I considered steering this blog away from restaurant reviews, because what could be further from minimalism than a decadent six course lunch at a winery? But hey, my ideal is keeping the everyday simple and spending that saved time and money on something awesome every so often, which makes it all worthwhile. Also I just really like taking photos of food.
Voyager Estate is one of the most picturesque wineries in the Margaret River region, with its manicured gardens and Cape Dutch style cellar door (which reminds me, I still need to post the rest of our South Africa trip). The day was sunny but with a bone-chilling breeze, so we hurried past the lovely gardens and into the nice warm restaurant.
Lunch seems to be the meal of choice in the South West region, which suits me just fine – better lighting, more time to digest before attempting to sleep and no need for dinner. We arranged to have the ‘Discovery Menu’, a six course affair showcasing the local ingredients, matched with Voyager Estate’s wines and with the estate’s history and wine-making process weaved in. The menu is secretive until each dish arrives at your table, so if you’re worried about spoilers I suggest you stop reading now!
We began with buckwheat bread with truffle butter, which I was very tempted to slip into my handbag and walk out with as they came conveniently piped into little jars. This was followed by a complimentary glass of their sparkling chardonnay VOC and amuse bouche, a promising start.
Each dish was preceded by a postcard by artist Simon Fieldhouse with accompanying explanation of the stage of the winemaking process it represents by our hostess for the meal. The reverse of the postcard provided tantalising hints about the coming dish but no details, leaving each one a surprise. My favourite of the entrées was the pan seared scallop, abalone with sauvignon blanc semillion foam and foraged greens – usually I dislike foam being presented as a food, but it’s hard to protest when it’s accompanying fresh, fat scallops. The spatchcock roulade provided some dramatic flair, with a glass cloche covering the dish and containing smoke of chardonnay oak barrels.
Before the main courses began, we were given a wooden tray of six spices – cinnamon, juniper, cloves, star anise, pepper and fennel seeds. After leaving us to mull over their meaning and being delivered the accompanying postcard, we were brought out a plate holding a little dish, a glass jug of master stock and a strainer. We were asked to customise our master stock with the provided spices, which would each bring out different flavours both in the main dish of confit duck and kale and in the matched wine. I chose juniper, pepper and fennel seeds. The personalisation was a nice touch, with no real wrong answer as the stock itself was already amazing.
The second main was simple, but easily the best steak I’ve ever had. Black angus beef, the smoothest cauliflower purée and rainbow carrots from the kitchen garden. Dishes don’t necessarily have to be novel when they’re this good.
After palate cleansing spoon of raspberry sorbet, it was on to dessert. Having been informed that we were celebrating both of our birthdays we both had a ‘happy birthday’ message written on the platter. I love the earthy sweetness of beetroot, especially paired with chocolate. The tang of the freeze dried and powdered beetroot sprinkled across the plate was my favourite part.
We finished the meal with coffee, tea and petite fours – caramel mousse, pistachio nougat and blueberry chocolate. By this point four hours had passed, the sunlight was starting to fade and we were well and truly stuffed.
It was a truly spectacular long lunch, one of the best degustations we’ve ever had (and there have been quite a few). Overall the dishes fell more on the traditional side rather than edgy flavour combinations, but modern techniques, excellent quality and beautiful presentation lifts it to extraordinary. The servings were generous, as were the wine pours – forget having dinner, and don’t even think about driving after doing the matched wines. The service was impeccable and the postcard story discovery a beautiful touch.
At $110 ($150 with matched wines) it is an indulgence, but on par with far lesser meals I’ve had in Perth. Certainly worth bringing food to work every day to save up for. Give yourself a few hours for a luxurious long lunch.
Stevens Road, Margaret River, WA 6285
+61 8 9757 6354
Mon – Sun: 10am – 5pm