Thursday, December 07, 2006

Margaret River

So we finally did the Margaret River thing 'properly' for our 10th Anniversary (!). We were only there for 4 days but had a great - if expensive - time.

Basically it was a foodie/wine buying trip and we got around as much as we could in our time there.

Wouldn't claim that we know much about the subtle aspects of the region but a few highlights (and some times not so) included the following:

(8th, Lunch) Xanadu. We had a (VERY) late lunch here on the day we arrived. The kitchen was just about to close but they still accommodated us which was much appreciated. Considering I was about to chew my arm off it was REALLY appreciated. I had the salted duck breast as an entree and Elisa the Mushroom stack. Both were really nice, beautifully presented and the duck was exceptionally delicate. I always have this feeling that I should eat as much duck as possible before the Bird Flu hits.

(8th, Dinner) 'Home' @ Gilgara. On the way down we'd visited Carine Glades and got some nice cheeses, artichokes, octopus, olives, etc from the Deli there. We'd cracked open an old-ish Paul Conti Shiraz (something starting with M) which in hindsight might have been a bit past it.

(9th, Lunch) Voyager Estate. As we've done on most of our trips we try to get into places at the start of service (noon) so that we can almost have the place to ourselves. We're not big fans of lots of noise and crowds so by the time we've finished the place is normally hitting stride. Got given a really nice table in the corner with 'comfy' chairs. Waitress was chatty but in a good way. Nice glass of (red) wine with the food but the name escapes me. Was around $40 on the restaurant menu and a bit cheaper at the cellar door. Food was nice although I honestly can't remember what I ate which typically is not a good sign. Elisa had a seafood dish with marron, prawns and scallops which was excellent.

(9th, Dinner) Spag Bowl in Town. Was our cheapie night. All a bit rough around the edges and one waiter got fired when we were there (!) I had Venison Fillet which honestly was fantastic. It's one of those things that you can't really cock up as long as the meat is fresh and you don't overcook it. More about Venison later!

(10th, Lunch) Driftwood. Also a bit rough around the edges as appearances go and one woman decided she's rearrange all the tables by dragging them (on a tile floor!) around. All a bit like fingernails on a blackboard and not the greatest atmosphere because of it. Food on the other hand was really good and very well presented. I had duck again which was just about right - big duck fan!

(10th, Dinner) VAT 107. We had big hopes for this place as the menu sounded spot on. Again, first in so place to ourselves. One of the staff was a bit energetic and made a big deal about dramatic exits and entries as he went the restaurant to the bar next door. We'd taken along a bottle of Hay Shed's Cabernet Franc (also, more later) and can recommend pretty much everything we ate. The ribeye was a little bit 'overgrilled' and thus bitter but besides that faultless. Got a bit loud by the time we left.

(11th, Lunch) Flutes. We'd heard really good things about this place. We had a table overlooking the dam/lake. Food was nice although the medallions of venison were a bit tough. Very relaxing.

(11th, Dinner) 'Home' @ Gilgara. We'd gone to Margaret Riviera the day before and bought some of their variations on goats cheese, caper berries, sundried tomatoes, etc. 'Very nice' as Borat would say.

(12th, Breakfast) Cullens. Not really breakfast, just a piece of cake each of a few coffees. Seemed nice enough and the menu sounded worth the effort.

(12th, Dinner) 'Home' @ 'Home'. We'd bought some Venison at MR Venison on the way home and I cooked up a fillet that night. Was absolutely perfectly cooked (if I do say so!), very juicy and SSSOOOOO soft. One fillet was a bit much for the two of us but we survived! Method was fillet halved with 2-3 each side in a hot pan, then pan and all in a 200C oven for 7. Rested for 10. Yum Yum!

In general, we found that when you went to wineries between 10am and 11am in the morning (or later in the afternoon) all the other people were still struggling to get out of bed or still eating their 'hearty' breakfasts. It meant we actually got to talk to the winemakers and spend more time. Some of the wineries get so busy that it quite literally looks like a night club which is not our scene at all.

Highlights on the Winery Trail were Three Hills/Happs, Brown Hill, Cullens, Hay Shed, Xanadu & Thompson. Blue Ginger and Providore were also well worth the visit.

Could write much more but as no-one's probably reading this I might save my breath.... sigh!


vanessa said...

actually i read it...i am currently combing thru entries of margaret river on blogs.

thanks for the write up :)

zebra factory said...

someone's there? OMG! For the record, had lamb rack (rack of lamb?) at Voyager which was quite ok in hindsight. Must have been jealous of Elisa's plate!