Restaurant Reviews

Review: Arimia is a Margaret River restaurant with a difference

An off-the-grid property powered by solar energy, organic certification, plus a farm and winery. Arimia walks the sustainability talk.

By Max Veenhuyzen
Photo: Jessica Wyld
You'd be forgiven for assuming Arimia was just another Margaret River restaurant (or cellar door, or gallery, or yoga retreat) in the bush. The soaring gum trees. The abundant wildlife. A homely timber cabin for a castle: this earthy, back-to-nature aesthetic is everywhere in the southwest. Less commonplace, however, are operations with Arimia's green-thinking credentials.
People like to talk the sustainability talk, but few walk the walk like Arimia owner Ann Spencer and chef Evan Hayter. This solar-powered property is entirely off the grid (it even treats its own wastewater), has organic certification, and produces around half of its ingredients. In short: Arimia is a farm in tune with its environs, a fact underscored by dining tables dotted across the deck. This semi-alfresco setting also allows guests to observe some of the collaborators involved with making lunch happen. You might spy with your little eye the gardeners tending the vegetable patch, the chooks that laid the eggs used in the pasta – in this instance, toothsome linguine with crayfish – or the rare-breed pigs that get turned into epic house-cured prosciutto and other porky wonders. Finally, you'll spy the chefs in the poky, open kitchen: a tight-knit team that keeps things equally direct on the plate.
Arimia owner Ann Spencer. Photo: Emma Pegrum (Arimia Dining)
While the food at Arimia has turned heads over the past four years, the post-COVID shift to tasting menu-only has snapped the entire experience into sharp focus. Opening snacks speak loudly to the garden's growing influence. An intense beetroot consommé plus a raft of tempura-fried eggplant freighting chilli-laced avocado are compelling endorsements for grow-it-yourself: ditto a summery arrangement of grilled zucchini with a bright macadamia purée.

Seeking out and supporting like-minded allies is also pivotal to the Arimia way. Local fishermen clearly think Hayter is a good bloke, hence why you and I can hook into lush spiny crab risotto, and juicy hibachi-grilled dhufish in trout dashi. For the main event: grilled, fall-apart tropea onions from micro-farmer Jema McCabe are as much a draw as rare-grilled Margaret River wagyu skirt.
South west dhufish. Photo: Emma Pegrum (Arimia Dining)
Chef menus seem to be everywhere right now, but rarely does the experience feel as complete and, well, "right" as it does here. (The easy-going service, organically farmed estate wines and accessible $90 buy-in play their parts too). Consider that less than a decade ago, guests ate café-style cooking – pressed lamb shoulder, wood-fired pizzas on weekends – and the magnitude of Arimia's evolution becomes clear. Yes, lunching here requires planning, commitment and being willing to drive down a two-kilometre stretch of unsealed road the first time you visit, but rest assured your faith will be rewarded. Arimia isn't just another Margaret River restaurant.