Monday, 16 February 2015

Petite Villaine, Denmark, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Two years ago, Alissa and I visited Rockcliffe Winery for lunch. Back then, their cellar door restaurant was Silas Masih's Pepper & Salt - arguably the best and most interesting restaurant in Denmark - and Masih's spice-driven fusion cuisine combined with the ambiance of Rockcliffe's idyllic vineyards and gardens made for a very satisfying, lazy afternoon in the South West. By the end of that year, Pepper & Salt had moved out of Rockcliffe to take up residence at Forest Hill. I understood the move - Forest Hill's grand dining room is one of the best you're likely to find at any of WA's best cellar door restaurants, but I felt a bit sorry for Rockcliffe in a way, and hoped that the restaurant space would once again house a restaurant worthy of its setting.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Joop Thai, Albany, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

During our last few trips to Albany, Alissa and I have been a little disappointed with the lack of really interesting premier restaurants. The cafe's on York St and the Terrace are fine and all (Gourmandise and Co is particularly impressive), however its really hard to find places that really shine as true contenders for the city's best and most interesting restaurant; even the better dining options recommended by our family in the region have lagged behind memorable dining experiences like Pepper & Salt in Denmark, and Foragers in Pemberton - strange, considering Albany is a city compared to those much smaller towns.

One strong recommendation we hadn't followed up on during our last few trips was Joop Thai - a restaurant that is apparently a firm favourite with the locals and was thus a top priority for us to investigate this time. Located on Lockyer Avenue, Joop's premises look like it had once been home to a Sizzler or one of those old Pizza Huts before they stopped doing dine in service.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Gourmandise & Co, Albany, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

One of my favourite things to do in the lead up to a holiday is to scour the internet for tips and leads on interesting dining experiences, and then getting all the leads together and creating a schedule of places to check out. For the Busselton to Margaret River leg of our holiday through the South West, many of our meals were planned and booked months ahead, however as Alissa and I were staying with her parents for a whole week in Denmark, we decided to keep our schedule a bit more loose and adaptable. Using Denmark as our base, Alissa and I headed out to Albany for a day trip to visit the National Anzac Centre, have dinner at Joop Thai and try out Gourmandise and Co - a 'place for a good coffee and a simple lunch' recommended to us by Chris Zalokar after our excellent dinner at Foragers in Pemberton.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Foragers, Pemberton, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Sometimes the storm clouds of misfortune have a silver lining. On the way to Pemberton from Margaret River the airflow sensor in our car failed, leading to our car being towed to Augusta, another three days in Margaret River and delaying the Pemberton leg of our journey. At the time, stuck out in the searing hot sun, worried that we'd lose our deposit for our accommodation at Karri Valley Resort and then having to pay for unexpected repairs, it felt like a pretty hopeless situation. However, with a very understanding Karri Valley changing our booking, Alissa and I found ourselves in Pemberton on a Thursday and Friday night instead of the planned Monday and Tuesday. As luck would have it, the change of days meant our trip to Pemberton lined up with a dinner at Foragers, a unique cooking school, farm, restaurant and accommodation hybrid run by chef and food writer Sophie Zalokar and her husband Chris.