The drive down to Margs is for the most part boring, but man, is it worth it. By Cowtown, the land is lush and it’s all farmland and wineries. By the time we get to Margaret Rover, the cube farm feels very far away, and ahead is a weekend of wining and dining. And getting woken up by kookaburras.
A dinner at Miki’s Open Kitchen is now mandatory for any Margaret River trip. Miki and his crew of two execute dinner with grace and speed while we look on from around the sunken kitchen. The tempura, especially the seafood tempura, is top notch. Partly because it is always local and it’s literally seconds from when it leaves the fryer to your mouth. The gozen set menu, encompassing three courses with amuse, small salad and dessert is good value. Esperance scallops, local water chestnuts and steamed wagyu wrapped around Jerusalem artichokes (so good!) were just the highlights of a fab dinner.
The 34 Degrees South farm gate (if you can call a safari-esque tented tasting room a farm gate) is a ten minute drive east. I’m still enamoured with the isolation of Rosa Brook. It is simply so green out here and so quiet. At the tent we’re greeted by two dogs, two alpacas and four shoe-pecking chooks. The grove produces three oils, each more peppery than the last and we leave with a supply to last us another year. (I immediately regret not buying more.)
Wills Domain, with its casual cafe appearance (which is pro or a con depending on your preference for dressing up) delivers: amazing food, great service and yes, that view. The food is thoroughly mod oz, with a penchant for edible flowers and textures. We started with an elegant entree of slippery jacks and scallops, are drowned in an umami laden dashi broth. The cured amberjack on first impression looked a bit like diet food, delicate even. The cucumber done three ways – pickled, charred and mousse – was smart, adding bite and unusual flavour. The wallaby with its ferric, beefy texture was an interesting and tasty combod with crunchy damper crumbs and acidic Illawarra plum paste. We didn’t leave enough room for dessert. D’oh.
Miki’s Open Kitchen | 131 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River
The town’s best dinner option. Fresh local seafood, locally grown produce and wonderful tempura.
Wills Domain | Abbeys Farm Rd, Yallingup
Lots of texture and native ingredients make for an elegant winery lunch. Definitely one to consider among the big players like Vasse Felix, Aravina and the like.
Colonial Brewing | 56 Osmington Rd, Margaret River
Fans of Colonials Small Ale and #1 should take note, Colonial’s (more) niche beers are available here on tap. Friendly service and an idyllic setting and it’s suitable for families. Bring your growler for refills.
34 Degrees South | 195 Crozier Road, Rosa Brook
Viscous, freshly pressed olive oil. Bring your empty wine bottles and fill them up! Love this stuff on salads and drizzled over pasta.
Gilgara Retreat | 3 Old Ellen Brook Road, Margaret River
The garden suites are clean with tonnes of natural light and a spa bath. Good for self caterers.
Margaret River Farmers Market | Margaret River Education Campus, Lot 272 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River
A must do. Get your brekkie at Margaret River Bakery and coffee at either the Silver Bullet’s airstream or Combi Coffee. Pick up free range eggs, Yallingup wood fired bread and when in season, apples, avocados and freshly dug potatoes.
Settlers Tavern | 114 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River
Get in early to avoid waiting for a table. Order the smoked American barbecue special.
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