We’re pretty spoilt here in Margaret River – there’s so many excellent places to dine, and we’re lucky to have new breweries, cafes and restaurants popping up each year. Brewhouse is a notable new addition on the dining scene, and I’m excited about the imminent Amelia Park Restaurant opening mid 2017.
But there’s only so much you can pack into a weekend, and here’s my list of keep-coming-back favourites. And if you miss any, never mind! It’s a good excuse to return soon for another down south holiday.
1. Jill James’ tarts at Margaret River Farmers Markets
She stays up all hours making the pastry from hand. The confit duck pie is my favourite, but they’re all delicious. Check facebook as Jill usually does every 2nd market. Okay, duck pie isn’t exactly breakfast, but bacon and egg pie is, and the vibrant farmers market is open every Saturday morning 7.30-11.30am. Get there early as Jill’s incredible creations sell like the proverbial hotcakes.
2. Claudio’s biscuits at the Margaret River Farmers Markets
Claudio is a genius pastry chef hailing from Tuscany. He brought with him all the traditional recipes of his homeland, from Brutti ma Buoni (Ugly but nice) to Ricciarelli from Siena, Diplomatica cake and freshly piped cannoli. The hard part is choosing – there’s so many delicious cakes and biscuits to tempt you! Look out for I Pasticcioni or Claudio Biscotti at the market – he’s in the midst of changing the business name.
Tip: buy a mixed tray of bickies for the journey home to Perth.
3. Pies, Danishes and fresh bread at The Margaret River Bakery
Not just a pretty face, they sure know how to whip up a lovely croissant here! I’ve been a regular visitor to their Margaret River Farmers Market stall for years, and finally made it to their fabulous bakery café for brekkie recently – and it was awesome! Grab a pie, a raspberry Danish, a loaf of organic sunflower bread… hey, life’s short, get one of everything! They’re at the market every Saturday morning, and the bakery is at 89 Bussell Highway, two doors up from Swings Taphouse.
4. Coffee at Sidekick Café
Can you believe this groovy little joint used to be a camera shop? Now it’s buzzing and they serve an excellent flat white. Cold drip coffee, smoothies, cakes and light meals are also on offer, alongside banter from the genial barista. Located on the main strip of Margaret River, opposite the book shop (worth a visit) its 270 degree windows are great for sitting back and watching the world (or at least the surfers) stroll by.
5. Sticky Pork and coconut rice at Brewhouse
Brewhouse is relatively new on the scene, it’s a brewery on the edge of the karri forest, at the entrance to town (opposite Carters Road). And it’s sensational. I love their simple approach to brewing (simply rainwater, hops, malt and yeast) but best of all I love their food. Brewhouse was created by three local families, and they wanted to make it “somewhere we’d want to go for lunch” – and they’ve nailed it. Everything is good, but the sticky pork is my current favourite. Family friendly, for sure.
6. Sweetcorn fritters with a side of bacon at Riversmith
There’s so much to love about Riversmith, so I’ll start with their sweetcorn fritters. Salty, crunchy and served with an avocado salsa, they can only be improved with a serve of bacon and good conversation. The saltbush lamb is awesome too, and they keep it interesting with regular menu updates. Converted from the old BP service station, they’ve maintained the art nouveau aesthetic and light, spacious feel thanks to oversize windows.
Shopping: you’ll find quality books, cookbooks, local and Australian designed gift ware. Great to pick up a treat for yourself or holiday memento.
7. Burger Bones at The Shed Markets, Busselton, on your way home to Perth
Burgers beyond compare! Order the ‘Filthy Dirty’ if you’re hungry – that’s a Dirty burger with an extra patty and bacon. These are traditional American-style burgers with mustard, pickle, iceberg and beef grilled in a vintage caravan. Cooper was famous in London for The Dogfather Diner hotdogs, now he’s carving out a name for excellent burgers. Nice work, Coops!
Afternoon & take home
8. Scones at Basildene Manor
These super-sized lemonade and cream scones are made to order – so be sure to call up and book in advance, they ask for about an hour’s notice. Made by Danielle they come straight from the oven to your table. Served with local Berry Farm strawberry jam and double cream, these scones alone are worth the trip down south. Served with a pot of tea, and a walk in their delightful heritage garden afterwards.
9. Homemade orange cake on the McLeod Tours Kangaroo Sunset Safari Tour
I always take my overseas guests on the Kangaroo Sunset Safari – it’s such an authentic Aussie experience, going for a ride in Neil’s converted 1962 Bedford Truck, drinking real Billy Tea and seeing the wild kangaroos. Coralie McLeod makes this amazing orange cake – it’s delicious! Ask us at reception and we’ll book you on the kangaroo tour, or their Eat Drink Explore wine tour.
10. Margaret River Wood Fired Bread
Marion and Gottard from Yallingup Wood Fired Bakery opened another bakery on the corner of Boodjidup and Burton roads, just south of Margaret River town. Their bread is made from biodynamic flour, made with a sourdough starter and baked in a wood fired oven. Arrive around 3pm for fresh bread, or 4pm for fruit bread. Awesome with cheese, a stew or simply nibbled on the drive home!
11. Takeaway picnic hampers from The Larder
Sometimes a picnic dinner with a bottle of local wine is just the business after a big day wining and dining in Margaret River. Pop into The Larder where they have beautiful cheese, house-made takeaway meals and plenty of local relishes and the like. Great place to buy foodie gifts to take home.
Dinner and drinks
12. Cocktails at Morrie’s
Start the night at the top end of town, with a cocktail at Morrie’s. There’s a good range of craft beer and wines by the glass if that’s more your style. Also a bustling breakfast and lunch joint, the lights dim and there’s a fantastic ambiance after dark. Bonus points for being walking distance to Quality Inn Margaret River.
13. Trust degustation at Miki’s Open Kitchen
You need to book ahead to secure a table (or spot at the bar) at this small but awesome Japanese restaurant. The food is beautifully presented, and flavours are outstanding. The service, atmosphere and value is exceptional too. There’s an optional sake matching – again, it’s walking distance to your accommodation so why not splash out – it’s not every day you can taste sakes of this calibre.
14. Picnic Indian at the Spice Odysee curry van
Satish is a fantastic Indian chef who swapped his role at a resort restaurant for a mobile curry van, Spice Odysee. He sells an array of aromatic curries, traditional naans and crispy dosa with masala potatoes on Wednesday and Friday nights at Margaret River Rotary Park. Take the family and a picnic blanket and hope for a beautiful sunset!
15. Home made pasta at La Scarpetta
It’s homely and feels authentically Italian. I can’t go past the homemade pasta; perhaps the ravioli filled with osso bucco, or the tagliatelle with goat ragu. Best of all? They have an incredible cellar so you’re sure to find something special – either from Italy or Margaret River – to complement your meal.
16. Caramelised pork belly from Willow Grill
This list wouldn’t be complete without our pork belly! It has a beautiful rich texture and delicate Asian flavour, spiked with garlic, ginger and coriander. I love to pair it with a Kingston Estate Pinot Gris or Ferngrove Cossack Riesling. We’ve recently published the recipe – do let us know how it is if you give it a whirl.
Willow Grill is open 7 days a week for breakfast now, and 6 nights a week for dinner, Monday to Saturday. We’d love to welcome you back soon!