For an over-the-top wedding venue with a car collection and a cushion and throw-filled gift shop, Aravina Estate pumps out a superb dining experience. For many years, its food swung between just okay and to-be-avoided. Then along came chef Ben Day – a local lad with a good pedigree in commercial cooking.
Aravina, like many of its vineyard based contemporaries opens only for lunch. It’s a good price too: two courses for $65, three courses for $75.
Much to our delight, we found that the newly energised kitchen is not just an improvement but now one of the finest destinations in Margaret River. With all the high end competition in the region, it’s not quite top of the pops, but it’s snapping at the heels of some of the region’s best.
To the food. Charred Wagin quail – made from fresh, never frozen, birds – is broken down into leg and breast sections, lightly brined, sous vide at different temperatures and then seared, rested and served.
It is garnished with just-cooked baby beetroots, a silky, earthy beetroot puree and buckwheat. Very classy.
A tenderloin of veal marinated in wattle seed and garnished with parsnip, blueberry sauce, blueberries and chocolate nibs is everything a venison fan would hope for. It is undercooked, soft, sweet and the fruit garnishes are on the money. This is very good, classical cooking with utterly modern delivery.
The service is smooth and professional. You barely notice it, which is the point.
The setting at Aravina is hard to beat too. Manicured gardens, rolling green vineyards – it’s picture postcard stuff. When in Margarret River, add Aravina to your must-do list.