce. To start, we shared the Xanadu board, featuring a velvety smooth chicken liver parfait, meaty terrine, pickles and my favourite – crisp pork belly.

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Bina Maya Yallingup Escape

Bina Maya Yallingup Escape is a must for your next getaway in the Margaret River region. We were invited to stay in the shiny and new two bedroom villa, for a blissful two nights, by owners Sara and Tim. I had a ball looking around the luxury Adrian Zorzi built villa – let me show you…

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The luxe Bina Maya, which opened early in 2108, has a secluded bushland feel. Saying that, it’s only minutes from the conveniences of Dunsborough and Yallingup. Not to mention the amazing local wineries… 

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Offering a two bedroom “Villa” or four bedroom “Residence”, both spots at Bina Maya feature uninterrupted bushland views, open plan living, luxe bathrooms and stunning design features like a floating dining table, Italian leather sofas and big, comfy beds.

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Outside, you’ll find landscaped gardens and a deck for alfresco dining. Bina Maya is set in 7.5 acres of native bushland. It’s a magical place at dawn – Bina’s meaning is “light of the morning” and Maya means “our hut” in Aboriginal. There’s bush tracks to walk around the property where you’re likely to see kangaroos, and a creek flows in winter. The local roos love to nibble on the lawn, we spotted one with a joey at dusk. Little Chef was so excited!

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Once we’d settled in at our villa, I poured myself a glass of wine and found a spot to read by the window – I felt a million miles away from anywhere.

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A Foodie’s Paradise

The state of the art kitchen is well equipped with pretty much anything a Chef could need. Trust me – he checked out all the cupboards and draws! From a well-stocked pantry with basics like herbs, EVOO and flour, to an essential Nespresso machine and lots of utensils and appliances – you’ll be able to cook up a storm at Bina Maya.

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Chef loved cooking in the kitchen, what better way to make the most of the fantastic local produce. He threw together some easy “Posh Dawgs” with locally made Beef and Bootleg Brewery Stout sausages, Margaret River Kimchi and local cheese. And BBQ’d lamb cutlets with a beet and quinoa salad for me. So tasty!

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The stunning kitchen also has some cool features like a ultra-mod tap, that clicks out to be used like a hose in the sink. There’s even a dedicated wine fridge, to pop your wine bottles in, keeping them at the perfect drinking temperatures – red or white. And the practical laundry is cleverly hidden away behind cupboard doors. And of course there’s a BBQ on the deck for cooking in the great outdoors.

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Indulge

A retreat is the perfect time to focus on yourself and do those things you don’t have time to do at home – like take a long bubble bath with a glass of wine! The custom-made bath caddys are so handy – with spots for your wine glass, candles, even your iPad!

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Tech Savvy

Though you might want a retreat to get away from the bright city lights and digital world, handy WiFi is available at Bina Maya. There’s also a Sonos smart wireless speaker to stream your phone’s music playlist to. I had a bit of Oasis and 90s rock in the background while we enjoyed our dinner on the deck. Streaming services are also available to watch on the TVs. Perfect for binge-watching in the king-sized beds!

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Comfort

Sara really has thought of everything, no expense has been spared. From slipping in-between the indulgent organic cotton sheets, or wrapping yourself in a fluffy bathrobe, to underfloor heating in the luxury bathrooms – essential during those South West winters!

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Another winter must is their designer European Morso fireplace, which I bet will be so cosy. All the quality organic toiletries are locally sourced and contain no nasties. The Enliven botanical mint hand wash smells divine. I literally couldn’t stop smelling my hands!

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Yoga

Massage treatments or private yoga and Pilates sessions are available at Bina Maya. I can’t recommend Daphne from Solas enough. She had mountains of patience working with me, a yoga virgin, and I totally loved it.

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Last year I took time out to focus on my health. I wasn’t feeling great and came to the conclusion that a lot of it was attributed to gluten. Now that I’ve ditched the bread and pasta, I feel much better and moving into 2018 I’ve looked at ways in which I can feel even better by adding more exercise and movement into my daily life, which is largely spent chained to my laptop. This yoga lesson is a positive little step in this direction!

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And thank you Daphne for my natural Solas Essentials goodies. More on Solas here.

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Need Something a bit larger?

The neighbouring “Residence” was having the finishing touches put to it when we stayed at Bina Maya. If you think the Villa is breathtaking, just wait till you see this…

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The four bedroom, 2 bathroom residence features a huge open plan living area, one of the most stunning kitchens I have seen (imagine cooking in there!), which opens out to a large deck with day beds and huge entertaining area.

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The larger house is perfect for a family getaway, a group of couples or a girly weekend (many of the king beds can be split into singles) or even a small wedding.

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What’s Nearby?

Bina Maya is sooooo close to some fantastic spots… there’s pristine bushland and beaches (my favourite has to Meelup). The villa is just a few streets from Yallingup Woodfired Bread. Their bread comes hot out of the oven each afternoon. Head there about 4pm to pick up a fresh loaf, Little Chef loved their rustic fruit loaf.

One of my favourite wineries of all time Happs is close by. I’ve long been a fan of pretty much all their wines, their rosé and preservative free range in particular. Their Dry rosé is new to me and I loved it. Simmos Icecreamery is also just around the corner, where we headed for goofy golf and a scoop or two.

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Cape Naturalise Lighthouse, is a short drive away and a tour to the top of the lighthouse is definitely recommended! Want to indulge even more? I headed to the award winning Bodhi J Indjinup Spa Retreat for a relaxing massage, in a treatment room with a view!

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Where to Eat

In the Bina Maya handbook, Sara (a self-confessed foodie), has listed some great places to dine at in the local area, including newbie Yarri by acclaimed Chef Aaron Carr. Here’s a few of my picks…

Aravina Estate is the perfect all-rounder in the Dunsborough area. Great food, plus lush gardens, a mini motor museum, big playground, gift shop – oh and there’s wine too! This time around, we enjoyed a lazy winery lunch at Xanadu, a long standing favourite of ours (blog coming soon!). Though it’s at the southern end of the Margaret River region, it’s well worth a drive to.

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Not a wine lover? That’s OK! The south west has several spots where beer drinkers will enjoy. Eagle Bay Brewing Co is a short drive away and has good food too.  And if you want to put that beautiful Bina Maya kitchen to good use, we suggest you head into Dunsborough and grab some local provisions from Merchant & Maker. We got Kimchi, gourmet salad, and more! The neighbouring Dunsborough butcher is also excellent.

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Hidden away in peaceful bushland, the Scandi-chic Bina Maya villa feels a world away from the daily grind. We could see a lot of love and thought has been put into Bina Maya by Sara and Tim, to make sure each and every guest finds their happy place here (mine was sitting at the window nook).

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Bina Maya is truly stunning. Book yourself a relaxing retreat there – you’ll love it.

Find out more on the Bina Maya website.

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And a special mention to B Directory, who arranged this amazing weekend for us. They’re a local Perth company who bring West Aussie businesses and bloggers together.

Thanks Elsa and Kristy! X

The Guide to Truffle Kerfuffle 2017

The days are getting cooler and it’s heading towards that time of year again… the Truffle Kerfuffle!1

The festival in Manjimup is held on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th of June. You can feast on truffle inspired dishes, drink local wine and meet those beautiful truffle dogs – all in the stunning setting around Fonty’s Pool.unspecifiedIn the Truffle Tent there’s cooking demos and panel discussions.4 Continue reading

Margaret River Bakery

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

We’ve often stopped by Margaret River Bakery for a early morning pie. I can tell you that their buttery pastry and hearty fillings really help with winery/brewery induced hangovers! We’d heard great things about their breakfasts, so we stopped by for a more substantial bite to eat.

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It’s not your typical, sterile shop-like bakery. Margaret River Bakery is eclectic. The furniture and crockery are completely mis-matched. The café has a bustling atmosphere with a real mix of customers too. There are lots of freshly baked treats and breads available, as well as good coffee. It wasn’t particularly busy when we went, though I had to ask twice to get the previous customer’s dirty plates and glasses moved, which were still sitting on our table when our food arrived (see below pic).IMG_0013

Little Chef, with his plate barely fitting on the full table, devoured his fresh croissant that was filled with gooey cheese and good quality ham. Chef loved his brekkie burger, brimming with crisp bacon, runny egg, Swiss cheese, relish and rocket. It also came with a bottle of fresh juice. IMG_0019

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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