Millbrook, in Jarrahdale (incidentally the birthplace of Sister of FWO when many eons ago there was a hospital there), is a longish drive from Perth, but the journey is worth it; the setting is spectacular – one of the best of any winery in the West. Old fruit trees surround a sheltered, vine covered walk way up to the lovely winery building, set against a lake – well a dam really, with statuary on an island in the middle, ducks and other water fowl swimming happily.
The tasting room is downstairs, while up a flight you come to the wide open well lit dining room, with outside veranda seating as well. Wooden floors do, however, make it a tad noisy at times, but not overly….and anyway, a conversational buzz certainly doesn’t detract from the high quality food served.
On the day we were there, a large party of young mothers with what appeared to be one year olds were on the veranda celebrating a first birthday party. But they were outside and didn’t wail or make too much noise…and the babies were well behaved also.
The wine list contains only estate wines, but since the brands that covers is extensive – Millbrook, Barking Owl, Lakes Folly, Deep Woods, Yilgarn and Smithbrook – there is plenty to choose from. Cognizant of the long drive ahead, we (or perhaps I should say “I”) showed remarkable restraint, starting with a glass of Millbrook 2013 Riesling for me – lots of crisp acid and citrus notes – and a 2014 Deep Woods Harmony rosé for Lady FWO – lifted strawberry notes on the nose, a beautiful deep pink colour, and a refreshingly dry finish. After those as an aperitif, we settled on a bottle of 2012 Millbrook Petit Verdot –blackcurrant and vanilla aromas leading to rich plummy characters on the palate, supported by firm tannins and a long finish.
The menu is characterised by the use of vegetables grown in the winery garden and handpicked each day. Among the dishes on offer were turnip remoulade with seared scallops; viognier braised rabbit risotto; charred pork loin with fennel; and silver beet and ricotta tortellini.
We went for entrees of rabbit risotto for Lady FWO and squid for me, while for mains we plumped for beef brisket served with broad beans and potatoes and roasted king prawns accompanied by spiced carrots.
The risotto was silken and creamy, with depths of gamey flavour from the bunny, added to the saltiness from pancetta and the subtlety of pecorino; a background hint of apricot from the wine braise completed an excellent dish.
The squid came as rings, cooked with smoked paprika, and scattered throughout with ultra thin rounds of crispy roasted potato, pickled radish and parsley. The squid was excellent, tender, salty and smoky with a hint of spice, and the vegetables were great allies. It all came together beautifully on the plate – lovely dish.
Beef brisket looked brilliant on the plate with wonderful presentation and the meat was beautifully cooked, meltingly soft and juicy with some lovely saltiness from the accompanying white anchovies. However it was undone somewhat by the vegetables, which were almost cold – perhaps having sat to the side while the beef was being finished? It was a touch disappointing, as the meat itself was lovely.
The roasted prawns were also presented beautifully, and the six of so large crustaceans were more than I could manage – despite them being perfectly cooked – crunchy shell, moist flesh, with lovely notes from the accompanying preserved lemon. A couple of roasted heirloom carrots draped across the prawns added a sweet nutty note. The only downside here was a purée of blended carrot and Puy lentils to the side which, again, was lukewarm. Still the flavours of the dish were excellent overall.
The sides of a garden salad and garlic mash were brilliant; the salad especially showing off the wonders of the winery garden.
We had decided to partake of the special menu choice which included dessert or cheese, so despite nearing our fill, we chose a date strudel and the cheese of the day. The strudel came with macadamia nut butter, hazelnuts, and rum and raisin ice cream. It was a very fine dish, with all elements complementing the other; the hazelnuts providing a lovely nutty crunch.
Cheese was from Nannup’s Cambray Farm, and was served with quince paste and a delightful honeycomb. The matured Farmhouse Gold was delicate and nutty, an excellent cheese and rounded out our meal.
Millbrook is a top shelf winery restaurant and well worth the drive – there a couple of places to stay nearby so for those who wish to indulge a little more of the vinous delights, that could be a sound option.