On our recent trip to Margaret River we decided to lunch at Wills Domain, near Yallingup. We had heard many good reports and often thought to go but until now had never quite managed to make it. Coincidentally the day we went was the one after it was named Best Regional restaurant in the West Good Food and Wine Guide. I have to say, after eating there, we could understand why.
It is a lovely setting with view over the vines from the restaurant; and the winery itself is a beautifully designed building with interesting sculptures out front, a gallery and little shop. All in all an inviting place.
Prior to going to our table we took the chance to taste the wines on offer – the restaurant serves only Wills Domain wines, however these are of such quality, it was no issue as far as we were concerned. I will review the wines in a later post; there are some excellent ones among them.
The menu offered a few snacks – olives, beef tendon with Tasmanian pepper among them – a charcuterie platter; five entrees; a similar number of main courses; a shared plate of Dorper lamb shoulder; a number of sides; plus desserts and cheeses.
We started with swordfish and asparagus for our entrees, followed by scallops and snapper for our mains.
The swordfish served with sea spinach and slivers of black rye was an outstandingly presented dish and the taste lived up to the visual delight. It was light, refreshing, the fish redolent of the ocean, the salty flavours of the spinach melding beautifully; edible flowers sprinkled over to finish the look of the dish perfectly.
I should pause here to note that all of the dishes were presented in spectacular style – they could almost be viewed as works of art – and they taste just as good as they look. Sometimes you strike a chef who puts a beautiful plate together but the flavours fall short – not here!
Albany asparagus was grilled, served with a maple dressing, a very thin slice of toasted crisp bread and topped with a slow cooked duck egg. The asparagus was quickly cooked – retaining the crunch that we love, the dressing complementing it; and the egg was sublime.
Line caught snapper, served on a potato galette was draped with silken cuttlefish, cooked in its ink, and the plate dotted by small dollops of blended grilled lettuce and similarly of grapefruit. These little mounds caught the concentrated flavours of the leaf and fruit, and worked brilliantly. The cuttlefish was stunning – I have never before had it cooked it that style – the pan fried snapper was tender and moist. The potato cake had a delightfully crispy skin, and was silky smooth and creamy inside. The whole dish was wonderful.
Just cooked Esperance scallops came with a small jug of golden chicken broth and shimeji mushrooms. They retained their tenderness, an explosion of salty flavours, and were set off beautifully by the lovely golden broth; the mushrooms adding another dimension of flavour and mouth feel.
At this stage, we had our palates refreshed with a complimentary sorbet, which did the trick and we were back on course, convinced we needed to try the desserts and we are very glad we did. Again they were a triumph of visual appeal and taste.
Spears of tender rhubarb were served with a lemon myrtle panna cotta, green apple and dots of concentrated rhubarb. It was delicious.
The second dessert, blood orange with eucalyptus, macadamia and white chocolate was likewise a stunningly presented dish. Again, it was delicious.
With our meals I chose to start with a glass of Scheurebe 2014. This is a German white grape – a crossing with Riesling and an unknown variety- the wine notes suggest it could be Gruner Veltliner – whatever it produces a wine of wonderful aroma – notes of grapefruit and honey, while on the palate it leans more to Riesling – beautiful lemon and lime notes, with a satisfying long and dry finish.
Lady FWO went for her favourite tipple, a glass of rosé, this made from Shiraz; lots of strawberry notes, but also quite a dry finish.
We followed with, for Lady FWO, a glass of 2011 Cuvee d’ Elevage Cabernet Sauvignon while I went with the 2010 Reserve Bitza, a blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both excellent wines and when I post my review of them you will get a few more details.
Well how to sum up?
The service is excellent, friendly and knowledgeable; the food is outstanding; the wine of high quality; the décor lovely; the outlook from the restaurant wonderful – it is simply a stunning restaurant and winery. It is deservedly regarded as one of the best WA has to offer. This is not just a winery restaurant; it is an exceptional restaurant that happens to be at a winery.