Winter in the south west is a beautiful thing and it’s been far too long between visits for GG and I so we were both particularly excited about a long weekend we had booked in. Despite a three hour drive in fairly torrential rain the choice playlist I was belting out kept spirits high and right on time for our 1pm booking at Aravina Estate we pulled into the car park.
Our table was just along the veranda, but heavy plastic cafe blinds ensured we were well protected from the elements. They offer either a two course ($55) or three course ($65) menu and given we were both starving after our morning’s road trip we opted for three. They also suggest which of their wines match best with each course which made life easy.
Aravina Estate’s Head Chef, Ben Day and Sous Chef, Tom Spencer source the finest local ingredients from growers and producers to develop a range of uniquely flavoursome dishes that showcase the quality range of meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, cheeses and produce available in the Margaret River region.
We studied the menu and both ordered the Braised ham hock, slow cooked egg, cauliflower, manjimup truffle, hazelnut crumble along with a glass of the Aravina Estate 2013 Chardonnay for our entrees. It felt delightfully leisurely to be sat at such a stunning winery enjoying lunch and on a Friday no less!
Our first Chardonnay arrived and it was a wonderful drop. Our matching entrees were then delivered. Probably slightly different presentation to what I had expected, but our waiter had given us helpful guidance on this dish, basically pierce that slow cooked egg and get mixing! Wasn’t quite the artistic vision all mixed together, but it had lovely flavours and a nice contrasting crunch from the hazelnut. There’s a real skill to a perfectly slow cooked egg with indulgently silky yolk and they had done a beautiful job.
Onto mains, where I couldn’t go past the Pan fried gnocchi, Jerusalem artichoke, broad beans, manchego, garden leaves and GG went for the Slow cooked chicken, heirloom barley, turnip, smoked cheddar curd and we stepped up our wines to the Aravina Estate 2014 Wildwood Ridge Reserve Chardonnay.
GG’s chicken looked perfect. Super crisped skin and so plump! As lovely as it was though, for him the star was the lentils. They had a really rich, delicious flavour and teamed so well with that moist chook. I tried a bite of his too and hard to argue, it was very, very tasty.
I couldn’t resist the gnocchi though when I spied it on the menu. Like a moth to a gnocchi flame, they are such precious little pillows of super soft joy. These had been very lightly pan fried to add a little crispness. Further crunch came from the fried artichoke pieces and there was a creaminess from the manchego. Bravo on some spectacular gnocchi! It was smiles all round after such lovely dishes!
GG really mixed things up for dessert and opted for the Berrys Creek blue cheese, roasted pears, fresh honeycomb, oat cracker, while lemon and meringue got my attention – Lemon cake, burnt meringue, persimmon, bay leaf. Presentation by chef Ben and his team is faultless. Every element of every dish is artistically presented and flavours and textures are carefully balanced and considered. I loved the zesty lemon cake and dramatic shards of burnt meringue. The lemon curd added some nice sweetness and persimmon is not a fruit I’ve given a lot of attention previously, but visually and taste wise it worked well in my dessert.
And while I had been unconvinced about GG’s selection, it did turn out to be a real winner and again, will you take a moment to appreciate this beautiful plating! Plus fresh honeycomb is such a wonderful addition 🙂
What a place. The new chef and his new menu are a complete delight and highlight the high quality eating options available in the south west, along with some stellar wine choices. We are a spoilt bunch in WA to have such an amazing region on our relative door steps. Plan a weekend to jump in the car and to head south, it’s a beautiful drive with a beautiful lunch as the pot of gold at the end of the Caves Road rainbow.