With the current Australian dollar being high coupled with overinflated prices in Perth, we have noticed that it is actually quite a bit cheaper to go on overseas holiday to a nearby Asian country than it is to holiday in Western Australia. Consequently of late we have been neglecting our frequent visits “down south” and replacing them with visits to Bali and Thailand.
But despite this fact, nothing beats a quick local getaway for its ease and accessibility. It was our last day of our minibreak in Margaret River and reflecting back on our weekend we were both grateful for our location choice. We hadn’t spent an hour trying to cram everything into our two suitcases nor was our little holiday concluding in a mad dash to the airport to catch a plane. Yes, travelling locally still has its definite perks. The car was chinking loudly due to all my wine purchases and our car eskie was jammed full of gourmet goodies; I was trying my hardest to make the most of having no limit on my baggage allowance!
I had made a booking for us at Cullen Wines for one last final meal before we drove back to the city to return to work. Being Easter Sunday I was glad that I had planned ahead as the restaurant looked busy. Upon arrival there was a little mix up where I got a vague jist from the staff that maybe our booking wasn’t recorded in their book. After a brief hesitation we were shown to our seats which were indoors and away from the picturesque area on the deck overlooking the vineyards. It was a bit of a shame we weren’t out there in the glorious sunshine as I had made the booking weeks prior and would have loved to have had one of these prime positions. I guess it’s not like I requested to be seated outdoors so really who am I to complain?
The Cullen restaurant follows the same biodynamic philosophy of Cullens’ Winery using only fresh organic produce sourced from their own large kitchen garden and selected local producers. I knew this fact prior to our arrival and I wanted to see for myself if this reputation for amazingly fresh food was true. We grow a lot of our own vegetables at home and nothing beats them in flavour when compared to commercially grown produce. I wasn’t disappointed – my salad was literally beyond fresh and bursting with flavour. Brightly coloured beets, tomatoes and carrots joined with soft leaves from the garden topped with tangy dollops of goat’s cheese. Scattered throughout were tiny little buttons of chickpea cakes giving just enough substance to make this a meal. Such simple yet thoughtfully chosen ingredients made every mouth full a taste sensation.
The Boy ordered the crispy duck with mandarin pancakes. The duck was richly flavoured and the pancakes were soft and light. I couldn’t see any of the crispy part of the duck on his plate but he didn’t seem too bothered about this and enjoyed his meal.
My main dish was described on the menu as grilled salmon with braised octopus, quinoa, Swiss chard and verjuice beurre blanc. After my delightful introduction to quinoa at Xanadu the day before, I wanted to compare and contrast this new discovery with another chef’s interpretation. I was initially told on ordering that this dish would be suitable for me but unfortunately the waiter soon returned to let me know that much of this dishes accompaniment contained onions. This didn’t seem to worry the chef as he offered to make an alternate option especially for me. As a replacement I was served some creamy mash, steamed snow peas and my large serve of salmon was topped with some citrus dressing that looks a little like Pemberton finger lime.
To my complete surprise as I started tucking into my meal, our waiter also brought out a large bowl of salad filled with massive chunks of avocado and a variety of those wonderful gems from the kitchen garden as a complementary extra because my dish had to be altered so much. How thoughtful and kind of the chef – thank you!
The boy’s main was a hearty man’s dish with a juicy sirloin beef steak, crunchy blue cheese soufflé, cauliflower cream and a red wine jus. His steak was cooked rare to his liking and was a quality cut of meat.
This was my first day of really feeling like I had recovered from my stomach bug so I had happily chugged down a far bit of Cullen’s lovely peachy Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon blanc Semillon. This meant we both ordered dessert without me remembering to take a photo of the menu to remind me of the details! My gluten free dessert was described as a brownie of sort with berry ice-cream. But let me tell you, this was no mere brownie. The top layer consisted of a decadent mousse flavoured with a hint of hazelnut praline goodness. The bottom half had more of a cake like texture and stopped the whole thing from being too overwhelmingly rich.
The Boy’s choice was the pecan pie, an unusual selection for him probably facilitated by the fact it came with ice cream. Obviously I didn’t get to share any of his as it was in no way gluten free so I cannot give you much of a description other than it was good enough for him to finish in entirety.
We really had a fabulous time during our stay down in Margaret River this Easter. Both Xanadu and Cullen were stand outs to us with both their customer service and food quality. Cullen’s exceedingly fresh produce is something worth going back for again and again and I look forward to returning.
Like Me on Facebook!Cullen Wines Lot 4323 Caves Rd, Margaret River, 6284 | (08) 9755 5656 | http://www.cullenwines.com.au/our-restaurant Price: $$$$ (Entrée $19-21, Mains $33-39) Food: 4.7/5 (fresh, succulent – nothing beats garden fresh) Service: 4.7/5 (slight hiccup at the beginning but handled very discreetly) Ambience: 3.2/5 (would get a much higher score if we sat outside in the sunshine) Drinks: 4/5 (only serve Cullen wines – not that that’s a bad thing!) Total: 16.6/20