Way down south

THOSE who compile lists of ‘must-visit’ places have a new name to pencil in … Wino’s.

Situated in the heart of Margaret River, Wino’s is one of those places that makes you will feel comfortable straight away, be it when sitting down for coffee or a glass of wine in mid afternoon, or relaxing into an evening meal.

Wino’s isn’t a traditional establishment, and I think that’s what makes the place so endearing. Rather, it is a cross between a wine bar, a cafe and a modern restaurant. There is a mix of punters that includes regulars and a constant flow of tourists. Ensuring that local and regular consumers return is essential for all restaurants and cafes, however probably more so for a town the size of Margaret River.

During the past month I have visited Wino’s to devour several plates of what Wino’s calls ‘grits’. Included in the grits menu are the vegitarian risotto balls $5.00, sardine tapenade $5.50, beef carpaccio with an anchovy mayonnaise $6.00, slow cooked octopus $7.50 (a real treat), and oysters, which are hard to go past at $2.70 each, especially with tomato lime salsa.

If you can’t decide you can just get the chef’s selection at $15.00. The staff is helpful enough to ensure that you order enough, so don’t be afraid to leave it to their judgment if in doubt.

Menu number two is a bar menu and includes a pasta at $15.50, fish and chips $15.50, and the Wino’s curry $15.50.

On one of my recent visits I ordered pizza with salami, basil and red onion and asked for a couple of additions for $10.50. The pizza was not only fresh, but was so good I’d swear the base was Italian. The pizzas are not your family size but I found it adequate, while those with a very big appetite would be advised to warm up with some grits.

It is the evening menu that has got me excited on several occasions. This was certainly the case last week when I discovered that chef and part owner, Dennis Mifsud, had goat on the menu. The enthusiasm and passion of the whole team is evident and you will often find Dennis out on the floor of the restaurant towards the end of the night discussing all manner of culinary matters. It’s pleasing to see the large number of restaurants in the area that are not only using the fabulous local produce, but have moved on from the traditional ‘square’ meals to offer tempting choices such as goat and aged beef fillet, as well as old favourites like bangers and mash.

It would be hard to describe the style of cuisine served at Wino’s, as the dishes served range from Asian through the spectrum, although there seems to be a slight bias towards Mediterranean fare. Another of the welcoming features of Wino’s is, no surprises here, the wine list.

The list caters for visiting tourists with a great selection of Western Australian wines, however there is also plenty for those hard-to-please winemakers who frequent the establishment.

Part owner Mike Gadd, a winemaker himself, has created a wine list that offers a good range of interstate and international wines. Mike is also very passionate about making Wino’s a success and, from my viewpoint, has created an atmosphere that wouldn’t be out of place in the Napa Valley, St Emilion, or any other wine community.

Now, back to the goat, which was the whole reason for sitting down and writing this review. Rack of goat on a bed of fluffy mash with an olive and caper jus ($25.00) was one of the best meals I have had in some time.

The meat was full of flavour and so tender it simply melted in my mouth. Capers can tend to overpower a dish, however they complemented the other elements in this dish.

While it was the goat that took my fancy, others at our table were taken with the delights of Atlantic salmon with char-grilled eggplant and tarama and tomato salsa $24.50, and the paella with mussels and chorizo sausage $21.50.

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