When I’m dreaming about my next break in Margs, images of leafy wineries, lush forests and the untouched, rugged beach terrain dance around in my head. The ocean is so popular here, though there aren’t too many spots where you can dine by the sea… which is what makes White Elephant Cafe in Gnarabup so darn popular! The ocean view dining spot in the Margaret River region enjoys stunning views over Gnarabup Beach and serves up healthy and hearty breakfasts, lunches and coffee n’ cake.
We were staying just 5 minutes away at the beautiful air bnb Retreat on Roxburgh. A big breakfast at White Elephant Cafe was in order, before a busy day of wine tastings! The beach side spot is incredibly popular, which is no surprise when you spot that view! The 2 car parks get packed out in Summer. We visited mid-week, and there were plenty of shaded outside tables, there’s also space indoors for when it gets a bit breezy.
The breakfast menu is served until 12 noon and includes bircher muesli, Spanish eggs, Freo sardines and more. Service is minimal but friendly, with orders taken at the window and drinks orders picked up via buzzer from the main serving counter. There’s a good range of coffee, tea, smoothies and juices.
I loved the smashed pumpkin on toasted sourdough ($19.50), with fresh avocado, feta, runny poached eggs and spiced pumpkin seeds. I don’t mind a veggie dish, but I couldn’t resist a side of bacon.
My Dad chose the brekkie burger ($14.50). It’s usually served on a fluffy toasted milk bun, though he opted for the gluten free option. Brimming with crisp bacon, runny egg, cheddar cheese, aioli and tangy tomato relish.
Here, the food is as delicious as the view. We really enjoyed our brunch and I would absolutely return to White Elephant Café.
2018 has been the most action packed year yet for the Chef’s Wife! It’s been 12 months full of many highlights. Like every year, I feel like I didn’t blog as much as I wanted, but life just gets in the way. I’m slowly feeling ok with that, but I’d love to write more often on dining, foodie events and travel.
My blog highlights of
Looking back, it was a busy old year! I was proud as punch to be ranked in the top 3 of Perth’s most popular and influential Food Review Blogs (source aussiefoodbloggers.com.au). The list is a fabulous way to discover more Perth Food Bloggers, including cooking-style blogs.
This year I have continued my monthly restaurant review for
the Post (the Western Suburbs local newspaper). I’m heading into my sixth year
of reviews and very proud to be a part of such a well written local newspaper.
I’ve been freelancing my little butt off! I also write about kid friendly places to visit and dine for Perth’s #1 Family Website Buggybuddys.
My blog highlight for 2018 was visiting the Gascoyne Food Festival in Carnarvon. I had three days in the winter sunshine packed with amazing WA produce, from touring the plantations with some of Perth & WA’s tops Chefs, to enjoying a lazy long table lunch and epic assado-style BBQ. It really struck home to me just how bloody amazing the fruit, veg and seafood is up in Carnarvon and that we need to support the hard working farmers by remembering to always “Buy West, Eat Best”.
For the City of Perth’s Eat Drink Perth food festival I checked out a vodka high tea, and Northbridge walking tour and loved getting stuck into “Let’s Thursday Like it’s Friday” with a cocktail walking tour of Perth city and tacos at Baby Mammoth.
I worked with City of Vincent this year to highlight the brilliant North Perth Café scene for Mothers Day. My own Mum and Little Chef joined me on a photoshoot – which was a first for me! Though it was far out of my comfort zone, I’m so happy that I was brave enough to give it a go. I loved the pics and discovering gems Satchmo and The Old Laundry.
Our beautiful city played host to some fantastic events this year. The Night Noodle Markets were excellent. I even had a chat with Marco Pierre White! My Brother in law, The Pastry Chef, used to work for him in London. Our favourite dining experience of 2018, has to be a tie. Billie H was a lunch to remember, as were our two epic lunches at the amazing Xanadu Winery in Margaret River.
I was lucky enough to head to Margs three times this year. I still have a few blogs to write from our stays at Binya Maya and Retreat on Roxburgh. That’s on my to do list for 2019 – as well as more travel. I was also really lucky to enjoy a few stay-cays in the metro area, with Crown Towers being cream of the crop! I relished every moment of a very special progressive dinner at the magical Crown last month.
My love for the Perth Hills continues with a few trips to gem La Fattoria and the new Naked Apple Cider House. There’s a few hills newbies I hope to try in the new year. I think this amazing part of Perth doesn’t get as much exposure as it should, so I’m more than happy to toot my horn about the Perth Hills at every opportunity. Which was why I was so excited to get involved with the Armadale Hill’s Araluen Avocado Festival recently.
My Favourite 2018
In 2018 we have eaten at many diverse cafes, bars,
restaurants and even food trucks. Here’s my favourite new Perth dining spots
for this year…
To be fair, some of these venues aren’t that old. With all
the hype of new venues, it’s important to support existing restaurants that are
doing a fantastic job too! Here are my favourite Perth dining spots I visited
Not only did 2018 hold many tasty new spots to try, it was the year that we said goodbye to lots of favourites – West @Ku De Ta, Basq, Hermosa… the list went on. I was so gobsmacked by the spectacular implosion of Ku De Ta, that I took a second to take stock and go through my blog, realising that since I started it in 2013, SO MANY of the spots we’d dined at had closed their doors – leading to my most popular post of the year – “32 Restaurants That Have Closed in Perth”. Fingers crossed 2019 is a much more successful year for Perth’s restaurateurs!
My background is in accounts, so I’m a total number nerd. I love
a stat and think its pretty nifty to see how my little blog has grown from year
to year. Here’s a few of my 2018 stats…
o 58 new
o Over 48,000 views of my blog posts
social media followers, growing by the day.
To all the restaurants, artisans and local companies that have contacted me in 2018 – thank you for taking the time to discover my blog. I get an incredible amount of emails and invites on a daily basis and unfortunately it would be impossible to attend all the events I’m invited to, and not drown in “mum guilt”.
Another reason I limit my invited/sponsored posts is that I want to keep my blog as interesting as possible. An authentic meal at a restaurant (where the wait staff have no idea that I’m a blogger) makes for the most interesting and “real” blogging experience. Saying that, an invite to a restaurant that I’ve not had chance to discover or would not have thought to go to, always mixes it up a bit and offers some unique experiences… like meeting renowned Chefs (like having high tea with Chef Anna Polivou!), hanging on stage at the Regal Theatre or cooking in the C Restaurant Kitchen.
Sure, it’s great getting a freebie, but as the saying goes
‘nothing really comes for free”. With each kind gift and invite, a lot of my
time and effort goes into creating posts to promote it. When I do collaborate
with a brand, I do like to keep it local and you know I’m bringing you
something I’m genuinely excited about.
This year had many personal highs and lows. Just like a
rollercoaster, it seemed like it was all over in the blink of an eye. Outside
of my blog and family life I love to get stuck into the Formula One season and
my favourite book series Outlander. And I managed to squeeze both in. I can’t
tell you how excited I am for Game of Thrones to be back on our screens in a
This year my little business – The Chef’s Wife Social Media
Management grew and grew. I love working from home and the flexibility that freelancing
gives me, especially with Little Chef. Specialising in the hospitality, family
and lifestyle industries. I work with cafes, hotels, restaurants, takeaways,
lifestyle products, family brands and more to create content for their own
blogs and social media platforms. Feel free to get in touch with any questions
for your business.
Chef had a crazy 9 weeks working at the Gold Coast
Commonwealth Games. He ran the Athlete’s Village Kitchen, which was open 24/7,
so he was very burnt out after that. Currently, he’s helping to establish a new
menu at the WACA, during their busy cricket season.
We were so excited to welcome a new addition to our house –
a beautiful Groodle pup – Ruby Lou (Yes, we named our dog after a potato!).
Ruby, or Roux for short, has fit in very well – particularly loving our coastal
coffee walkies along Burns Beach.
What’s to come in
What’s happening in 2019? It’s safe to say there will be
lots more food and travel – stay tuned to find out! I’m also hoping to catch up
on my backlog of 20+ unwritten posts. Just thinking about that makes me break
out into a sweat. In the last few months I’ve eaten at Bump in Burger, Fishbone
Wines, Yefski and many more.
Lastly and most importantly – to all my followers, thank you
very much for all your support! Every Facebook like, Instagram love and blog
comment is really appreciated. It makes writing what I love about so rewarding
Thank you very much for reading! I’m hoping 2019 is the best yet for us all. Wishing you health and happiness for 2019.
Are you looking for a home away from home in the Margaret River region? I’ve found a cracker! Retreat on Roxburgh is a wonderful holiday home, where you can find a cosy space to enjoy – relaxing on the fairy-lit deck with a glass of local wine, watching a movie upstairs in the TV room or curled up by the fire with a book. The Airbnb is also found in the perfect spot for exploring the Margaret River region.
Back in April I was doing it a bit tough. Chef had been away from home, running the Athletes Village kitchen at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games for a couple of months. It was definitely taking its toll on both Little Chef and me, being on our own for so long. Luckily, my wonderful parents whisked us away for a much needed break to Margaret River. We spent 4 blissful days at Retreat on Roxburgh.
The beautiful holiday rental was our home for a relaxing three nights. And we loved it so much we went back again recently. It has a secluded bushland feel, but still only 5 minutes’ drive from the convenience of Margaret River Town and the amazing local wineries.
The modern property features open plan living, two bedrooms with super comfy beds (sleeping up to 4 people) and stunning views of natural bushland and horse paddocks from every window. I particularly loved the cosy breakfast bar nook.
We were greeted by the wagging tail and friendly woof from Cooper, owner Annie’s friendly Dalmatian. Annie is very welcoming and lives in the Annex next door.
I was pleasantly surprised by the delicious breakfast basket that Annie left for us on the kitchen bench. It was packed with everything we could want for a breakfast or two – local eggs, avocado, a fresh loaf of bread, muesli, milk and butter – even some chocolate and lemons from her tree!
The gorgeous kitchen is well equipped with pretty much anything a Chef could need. If you’re not out eating like us, you’ll be able to cook up a storm at Retreat on Roxburgh. We did rustle up some tasty platers and breakfasts there. And of course there’s a BBQ on the deck for cooking in the great outdoors.
We loved the cosy mezzanine TV room upstairs, with a sofa you can lounge and sink into, perfect for watching a movie.
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, candlelit bubble bath with a glass of wine! The bathroom also features a heater and towel warmer – essential during those South West winters.
Another winter must is the wood fireplace, which is so cosy.
Outside, you’ll find a covered deck for alfresco dining, overlooking landscaped gardens, paddocks and bushland. It is a magical spot – especially when you switch on the fairy lights as the sun goes down.
The house is perfect for a family getaway with older kids, girly weekend or even a couple of couples (the king single beds can be configured into a queen). I wouldn’t take young children, mainly as there are a few steps inside and Annie’s property has a lot of her own beautiful ornaments around. 9 year old Little Chef was under strict instructions to not touch anything and thankfully there were no accidents. What Little Chef did love about the property was giving Cooper lots of pats and helping Annie lead her horses back into the stables. Annie was brilliant with him, and such a pleasure to chat with.
I loved getting up in the morning, breathing in the pristine country air, filled with notes of the sea and eucalyptus. Looking out over this peaceful paradise, where brilliant blue fairy wrens fly through the bushes and horses graze nearby, with a cuppa in my hand.
Though you might want a retreat to get away from the bright city lights and digital world, handy WiFi is available at Retreat on Roxburgh. I did try to switch off, but it is difficult in my line of work *wink*
Retreat on Roxburgh is so very close to some fantastic sightseeing spots… there’s many bushland walks and beaches to discover. The property is very close to Caves Road, making it a great base for wherever we were heading out for the day. It’s 5 minutes to Prevelly Beach and 5 minutes to Margaret River Town.
Where to Eat in the Area?
Here’s a few of my picks…
This time around, we enjoyed a lazy winery lunch at Xanadu, a long standing favourite of ours.
I was so happy to finally tick White Elephant off my list for breakfast, which was a good as the view. The spot at Gnarabup beach is just 5 minutes drive from Retreat on Roxburgh.
In the town, Brewhouse Margaret River, Burger Baby and Margaret River Bakery are also favourites of ours. There’s just never enough time to fit in all the restaurants, wineries and cafes I’d love to try! And if you want to put the kitchen to good use, we suggest you head to the Margaret River Markets on a Saturday morning for some local produce.
Hidden away in peaceful bushland, Retreat on Roxburgh feels a world away from the daily grind. We can see Annie has put a lot of love and thought into Retreat on Roxburgh. And it is immaculately clean. It has a real home away from home feel and offers so much value for money (from under $200 per night). The property has many living areas and wide open space to relax in. If you love horses, then you’ll really love it here. Book yourself a relaxing retreat – you’ll love it.
I visited the VERY FIRST and Perth’s only Avocado Festival at Araluen Botanic Park today! There’s lots of unique avocado food combinations created especially for this event from sauces and beers to ice pops and soap. I was pleasantly surprised with the foods I tried, everything was so creamy and smooth.
It’s on all weekend, so be sure to head to the Perth hills tomorrow for a Sunday Drive and check it out. Whether you love to eat the healthy and versatile fruit, use avocado oil in beauty products or learn how to grow the fruit trees in your own backyard, this festival is avo-solutely for you!
The two day event is held at the blooming lovely Araluen Botanic Park, in the amazing Perth Hills, just 35km from Perth’s CBD. Here’s what I discovered today at the Araluen Avocado Festival:
Avocado Packed Food
There’s a variety of food trucks and stalls that will please both sweet and savoury lovers. Tuck into treats like avocado pizza, frozen avocado yogurt pops and of course some green guacamole.
Canary Foods, who serve up cuisine from the Canary Islands, topped a tasty chicken, chorizo and lamb paella with their delicious avocado and coriander dressing.
I loved the Avocado Ice cream from SubZero Gelato.
I found a whole host of unique green drinks;
Avo and greens juice by the Farmers Wife, who is always found at the Kalamunda markets.
Thorny Devil (From Mandurah) are serving up their range of beers, including a special guacamole beer, with very subtle coriander and avocado flavours.
A smooth avocado Margarita cocktail by Crafted, the guys behind Lucky Chan’s and The Dutch Trading Co.
On the stage, I watched Perthonalities giving talks and holding cooking demos, there’s a Smashed Avo competition too!
ABC TV’s Verity James and Chef Vince Garreffa from Mondo Butchers cooked up a storm, while gardening guru Sue McDougall gave advice on growing both avocado and chili plants.
There’s so much you can do with the versatile avocado. There is lots of stalls to browse, packed with avocado health and beauty products, soaps, preserves, the latest avocado tools and gadgets (so you don’t stab yourself trying to remove the stone!).
Take home an avo tree! There’s a huge range of avocado and chilli plants, including hard-to-find varieties, which are available to purchase and grow yourself. And plenty of experts on hand to give you tips.
At the amphitheatre, you can “Guac ‘n’ Roll” to the excellent live music! Throw down a picnic rug and enjoy your food with some cool tunes and good vibes. There’s plenty to entertain the kids too, with an animal farm on Saturday and Storytelling on Sunday.
So, make sure you get along to enjoy some delicious Avocado at Araluen tomorrow, Sunday 25thof November!
My how time flies! I can’t believe it’s almost 5 years since my last long lunch at Bistro Guillaume – where modern and classical French cuisines collide beautifully. The Crown Perth restaurant is by celebrated Parisian Chef, Guillaume Brahimi. In his early career, he worked under legendary Chef Joël Robuchon (who has amassed an amazing 28 Michelin stars).
Bistro Guillaume is still one of the most breathtaking dining rooms in Perth. Mainly black and white, with a fresh and bright splash of green. From the bar, to the statement foyer sofa; the striking shade of green is used throughout – even down to the green bottle of Tabasco sauce on each table.
We were seated by the window, which overlooks the inviting Crown Metropol lagoon pool. This excited me, as part of our ultimate lunch deal was receiving a free pool pass!
At the bustling bistro, there are spaces for groups and intimate gatherings. There’s also a large balcony, where you can dine alfresco, overlooking the pool. We started with some freshly baked bread and butter – the perfect way to start any French meal! Gluten free bread is also available.
We had one of my favourite non alcoholic drops, a lemon Efferve’, a drink fit for a summery lunchtime. And of course there’s always room for a glass of wine too.
For entrée we had a tasty country style terrine, served with pickles, dijon mustard and grilled sourdough. It’s a wonderful peasant style dish.
I loved the organic steak tartare. The raw beef given even more flavour from cornichons, capers, shallot and a spicy tomato sauce. This gluten free dish was served with pomme gaufrette (crisp potatoes).
I was SO pleased with my choice of pork belly for main. The sous vide pork was tender and served on a mound of creamy mustard brussel sprouts, cabbage, and pickled apple. As a side note, when I ordered the waiter let me know they’d be no crackle, because of the way it’s cooked. While I love crackle, that was fine with me. I was really pleased the waiter had mentioned it, to manage my expectations. What a delicious dish!
The kingfish with cauliflower purée, shitake mushrooms, spinach and balsamic beurre noisette was expertly cooked.
Though we ordered from the $55 set menu, we are still able to also order sides from the main menu. We picked a winner with the sautéed greens, smothered is a garlic cream, anchovies and smoked almonds.
As we were dining on the $55, 2 course menu, we could have stopped there, but we thought we’d indulge a little further. A simple lemon tart (from the regular menu) was a hit.
I traded up to the 3 course $75 ultimate lunch with a decadent chocolate delice. This silky smooth dessert is served with macadamia ice cream and salted caramel.
We very much enjoyed our lunch at Bistro Guillaume and its relaxed and sophisticated vibe.
I was invited by Crown to experience the $55 Ultimate Lunch. We paid for our drinks, sides and desserts. All words and opinions are my own.
The Ultimate Lunch and Dinner menu is available at Silks, Modo Mio, Nobu, Rockpool and Bistro Guillaume until 25 November, Pool passes must be used by December 6th.
Perth’s only Avocado Festival is heading to Araluen Botanic Park this weekend – the 24th and 25th of November. If you LOVE smashing back some avocado, then Araluen Avocado Festival, a celebration of this healthy and versatile fruit, is avo-solutely for you!
Just this month, cooking extraordinaire Nigella Lawson praised West Australian avocados calling them “the most wonderful butter”. I totally agree with her. Besides in salads, I use my avo like butter on bread, crackers, toast and as a dip. As the Avocado Festival will show, this creamy and delicious fruit is even more versatile than you could ever imagine!
The two day event will be held at stunning Araluen Botanic Park, which is found in the amazing Perth Hills, located just 35km from Perth’s CBD. Here’s my preview of what you can expect to discover at the Araluen Avocado Festival:
Avocado Packed Food
A variety of food trucks and stalls will cover all your foodie needs – from every one’s favourites smashed avo and guacamole, to unique drinks like avocado beer, cocktails and cider and must try treats like avocado pizza, frozen avocado yogurt pops and avocado ice cream.
Pic Credit: Pash
On the stage, Perthonalities will be giving talks and cooking demos, and there’s a Smashed Avo competition too! ABC TV’s Verity James, butcher Vince Garreffa from Mondo Butchers and gardening guru Sue McDougall are amongst just some of the local avocado lovers sharing their passion for the yummy green stuff!
Broadcaster and gardening guru Sue McDougall. Pic Credit: Perth Hills Armadale
There’s so much you can do with the humble avocado. They’ll be lots of stalls to browse, packed with avocado health and beauty products, the latest avocado tools and gadgets, as well as a range of avocado and chilli plants, including hard-to-find varieties, that are available to purchase and grow yourself.
Pic Credit: Araluen Botanic Park
At the amphitheatre, you can “Guac ‘n’ Roll” to the live music! It’s a fab spot to take a picnic rug and enjoy your food with some cool tunes. There’s plenty to entertain the kids too, with an animal farm on Saturday and Storytelling on Sunday.
Venues in the Perth Hills (Armadale region) will be celebrating with special avocado-themed offers at selected restaurants, bars, and retreats throughout November. At the very aptly names Avocados Restaurant, on the Canning River, try avo Damper, avocado margaritas and avocado & pecan cake. Healthy drive through, “Bean Thru” is offering a great value chicken, avocado and quinoa salad, as well as avocado and blueberry smoothies.
Avo Margarita from Avocados. Pic Credit: Perth Hills Armadale
And while you’re at the Araluen Avocado Festival, why not make a day of it and see some of the City of Armadale other attractions – waterfalls, wineries, cideries and wildflowers. My pick is the delicious Naked Apple Cider House.
If you want to stay a little longer and explore the area, Avocado’s Accommodation is offering packages for the weekend of the festival which includes two entry tickets, an overnight stay and breakfast for two for just $130 (valued at $200).
We almost didn’t get the pleasure of eating in one of Perth’s finest dining rooms. The one hundred and twenty two year old Palace Hotel, which sits of the corner of St Georges Terrace and William Street, was set for demolition in 1972. Thankfully, after decades of serving as a bank, the grand old lady has been beautifully restored to its former glory and is now home to The Meat and Wine Co.
The high-end chain restaurant, hailing from South Africa, has a choice of two dining spots.
The bar area overlooking bustling William Street, is heaving with city workers on business lunches.
Chef and I are seated in the opulent “heritage dining room”, where the contemporary and traditional mingle beautifully, with its grand high ceiling, whisky bar and funky furniture.
The booths are covered with chunky knotted ropes that give a private, cosy feel to each table.
We’re handed menus with striking images of lions, leopards and rhinos – just a few subtle nods to the fact that we’re sitting in an African steakhouse. There’s no naff theming here.
As for the epic wine list, there’s not as many South African labels as I would have expected, with most of the wine list made up from local West Australian as well as South Australian drops. Rare, vintage and a very special selection of Penfolds wines are also on offer at a hefty price. I enjoy a fresh and fruity glass of Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.
The service is attentive, though still green, a few weeks into the venue opening its doors. Many menu components are double checked with the kitchen, as well a drink forgotten, but quickly rectified.
The menu is not in-your-face African. It includes boerewors and a spicy African chilli sauce, other than that, it’s all red-meat and sides with a few chicken and fish dishes added for good measure. We devour the tasting plate ($54), brimming with mildly spiced Szechuan calamari, halloumi, succulent pork belly and a bruschetta overflowing with fresh tomato.
A colossal 500g cut of Wagyu rump ($49), lives up to its marbling score of 6+. The deliciously tender piece of meat is basted, grilled medium rare and full of flavour – melting in the mouth like butter. Served with crunchy chips and a choice of sauces – Chef liberally pours a nicely reduced red wine jus over the steak.
I choose skewered Portuguese chicken ($32) which rains meaty juices onto a bowl of crunchy chips below. The incredibly tender peri peri spiced chicken thigh easily slides off the skewer and is nicely charred.
As with all upmarket steakhouses, at The Meat & Wine Co, side dishes are a must. This can turn lunch into an expensive meal for two. We share a posh mac and cheese ($12). Rigatoni and charred cauliflower is covered in a creamy two cheese sauce (American Monterey Jack and parmesan) and finished with a little truffle and panko crumb.
Our onion rings ($7) are more like crisp onion slices, with not a circle in sight, but delicious all the same. I also order a token healthy side of sautéed greens ($13), so our lunch isn’t solely a meat, wine and carb fest.
Squeezing in dessert, we enjoy a perfect crème brûlée ($13), topped with a patisserie chocolate meringue biscuit and moreish, crisp dehydrated mandarin.
The pretty pavlova ($13) with caramelised pineapple, sweet berries, chantilly cream, passionfruit coulis and baked meringue is a swoon-worthy dessert.
The Meat and Wine Co has hit the ground running with a stunning fit-out, attentive service and the well-cooked proteins are packed with punch. If you are mad about meat, you won’t be disappointed.
At a glance
■ The Meat & Wine Co
108 St Georges Terrace
Phone 6163 8880
■ Opening times
Sunday to Thursday 12pm -10pm
Friday to Saturday 12pm – Late
value for money 3
■ style – Steakhouse
■ wine – an extensive list. Many WA,
Interstate and International wines.
■ Chef – Nicole Finlay
■ Owner – Seagrass Boutique Hospitality Group
■ feel – Warm, classy heritage interior
■ wheelchair access – yes
Entree – $9 – $54
Mains – $25 – $79
Dessert – $13 – $49
■ all in all – Meat & Wine Co delivers
exactly what it says on the tin,
mouth-watering meats and fine wines –
all done exceedingly well. One for the carnivores!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rankin Cod was the market fish of the day, perfectly pan fried and accompanied by fennel, potato, tartare, herbs and lemon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Slate Café is found on the fringes of the Swan Valley in Bennett Springs. It’s a casual spot, predominately made out of shipping containers.
The café is very popular with mums, as it caters well for kids with it’s large outdoor area featuring a covered playroom, a nature play area, play equipment, cosy coupes and lots of grass where you can throw down a picnic rug and watch the kids while you sip on a hot coffee.
We visited on a chilly day. Luckily I’d dressed warmly as the café, though covered, is still very open. I’m what my Yorkshire friends would call “nesh”, in that I feel the cold really easily. God knows how I survived 10 pommie winters! Luckily a cup of coffee, a local Fiori roast, warmed me up.
The menu is a mix of brunch favourites and Vietnamese dishes. I enjoyed a pulled pork eggs benedict, with Asian flavours and nicely runny egg. There’s a more traditional ham eggs benny available too.
One of my friends ordered the spicy prawn omelette.
The kids menu has quite a few choices and from what I saw generous servings too. Not only is this café very child-friendly, Slate is dog-friendly too, with a fenced dog agility course next to the nature play area. Lots of fun for fur-babies!
Slate Café is very close by to Whiteman Park so it’s a good place to stop for a tasty feed on the way to the park.
Find Slate café at 12 Dulwich Street, Bennett Springs.
If you love to help an excellent cause, as well as enjoy a great cup of coffee, check out the brand new Esther Café in Kalamunda! There’s a lot to this little café, which overlooks leafy Haynes Street, next to the Vault Restaurant. As well as a great coffee spot, there’s a recycled clothing boutique and it also doubles as a training café.
The Esther program trains young women that have been through crisis situation and traumatic experiences like abuse and eating disorders, in Baristering and baking, helping them gain important skills and a certificate in Hospitality II.
Some of the tasty and wholesome fresh bakes you’ll find at Esther Café are hummingbird cake, chocolate beetroot cake, chocolate banana cake, the famous Esther brownie (GF) and much, much more.
We sat outside with our pup Ruby. She’s a 4 month old Groodle and full of energy, but thankfully, she behaved herself!
The Roma coffee, served in unique handmade cups, is so smooth and creamy. I’ll certainly be back for more.
Little Chef ordered a babychino, made with lots of love.
He also devoured a homemade beef sausage roll, it was huge!
I chose the fresh poke bowl ($14). The healthy bowl is brimming with free range chicken, organic brown rice, quinoa, roast pumpkin, feta, beetroot, avo, salad and more.
For little one’s there’s a small table with toys and colouring essentials.
I love that when people pop in for a cuppa and a bite to eat, they’re not only treating themselves, but helping a very worthy cause.
Find Esther Café at 23 Haynes Street, Kalamunda (Was previously located in Como)