Our City Staycation at Holiday Inn Perth CBD

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I think the Holiday Inn has to be one of the best Perth hotels for a family stay in the city. Not only was the four and a half star hotel recently refurbished and is incredibly modern, it is also slap bang in the heart of the CBD, opposite the Central Park building on Hay Street, close to the pedestrian shopping malls, cafes and attractions.

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Chef, Little Chef and I were excited about our Holiday Inn staycation. I was there on assignment for Buggybuddys, Perth’s top kids website, who I also write for. We didn’t have time to travel anywhere for a break, so discovering our own city was a great alternative and we jumped at the opportunity to check out the Holiday Inn.

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We pulled our car up in the driveway at the side of the hotel, which is really convenient if you want to take advantage of their valet parking. We entered the lobby and were promptly checked in by the welcoming ladies at the front desk. Particular attention was paid to Little Chef, who was given an activity pack and told that there would be a special surprise if he completed the book, so he was totally on a mission to finish it!

Our Rooms

HolInnFamPic Credit: Holiday Inn Perth

We grabbed our overnight bags and electronic key and excitedly headed to our Family Room on the seventh floor. The Family Room features a massive king sized bed in the main area, which faces a large 48” flat-screen TV, perfect for lying in bed and watching a movie!

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There’s an adjoining separate bedroom (which we were stoked about!) with a further two single beds and a 32” flat-screen TV. There’s also a desk – where Little Chef quickly set to work on his activity book. It kept him entertained for ages!

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10 of The Best Hidden Coffee Spots in Perth’s CBD

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Where’s the best coffee in Perth’s CBD? You might have missed it! Down the city’s many laneways and arcades, you’ll find some hidden coffee spots that are not to be missed.

If you’re a street art fan like myself, and like a bit of culture with your caffeine, you will be able to spy some of Perth’s most vibrant works near some of these spots too. So follow the aroma of freshly ground beans and discover a favourite new coffee haunt today!

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Max + Sons

Head off the beaten track, down Rail Lane and you’ll find Max & Sons. Here, the friendly baristas are likely to remember your name after a few coffee runs. Their excellent coffee is a custom blend that is developed with Five Senses and the maple bacon and cream cheese bagels are not to be missed!

Find Max + Sons at 140 Perth, Rail Lane, Wellington St, Perth (behind The Globe).

More on Max + Sons here.IMG_8358

 

Uncle Joe’s Mess

At what first appears to be a King Street barber shop, head down a corridor and you’ll find Uncle Joe’s Mess, where they serve up their own “Joes Blend” roasted by Dimattina Coffee. At this cool little spot you can escape the bustling city streets and enjoy a chilled brunch with funky tunes.

Find Uncle Joe’s Mess at 76 King St, Perth.

More on Uncle Joe’s Mess here.

 

Standing Room Only

Standing Room Only Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

You get the feeling that at Standing Room Only the baristas are deadly serious about their coffee, which is outstanding and many rate as amongst the very best of Perth CBD’s coffee spots. There’s nothing else to lose their focus, no food or fancy smoothies, just good honest caw-fee.

Find Standing Room Only at Piccadilly Arcade, Perth.

More on Standing Room Only here.IMG_8230

 

Hopper Espresso

This popular little coffee shop in Shafto Lane, brews up a top house blend as well as offering four different single origin coffees. They even have a range of quality milks to choose from including local Banister Downs and Bonsoy. Their food offering is sure to tame those lunch time cravings too.

Find Hopper Espresso at 3A Shafto Lane, Perth.

More on Hopper Espresso here.

 

The Wolf Espresso

Wolf Espresso is found on Wolf Lane which is a mecca for vibrant murals by local and international street artists in the Perth CBD. Here you can indulge in a guilt free treat with your Veneziano coffee as there’s a focus on balanced and healthy food.

Find The Wolf Espresso at 800 Hay St, Perth.

More on The Wolf Espresso here.IMG_8416 Continue reading

A Weekend Stay at Seashells Mandurah

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Seashells Mandurah isn’t you average 4.5 star location… It’s a stunning beachside apartment retreat, which was our luxury base for our “Anytime Adventures” in the Peel region. Perfectly placed by the ocean, Seashells is seconds from the markets and cafes of Dolphin Quay and within walking distance of many of Mandurah’s main attractions.

As part of my collaboration with Buy West Eat Best and Peel Tourism, we were invited down to Mandurah for a weekend to experience what the Peel region has to offer a family of foodies. I was almost beside myself with excitement! Other than passing through Mandurah on the way to Margs (in the days before the Forrest Highway), I’d never stopped at the coastal city long enough to really explore what it offers.

The Peel Region – so close to home!

peelStaycations are becoming more and more popular with our busier lifestyles, tighter budgets and the realisation that WA has so much to offer locals. With a travel time of just over one hour, we were barely in the car long enough for Little Chef to ask “Are we there yet?”, before we arrived in sunny Mandurah.

Not only does the Peel region encompass Mandurah, but Jarrahdale and Serpentine to the north, Dwellingup and Boddington to the east and Waroona to the south. It’s a massive area with loads to see and do.

Staying at Seashells

Seashells is really well located next to the beach and also the popular Dolphin Quay, which is best compared to a mini Hillarys Boat Harbour. The friendly Seashells receptionist checked us in and handed us our room keys. As we headed up to the third floor, Little Chef practically ran down the hallway with his luggage he was so excited – and I wasn’t too far behind him!

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As we stepped into room 307 – a two bedroom Ocean View Apartment, we were greeted by the spacious, modern kitchen and beyond that a magnificent view over the ocean. Poor Chef and Little Chef were given STRICT instructions to leave their bags at the door and not to touch a thing, till I took photos! Haha

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There was also a wonderful surprise on the breakfast bar – a welcoming gift from the Mandurah & Peel Tourism Organisation of some excellent Peel wines. How lovely. And even better – they are all whites/rosé so Chef will keep his mitts of them!

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I’m looking forward to cracking these bottles of vino from Millbrook open, as well as a very tasty drop I’m familiar with – the Drakesbrook rosella, which is an excellent rosé.

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The spacious living area has a comfy lounge which overlooks the wrap around balcony.

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When you’re not gazing over the sea, the TV has some Foxtel channels as well as free to air. There’s also dining table for four and a desk. I really love the décor, it’s very beach chic and all the rooms have very vibrant artworks too.

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The kitchen has everything you’d need to cook up a feast, with an oven, fridge/freezer, dishwasher and more. We were definitely having the weekend off cooking, but it was handy to have the kitchen for putting together our breakfasts. It would be perfect for longer stays.

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There’s even a laundry hiding away behind some of the kitchen cupboards.

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Our ocean view bedroom was dominated by a king size bed and had plenty of storage space and a safe in the wardrobes.

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The spacious ensuite was well appointed with a deep spa bath and rainforest shower, as well as good quality toiletries.

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Little Chef was in his own bedroom which he was stoked about, a twin room, which also had its own bathroom with shower.

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There’s lots of other room features, we found these handy:

–        Free wifi

–        Dining setting on balcony

–        Nespresso coffee machine

–        movies on demand

–        docking stations

–        hairdryer

–        safe

–        reverse cycle air-conditioning

 

At Seashells Mandurah there’s also :

–        Free, secure parking

–        A stunning infinity pool, spa and loads of sun loungers

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–        Barbeque and outside dining area

–        A floodlit tennis court

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–        Easy access to the beach

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That pool… what a stunner. The heated pool has a shallow (40cm) paddling area at one end for kids, a spa and a view over the ocean. If our itinerary hadn’t been so full, I’d have happily lazed on a sun lounger with a girly novel while the boys swam in the pool. You really don’t need to travel far to get that relaxed holiday feeling.

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My Suggested Itinerary For a Stay in Mandurah & Peel

You could use a weekend in Mandurah to relax and get away from it all or get out and about and check out the Peel region. Here’s what I’d suggest you pack into your weekend in Mandurah:

FRIDAY

o   Take a cheeky afternoon off work and mosey on down to Seashells Mandurah, found on the beach, for a 2pm check in.

o   Pop your bags down and have a look around your beautifully appointed 4.5 star apartment, admiring the view from the balcony.

o   Then get your walking shoes on! Walk to Dolphin Quay (two minutes away) and over the bridge to Mandurah Boardwalk (an easy 10 minute stroll) for dolphin spotting with Mandurah Cruises on the estuary and canals – don’t forget your camera! Read more on our “Fish n Chip” lunch cruise here.

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o   Walk around Mandurah, have a coffee or Simmo’s ice cream in the foreshore park. Take the tourist fun train over the bridge to King Carnival and challenge your family to a game of Mini Golf – you might even get a hole in one like Little Chef did!

o   Head back to Seashells to freshen up, then enjoy a delish dinner. There are many dining options close by, my tip is to check out Flics Kitchen, where we had a very enjoyable dinner of share plates and scrumptious desserts. Read more on our tasty dinner at Flics Kitchen here.

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SATURDAY

o   Start your day with a hearty breakfast marina side at Café Moka, just a two minute walk from Seashells at Dolphin Quay. Check out these pancakes – demolished by Little Chef. Read more on our scrumptious brunch at Café Moka here.

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o   Then head out for the day to explore the Dwellingup area of the Peel region. For the thrill seeking, zip lining at the Trees Adventure obstacle course is a whole lot of fun for the whole family! Read more on our visit to Trees Adventure here.

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o   After all that swinging from the trees, Pinjarra Bakery is a great stop for a quick and tasty lunch. A top tip – eat your baked goodies in Caldwell Park, by the Murray River, where there’s a fantastic playground for kids. Read more on Pinjarra Bakery here.

o   Peel Zoo, which specialises in Australian native animals, is a must stop for animal lovers! There’s many opportunities to feed and touch furry, feathered and scaly animals throughout the boutique zoo. Read more on our visit to Peel Zoo here.

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o   Enjoy chilling in your comfortable apartment, build sandcastles on the beach and laze by the infinity pool at Seashells Mandurah. Don’t forget your bathers, the pool is heated!

o   Cook up a storm in your well equipped kitchen or check out one of the many dinner options within walking distance at Dolphin Quay, Mandurah Boardwalk and the town centre of Mandurah too.

SUNDAY

o   Enjoy a lazy morning in your Seashells apartment, a coffee from the Nespresso machine and breakfast on your balcony, before check out.

o   Shop up a storm and find something unique to remind you of your Mandurah getaway at the Dolphin Quay Markets.

o   If you need another caffeine fix, my pick is DPM Cafe on Mandurah Terrace. They claim to have the best coffee in Mandurah and we agree that it’s pretty darn good! The fab Frisky Deer, a homewares and coffee shop, is a stones throw from Seashells too.

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o   Drive back to Perth via historic hills village of Jarrahdale. Enjoy a long lunch at Millbrook Winery, where most of the tasty produce is picked fresh from their garden each day. Don’t forget to grab a few bottles of wine from their cellar door before heading home. Read more on our stunning lunch at Millbrook here.

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We genuinely loved our time at Seashells, it was immaculate and would happily stay at any of their WA retreats again. More on Seashells here.

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The three of us loved discovering Mandurah and the Peel Region and absolutely recommend that you check it out – be it for a day trip or extended stay. It’s always the way, when something is so close to home, you tend to overlook it. Mandurah and Peel offers loads for foodies, families and pretty much everyone else! Find out more on what the Peel region has to offer you here.

Thanks to Mandurah & Peel Tourism Organisation (MAPTO) we were guests of Seashells Mandurah as well as some of the abovementioned venues. Nothing is exaggerated or embellished. All words and opinions are my own.

Thank you to everyone for making our Mandurah weekend so magical! Amanda x

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P.S. If I’ve missed your favourite Mandurah or Peel spot – let me know in the comments below!

Peel Zoo, Pinjarra

IMG_7774As part of our weekend in Mandurah and the Peel region, Chef and I took Little Chef somewhere we knew that he would love – Peel Zoo. It’s found on the banks of the Murray River near Pinjarra. The boutique zoo specialises in Australian native animals and some farm animals too.

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On entry, we are given a bad of small pellets to feed some of the animals. One of the Zoo’s unique features are the ‘hands-on experience’ that is available to all guests. Children and adults can enjoy hand feeding animals, having a bird fly onto your shoulder, holding a slithery snake and more.

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The grounds of the zoo are lush and shady, making it a lovely spot to stroll around. Peel Zoo is home to over 100 species of birds and animals. We started off at the possum enclosures, they were all having an afternoon nap in their logs. We followed the map around, you can also scan the unique QR code on each of the Peel Zoo enclosures. You do this with your smartphone that will provide you with the name of the animal, as well as a Fact Sheet about each of the animals.

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We spotted some turkeys in the bushes roaming around. A sleepy Koala was munching away on some gum leaves in a tree. We then fed some friendly roos in the Kangaroo enclosure. Continue reading

Trees Adventure, Dwellingup

IMG_7654Now, maybe for the first time ever, I’m going to blog about something that doesn’t involve food. Well, there was a hot chocolate…Resized_20170514_101045.jpeg

As part of my collaboration with Buy West Eat Best for the WA Signature Dish Celebrity Cooking Competition, I’ve been exploring the “Anytime Adventures” that the Peel area has to offer. Peel isn’t just about the coast and Mandurah, it extends all the way east to Dwellingup, where Trees Adventure provides a tree top adventure obstacle courses at Lane Pool Reserve. Offering a variety of flying foxes and tricky challenges, the fun obstacle courses are suitable for the whole family!IMG_7616

When we arrived on a chilly morning I got to warm my hands on a complimentary hot chocolate (since it was Mothers Day!). There’s hot and cold drinks available from the kiosk as well as snacks.IMG_7659

Chef signed the forms and I was “photographer”, I’m not really much of an action woman! We arrived about thirty minutes prior to our allocated two hour session, to allow time for the boys got kitted out in their harnesses, gloves and helmets.IMG_7560

Next up was an introduction on how to use the equipment, including how to safely lock on and off the ropes with the clips. You’re always attached to the rope, which put my mind at rest that it was nice and safe for my boys!IMG_7561

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5 Top Foodie Spots in Mandurah & The Peel Region

Mandurah and the wider Peel area is home to great produce and some top foodie experiences. Relax by the water at a Mandurah café or restaurant and watch the dolphins swim by or head to the hills and enjoy a long lunch at a top winery. Here’s my pick of the top foodie spots in the Peel region for your Anytime Adventures:

Café Moka

IMG_7497Mandurah locals are very lucky to have the waterside Café Moka on their doorstep. Found at Dolphin Quay, the bustling café overlooks the marina, which is a lovely backdrop for a breakfast, lunch or coffee n cake. There’s a lot to choose from on the all day brekkie menu. Our picks are the flavoursome shashuka and the decedent pancake stack, complete with ginger bread and house made banana ice cream.

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Read more on our breakfast at Café Moka here.

Millbrook Winery

IMG_8063A lunch at Millbrook Winery is not to be missed. Found in historic Jarrahdale, in the Perth Hills, the winery is home to a wonderful restaurant. Head Chef, Guy Jeffreys’ fresh produce philosophy means that you’ll have a unique dining experience each time you visit. Most of their produce is grown onsite by the chefs, in the huge vegetable garden, where many unique varieties of veg is found. The exciting food coupled with excellent wines and a beautiful vista from the lakeside restaurant, will make for a memorable meal.

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Read more about our lunch at Millbrook Winery here.

Flics Kitchen

IMG_7446Flics Kitchen is found on the bustling Mandurah foreshore. The Head Chef and owner, Felicity Evans, has created a tastebud tempting modern share menu. Her wait staff are warm and helpful. The drinks offering is well curated with wines, local craft beers and more. We really enjoyed each of the dishes we tried, particularly the sticky n sweet, twice cooked pork belly with crisp puffed pork crackle, crunchy peanuts and a rich chilli and lime caramel. We’d recommend that you visit the popular Flics Kitchen if you’re in Mandurah too – they’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Read more on our dinner at Flics Kitchen here.

 

Pinjarra Bakery

IMG_1343Pinjarra Bakery is a good place stop for a quick n casual bite to eat. The bakery has won a bag full of awards and we love their sweet and savoury baked goodies. Dine in or takeaway and eat by the Murray River.

Read more on Pinjarra bakery here.

DPM Café

We stopped for our morning coffee fix at DPM on Mandurah Terrace (found next to Flics Kitchen), where they claim to serve the best coffee in Mandurah. The teeny tiny café has a cool vibe and there’s seating outside for sunny days, overlooking the foreshore. There’s also a small selection of fresh bagels, croissants, raw treats and other yummy take away foods. The Geisha coffee really hit the spot!

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Let me know in the comments below if there’s anywhere awesome I should try on my next trip to Mandurah and Peel.

Thanks to Mandurah & Peel Tourism Organisation (MAPTO) we were guests of Millbrook Winery, Flics Kitchen and Café Moka. Nothing is exaggerated or embellished. All words and opinions are my own.

Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale

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Millbrook Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Winery

I’ve been wistfully daydreaming for the best part of a decade that one day I’d enjoy a long lunch, glass of wine in hand, in the lakeside restaurant Millbrook Winery. To be fair, I don’t have a particularly good reason why I hadn’t made the trip to Jarrahdale, other than it’s at the opposite end of Perth to where I live. It’s not on the moon or even as far as Margaret River. So when I discovered that lunch at Millbrook was part of my research into the Peel region and it’s produce for Buy West Eat Best’s Signature Dish Competition, I was over the moon.IMG_8156

I’d been following Millbrook’s Head Chef Guy Jeffreys on Instagram, so I had an idea that fresh produce was a very important feature on their menu. He’s worked at some well renowned WA restaurants in the past, including Leeuwin Estate and David Coomer’s celebrated Star Anise. Not only is he Head Chef, but their head gardener too! More on that immense vegetable garden later…

Much to his disappointment, Chef was working, so I took my parents along for lunch at Millbrook on a sunny autumn day. Walking through the grounds, the leaves on the trees and vines were shades of red, orange and brown. It’s the sort of spot which really changes with the seasons. I hear Millbrook is also stunning in spring when the blossom is on the trees and their wisteria is blooming! IMG_8151

First off, we enjoyed an introduction to Millbrook at the cellar door with a wine tasting. These get very popular on weekends and a light menu, of cheese platters and the like, is offered to enjoy along with their wines by the lake. Picnic baskets are also available, I can’t think of a prettier setting to thrown down a rug.MIMG_7962

We tried some white and red varieties from Millbrook’s various vineyards around WA. As well as growing their own grapes on site, they require a cooler climate for other varieties, with drops from Margaret River, Pemberton and the Great Southern. My favourite of the wines I tried was the Millbrook Margaret River Vermentino, followed by their Shiraz blend.IMG_7996

The Food

The dining room is found upstairs, with panoramic views over the lake, jarrah forest, vineyards and manicured gardens. There’s a large stone fireplace on one wall, which must be wonderfully cosy on a chilly day in the Perth Hills.IMG_8009

The modern Australian menu changes regularly, depending on what is available from the garden. The food is filled with technique, imagination and passion. What you won’t find is overkill of fussy gels, soils and other Cheffyness – which is not needed when you have amazing fresh produce growing at your kitchen door. This is how good food should be, simple, exciting and delicious.

At the suggestion of our friendly waitress, we choose the 3 course choice for $75 per person, this also includes some sides. To start, we nibble on olives, warm bread and butter with a red wine salt. For entrée we share the kitchen’s choice, $42 for two people. This is a selection of dishes that’s made up from whatever is abundant in their garden each day. On this day it was three dishes – cured beef in lettuce cups with a fermented hot sauce mayo and tender squid with salsa and beans.IMG_8050

The real show stealer of the dishes was the bianco turnips, simply pulled from the veggie patch, washed and served with a creamy curds and whey and preserved lemon. We ate them root to leaf with our hands “bunny style” and absolutely relished the vibrant, fresh flavour. It says everything about Millbrook’s food philosophy – unfussy, flavoursome and fresh food. You don’t need to mess with food too much to create a memorable dish – it really starts and ends with outstanding local produce.IMG_8048

A entrée sized dish of pickles, charred octopus, chorizo and a safflower mayo ($23) was a perfect match for my glass of subtlety fruity Vermentino. If they don’t grow it themselves the Millbrook Chefs are on first name terms with their suppliers, like local pig farmer James Taylor, who they source their nitrate free chorizo from. It may not look pink like typical chorizo, but the greyish meat is packed with flavour. I’m glad it doesn’t come packed with preservatives and other nasties. The octopus is also delicious and it’s genuinely the most well cooked octopus I’ve ever had.IMG_8033

For main I bite the bullet and choose the Viognier braised rabbit risotto with bacon ($39). Having had pet bunnies as a child, I’ve struggled a bit with ordering rabbit dishes. With (a lot) of coaxing from Chef over the years, I recently plucked up the courage to give it a go and boy am I glad that I did. Generous morsels of Baldivis rabbit are laced throughout this creamy risotto, topped with shavings of parmesan. It’s a rustic, soul warming dish.IMG_8075

I have to admit, I was eying up the coffee rubbed brisket ($39), which sounded amazing. My Dad loved this dish and kindly let me try a bite, giving me serious food envy. The huge hunk of meat was cooked overnight making it moist and full of flavour. On the side was a mountain corn polenta (from corn grown in the garden), and a fresh snake bean salad. This dish was well paired with the Millbrook Estate Cabernets, which my parents agreed was a top drop of red. IMG_8063

My Mum chose the market fish of the day ($39), which was a Spangled Emperor from Broome. It was draped with the most enormous piece of broccolini. The stem was as thick as a tree trunk and easily the most flavoursome part of the vegetable. The moist fish was accompanied by a house made yogurt, Venezuelan Ají dulce chilli burnt butter and Manjimup roasted hazelnuts. These are a by-product of the truffle industry, as truffles are grown under hazelnut trees and another great example of reducing waste. IMG_8066

As well as all that, we enjoyed a generous side of potatoes and more garden fresh veg. To finish, my parents both enjoyed a light apple strudel ($16), with mascarpone parfait, shaved jujubes (an apple-like fruit) and a raisin syrup, made from grapes on the vineyard.IMG_8089

Scrumptious chocolate mousse cake ($16), with a white chocolate & ginger ice cream finished my lunch off perfectly. The candied macadamias were very moreish. IMG_8104

As well as having an abundance of rave-worthy wines to choose from, I really love how Millbrook offers some really interesting non-alcoholic drinks. I’m so bored of pre-mixed soft drinks and drinking water, after I’ve finished my glass of vino. Here there’s house made ginger spritzer, a Millbrook basil, cucumber & mint spritzer, Bannister Downs chocolate milk, Jarrahdale neccessiteas and more. I chose a refreshing seasonal fruit water kefir ($7) which on this day was made from figs.IMG_8083

The Garden

After our long lunch, Head Chef Guy Jeffreys took us for a tour of his veggie patch, which really belies the size of it. It’s quite immense, and absolutely thriving in it’s unique micro climate in the valley. Guy grows his vegetables from seeds that have been saved from the previous year’s crop, cultivating them by the moon. You can’t get much more “paddock-to-plate” than that! IMG_8119

Each day after service the chefs tend to the garden. The rows of veg are teaming with varieties of plants I’ve never heard of and are rarely, if ever, seen in Australia. If you want unique produce to work with, clearly the way is to grow it yourself. At this time of year you’re likely to see broccoli, kohlrabi, fennel, beans, rainbow chard, mustard greens, turnips, carrots, lettuce and much more.IMG_8131

Here Guy hands us green leaves, one similar to a sour sorrel, the other has the most punchy mustard flavours. The flavours from fresh veg are simply unbeatable. I’m most impressed and very interested to hear the stories behind the unique heirloom vegetables. And as well as been mindful of local produce, Guy also is careful of waste. There’s a “no waste” lunch, a selection of perishable items, on the menu for Mondays.IMG_8136

Beyond the garden there’s also an orchard, olive grove and bee hives. There’s not much on the menu at Millbrook that isn’t grown here.  We also got to say hi to the playful Lochie, Guy’s dog, who’s one lucky pooch getting to roam around this lovely part of the Perth Hills.IMG_8127

So after our tour, we stroll back up the gravel path to the winery, taking in that stunning building one more time. There’s so much to Millbrook. It’s more than just a pretty winery with a fancy restaurant. Their fresh produce philosophy means that you’ll have a unique dining experience each time you visit.

My lunch at Millbrook has in my all time top 5 meals, which includes Michelin starred spots in Europe. Do yourself a favour and don’t leave it as long as I did to book a table at Millbrook. It may well be the best lunch you’ve ever had!MIMG_8144

Millbrook Winery’s restaurant is open for lunch Thursday to Monday.

Find out more on Millbrook here.IMG_7978

Thanks to Mandurah & Peel Tourism Organisation (MAPTO) we were guests of Millbrook Winery and enjoyed a heavy discount from our bill. Nothing is exaggerated or embellished. All words and opinions are my own.