by Mei Leong
We had lunch at Leeuwin Estate quite some time ago but I vividly remember it was wonderfully quiet. The lack of crowds and the foggy winter vineyards made pleasurable travelling in the dead of winter, even with the cold and rain. Inside the estate, a log fire was roaring and the generous wine tastings made everything extra cosy.
Waiting for the restaurant to open, we whiled away time in the cellar’s art gallery. Oak barrels hibernate next to artwork commissioned specially for the Leeuwin Art Series wine labels. The originals are displayed for visitors to wander through and appreciate. (There are also guided tours.) Whoever is the curator has an eclectic but great taste, ranging from abstracts to Aboriginal art (I especially love the one with lots of cows!).
Anyway, the lunch was rather fabulous. I won’t go into much detail about the food because the menu has doubtlessly changed by now. This will be more of a photo log… One thing that stood out was the surprisingly large serving sizes for the style and quality of food.
Lunch is served with a view over the famous Leeuwin lawn, surrounded by a mesmerizingly tall forest. Seated at narrow wood log tables, you get the feeling the art downstairs has transcended into the dining room. The food is local, sophisticated and focused in flavour, with delicious results.
Charcuterie plate of pork rillettes, sopressa, triple cream cheese, pate and cornichons.
This was a delicious rendition of a charcuterie plate. Surprisingly, it was fairly generous (enough for two!) compared to what you’d get in Perth. The sopressa was divine! Chunky and speckled with fat and aromatic spices, you could smell the flavour, let alone taste it. The pate was smooth as silk – swoon worthy against the butterfat. Last but not least was the Old Telegraph triple cream. Triple cream anything is going to be good – I’ve started looking for this cheese in the shops and I’m lactose intolerant!
Smoky bacon and acidic sauce against the creamy brine of an oyster will remain an elusive combination for me. But these oysters were quite good as kilpatricks can be.
Rangers Valley grain fed scotch fillet with potato gratin and asparagus
Blame the only lens I had with me – I could not get a good shot of the steak to save my life! The steak was cooked to perfection and K not only got one steak, but two, maximising the scotch fillet’s caramelised marbled, fatty bits.
Something you should always eat (when available) down south is asparagus. Close to the source, the Margaret River region is privy to the freshest, fattest spears. We had a side dish of juicy asparagus, basted with truffled butterr – woohooo.
Grilled marron with citrus sauce and salmon roe.
I’m not sure which was better, the marron or the sauce, but this dish was the highlight of lunch. (Yes, even after that charcuterie plate.) Clean tasting against the pops of salmon roe, the marron slathered in buttery citrus sauce pulled out of its shell cleanly. By the end, I was pulling it apart, searching for hidden bits of flesh to smear against the sauce.
Baked alaska with a centre of coffee ice cream
Needless to say, baked alaskas can never do any wrong.
Lunch at the Leeuwin Estate in spring would be glorious – nab a table on the balcony beneath the pergola and enoy a brilliant, long, weekend afternoon. This is what the lawn looks like – the photo does not do it any justice.
Stevens Rd, Margaret River WA 6285
T: (08) 9759 0000
Open daily for lunch, Saturday evening for dinner.
Cellar door open daily 10am – 5pm
(Just read back the post… I said I wouldn’t go into much detail didn’t I? Oops.)
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