Restaurant Reviews

WA's best regional restaurants right now

A revolutionary off-the-grid restaurant, Vietnam meets France meets the Great Southern region, and a must-visit eatery in the Margaret River. These are the finest places to dine in Western Australia according to our 2020 Restaurant Guide.

The dining revolution will not be televised. Mindful eaters need to drive down an unsealed road in Margaret River scrub to see (and taste) it for themselves. This off-the-grid cellar door – a warm, country-cosy space adorned with contemporary art and timber floorboards – might not boast the history of some of its neighbours, but its self-sufficient approach offers an inspiring blueprint for tomorrow. Evan Hayter doesn't just talk the sustainable restaurant talk: he walks the walk, plants the plants in a biodynamic kitchen garden, breeds trout in winter creeks and uses pigs to regenerate the land. He also has the kitchen smarts to turn this virtue into gratifying lunch menus. Misshapen carrots with a soy-cured quail's egg yolk and estate olive oil equals a stirring vegetarian tartare. Local whiting gets flash-cured by a vinaigrette made from sémillon grapes. Daikon "noodles" and pale slices of air-dried duck in dashi speaks to an interest in Japanese cooking. Estate pork stars in comforting ragù tagliatelle and great smallgoods. Snappy wines, cheerful service and tranquil bushland views from the deck feature among Arimia's other home-grown assets.
242 Quininup Rd, Yallingup, WA,
Arimia. Photo: Jessica Wyld
Vietnam meets France meets Western Australia's sprawling Great Southern region by way of a Parisian-themed small bar inside one of the state's first licensed hotels. Liberté might be one of this country's most singular and idiosyncratic prospects, yet its spirited brand of hospitality is all too easy to fall for. Here's the plan. Either bag a seat in the bistro-inspired front room (handsome wooden bar, round zinc tables, ephemera galore) or commandeer a sofa in the Belle Époque-era parlour. Kick things off with a round of local beers, wines or well-made cocktails from bar manager and gracious host Keryn Giles, then begin your assault on the menu. Amy Hamilton believes in flavour and cooking without borders, so her Indochine steak tartare is crunched up with fried shallots, jewels of finger lime add pop to jet-black salt and pepper squid, and vegetarian potato and fennel dumplings are showered with crisp matchsticks of pommes pailles. Be it garlic-bread gougères to start, fat profiteroles filled with Vietnamese coffee ice-cream to finish, or a sassy floor team right through, Liberté has no shortage of ambassadors to make its case as a shining regional star.
160-162 Stirling Tce, Albany, WA,
The grand reveal of Millbrook's vines, man-made lake and handsome stone cellar door is reason enough to make the one-hour drive from Perth to historic Jarrahdale. The view gets even better from the first-floor dining room. Initially, it's the wraparound vistas of the surrounding forest that strike you, but once the vegetable-forward food of Guy Jeffreys joins the party – and Millbrook is definitely a long lunch best enjoyed in numbers – the focus quickly reverts to what's happening tableside. The kitchen's choice entrée is the most direct line to the organic estate garden and might feature sweet Hungarian peppers, grilled and stuffed with rice, or thick-cut raw kingfish showered with grated horseradish and thumb-sized caigua, the Bolivian cucumbers. Despite this focus on heirloom varieties, the menu also celebrates the familiar. Dry-aged, bone-in blade steak is served with squeaky string beans and house-made potato crisps. Watermelon and chilli salt combine in an unexpected pre- dessert. Wines priced at a steal, relaxed service, and homely desserts like chocolate parfait served simply with blood plums, reinforce the accessibility of this essential destination restaurant.
Old Chestnut La, Jarrahdale, WA,
Millbrook Winery.
It's the little things that make this cellar door restaurant a must on any Margaret River eating itinerary. The vibrancy of local whiting, quick-cured to order and presented on a slick of dashi-enriched cream. The give of noodle-like strands of squid, poached in butter and served in a bright broth sharpened with preserved lemon. The tangle of precision-sliced snow peas that conceal fat baked-potato gnocchi, as much an aesthetic flourish as it is about playing crunch against soft. Yet despite all this minutiae, this sleek dining room – all dark surfaces and terrazzo flooring – nails the bigger things, too. "Side dish" seems like a put-down for something as well built as a half-head of cauliflower enriched with miso butter, the steadily expanding wine range has zero weak spots, and the view of the vines and surrounding valley remains a conversation stopper – as is a glossy, chocolate-coated cube of salted caramel and chocolate mousse, the latest in Seth James's ongoing series of photo-ready desserts. A polished floor team, meanwhile, underscores Wills Domain as the complete Margaret River lunchtime package.
Cnr Brash & Abbey Farm Rds, Yallingup, WA,