Aravina Estate Restaurant


Aravina Estate Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


* 2 for 1 mains with gold card






ARIA – Circular Quay Sydney

ARIA – Circular Quay Sydney

Aria on Urbanspoon

On my final night in Sydney, we certainly saved the best for last. My little sis (The Singer) and I had a stunning dinner at ARIA, at Circular Quay. ARIA, run by renowned celebrity Chef Matt Moran, currently holds two Chef’s Hats. It sits right next to the Sydney Opera House – easily one of the best views in the world!

We were given a little tour first, including a peek inside the special Chefs Table. The private dining room is pretty much IN the kitchen! 2013-01-02 13.38.28

The singer and I were unbelievably lucky to have the best seat in the house – at a table right on the widow, overlooking the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Which proves that it’s not what you know, but WHO you know! I was totally excited that I was dining at the same place that countless A -listers and even my favourite actor, a certain Mr DiCaprio had dined at **squeal**.

We had the degustation menu. Our Sommelier literally took us through a journey round the world’s vineyards on each course. She was fantastic at explaining all about the wines and their features.

We were lucky to get a couple of extra courses included, all part of the special VIP service. We tried one of ARIAs signature dishes – the Duck Consume. The master stock was deep with flavour. I could have swum in it – that was one of the most delicious dishes I have ever had; definitely in my ALL TIME top 10. IMG_9424

Peking duck consommé with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms  ($36)

We had course after course, pork belly, lamb, scallops… IMG_6718IMG_4474

I was done before dessert, but managed to fit in the soufflé dish.IMG_7285

Then came a raspberry dessert cocktail – with deep-fried white chocolate.IMG_5101

That was not all.. we then had port and petits fours!! Never mind wearing a posh frock – I should have brought elastic pants!! I left very full and satisfied. I also got a signed Matt Moran cook book, so I was super stoked! And off we trotted into the night, walking it off in high heels…IMG_4280

ARIA is pretty much the only place that has defied my “VEIW=BEWARE” rule! Stunning, Exquisite food.

Sydney is the only (mainland) capital city that Chef hasn’t visited – He did Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane on his culinary competition adventures last year. I literally CANNOT WAIT till we can go over there together and eat, eat, eat!!

Le Jules Verne Restaurant (Eiffel Tower)

I was just reading in a trashy mag that Jenifer Aniston has been to a familiar Parisian place of ours, Le Jules Verne Restaurant, which is halfway up the Eiffel Tower. Apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger, Katherine Heigl and the diva herself Mariah Carey have also dined there – so I’m in great company!! This was also the late Princess Dianna’s favourite place to dine in Paris. I have been reminiscing, so I thought I’d share our experience…


Anyone who knows me would know that I love anything French; from the beautiful architecture, to the food, to the language (Ooo La La – Sexy!!). When Chef and I were on our working holiday in the UK, we popped across to Paris for a bit of sightseeing and French food. We navigated the Metro, had a coffee and croissant in a Parisian café, managed to offend a taxi driver with my bad David Ginola impression…. The highlight  of our trip was the Eiffel Tower- hands down. We ended up not only going up the Eiffel Tower, but dining on it. It was an experience! Not for all the right reasons though.


There were hundreds of tourists scuttling about the foot of the tower, stood in long queues to go up to the top. We had a private lift, up to the second floor of the tower. Travelling diagonally, uphill, in a teeny-tiny lift was fun! When we arrived in the dining room, the most spectacular view greeted us! I could barely take my eyes off of it. The Arc de Triomphe in one direction, the river Seine, the Champs Elysees in another and the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur atop a hill, in the far away Montmartre district.


Now this is a very classy establishment, with a Michelin Star, so one does expect a little snobbery. Our waiter was downright rude though, most probably as we clearly were bumbling non-French speaking twits. I did expect that on one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, they would have had a menu in English? No.

We ever so politely asked for a bit of help. The waiter then sped through the entire menu in 10 seconds. We didn’t have a clue what anything was. When I head “La Boeuf” I thought “Yay! Beef”, we’ll have some of that.

We had a Lobster & Carrot Terrine for Entrée, with a salmon mousse. It was very very rich. That was washed down with copious amounts of French Champagne.


Then came time for main course… The waiters came out carrying giant silver cloches. “There must be something very fancy under there” we thought. They were put in front of us and in union the domed lids were lifted off our plates. With all the theatre, I almost expected there to be a drum roll or a “TA DAH”. It was a bit of an anti-climax. The only thing on our large plate was a small fillet of beef. That was it. Our “Boeuf’ was to be cooked Medium rare. Chef’s came out BLUE. He sent it back, it came back some time later well done. It would have seemed that the grill chef had a bit of an attitude too!

Even after spending a small fortune on lunch, we treated ourselves to the Restaurants cookbook of their signature dishes. We had it signed by the then Head Chef (Alain Reix) too. Its a nice keepsake. I’d love to go back and dine there for dinner. After looking at their website recently it would seem that they cater for the non Frenchies now – their menu looked very appealing. The dining room is flooded by light during the day; by night it would be just as spectacular, with the glittering Parisian lights all around.


 So that all leads me to the age-old question… A dining-room with a view… beware? Regardless of the Boeuf disaster, we still look back at that experience very fondly – and with a lot of humour! It was one of those “once in a lifetime” moments. It was special just being on the Eiffel Tower.


NOTE – this trip was some years ago, so the pics are not the best quality (non digital!). It also made me giggle that back then it would have NEVER crossed my mind to take pics of the food! My how times (and camera phones) have changed us!