The restaurant on Wise’s stunningly picturesque property has been reinvented this year. It is a “new” addition to the Margaret River region’s already stellar roster of top-flight restaurants. Wise Winery’s restaurant flies a little under the radar but the appointment this year of a new chef, Ben Jacob, has improved its performance and elevated its cooking.
The menu is short – five entrees, six mains and some snack-style appetisers – and the dishes are slightly less rustic and a little more “casual posh”. And they are inviting and hugely enjoyable. For example, heirloom beetroot, orange, date, courgette, chevre, grain, looked like a bridesmaid’s posy: a mound of well-dressed grains topped with flowers, thinly sliced radish and courgette. It was pretty and delicate but bold with jacked-up flavour.
Margaret River venison with carrot and mandarin is a modern classic, well cooked. A superbly trimmed, seared, rare deer rump is properly undercooked and rested. Garnishes are simple and unfussy. A side of broccoli with Aleppo pepper and pine nuts was a plate-licker. One of the best vegetable dishes we’ve had.
Wise Winery restaurant owner Heath Townsend was ready, last year, to walk away after 23 years – surely a record in the notoriously fickle hospitality industry. Apparently, he had an epiphany early in 2018 and decided to stay and invest in a chef with a good CV and a solid reputation and to spend on long-overdue upgrades to the restaurant. That’s a pretty gutsy call in these febrile times for the restaurant sector, but, as it turns out, well rewarded.
Good for Heath Townsend and good for us too. Put Wise on your list when next down south.