Are you a foodie?
Oh, that’s good! So are we, and there’s nothing better we like to do than to head down to the township of Margaret River for a weekend of wining and dining.
Exciting Times for dining out in Margaret River
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I like better than to spend a long lazy few hours at a wonderful winery or brewery restaurant whittling away a winter’s afternoon in picture perfect surroundings.
But the town provides the night time scene and you can expect everything from casual cafes, to fine dining. There’s a tavern, an historic hotel, and some hip joints with a New York warehouse style funk, kind of style.
There’s Asian and gourmet Australiana fare to be enjoyed (including some great tapas) and the vibe is upbeat.
So let’s eat, drink and be merry 🙂
Where to eat in Margaret River
Drum roll please.
I’d like to introduce you to Muster, Swings Taphouse and Morries – restaurants that are at the top of the foodie game. They’re hip, funky and fun – and don’t let’s forget the food which is downright amazing too.
I love Swings – it’s buzzing and full of energy. At night and all lit up it looks really inviting and once inside we were drawn to the lovely fireplace – in summer of course you could relax outside under the gorgeous grapevines.
The restaurant is what I like to imagine as New York warehouse style. It’s vibey, friendly, funky and happening, and the staff are great.
Francine welcomed us on arrival and explained a bit about the restaurant’s story.
“Swings Taphouse is unique in Australia because we have both wine and beer on tap,” she said leading me to the long bar.
Don’t be put off – the wine isn’t served in tankers, it’s served as you might expect, from taps into fine-lipped wine glasses, or carafes.
The Mediterranean style wines hail from local Swings & Roundabouts winery (at the northern end of the Margaret River region) but you can also purchase a selection of other wines from various ‘guest backyards’ along with cocktails and beers too.
Relaxed wine culture
I didn’t know this but wine on tap has a long-standing history in Europe and doing away with bottles, and all the resources that go into producing them, makes a lot of sense environmentally. Most wines from Swings and Roundabouts are ready to go and can be tapped straight away – it’s an interesting concept and it’s great to see wine culture relaxing a bit.
Designed for sharing
While it might appear simple and rustic there are definitely some fine dining options which will have you trying for more than your half share.
“The food has a fairly fast turnaround, so you can just keep adding dishes as you wish,” explained Francine.
The emphasis is on fresh, local and sustainable and there’s an imported wood-fired oven from which emerge fantastic Italian style pizzas for take away or dine in.
Two of my fave dishes were the Braised lamb ribs, roasted garlic, hummus and herb salad, and the Caramelised cauliflower, ras’el hanout dates, chilli chermoula – Yum!
Swings ambiance and menu
The decor’s interesting too – there’s a huge rotary washing line feature complete with pegs in the centre of the restaurant and industrial sized shelfing all along one wall.
My advice – if you’re going to Swings Taphouse – don’t drive – Get a room 🙂
Muster Margaret River
You’ll find Muster Bar and Grill towards the northern end of the main street. It draws you in because of the inviting open-sided restaurant with its high bar tables which look out over the street (if you’re walking along the pavement you can take a peek). Further inside you’ll find a more secluded traditional dining arrangement.
For me the restaurant exudes a casual French bistro style and the food is most definitely ‘fine’ as in fine dining.
Local produce, wine and cocktails
I’ve eaten at Muster a couple of times, once for dinner and once for lunch (but at the time I wasn’t in blogging mode so I didn’t take any photos.) I can tell you that the menu is driven by regional produce and inspired by local wine makers, food is to die for and beautifully presented, and there’s a great cocktail selection too.
Starter magic at sundown
People pop in for a sundowner at a bar table to sit and gossip and watch the Margaret River world go by. A drink turns into the need for a couple of tasty starters to go with it – just to give you an idea what to expect …
Beef empanada, Spanish crumb, Beef slider, gruyere, tomato relish, house pickles, aioli, Polenta bites, tomato chilli jam.
You’ll find that nibblies like these somehow roll into a feast from the full menu and it’s probably 8 o’clock and you haven’t yet moved off the bar stool.
Yep, been there, done that 🙂More about Muster Margaret River
Why anytime? Well it’s open from 7.30am until late.
High profile connections
We arrived on a Thursday evening about 8pm and the restaurant was rocking. It had a laid back vibe, and a casually cool bar. I had heard that well-known high profile Margaret River chef Tony Howell might be at the helm as executive chef, but I arrived too soon – nevertheless I can’t wait to return when he starts rolling out some of his trademark touches because I’ve been lucky to sample his wondrous creations when he worked at Cape Lodge and Aravina Estate Restaurant.
Right now at Morries you can expect a lively restaurant (with an upmarket menu and beautifully presented food) along with a cocktail and tapas bar.
There’s an interesting wine list and a great selection of cocktails.
You can call to book or come in ‘anytime’ for tapas, a main meal, or a late night cocktail. The motto is:
“Start at Morries, stay at Morries or finish at Morries.”
The tapas are beautifully presented – here’s a selection just to get your taste buds going …
Crispy globe artichokes, fried capers, roasted garlic and almond puree, orange oil, micro herbs. Spicy chorizo, roasted and marinated capsicum, parsley, lemon. Master stock pork belly, Thai caramel, micro coriander (I can vouch that the pork belly is absolutely delicious!)
During daytime you might prefer to dine al fresco, but we visited at night and were whisked into a big open space which feels at once contemporary and arty and has a pressed ceiling effect all down one side. There’s interesting pop art on the walls, by Troy Barbitta, pictures which for me represented shades of Andy Warhol. There are bared light bulbs and a long, long bar because it’s the sort of place where people stop by for a quick drink and stay for some tapas at the bar.
Did I mention cocktails?
I read that, “Morries bartenders get their kicks from complementing the world’s best spirits with local produce and house made concoctions.”More about Morries Anytime
So where will you go?
For me the beauty of ‘Margs’ is the variety. Of course there are other delightful eateries and these three restaurants are only a smattering of what’s available along the main street.
In the meantime I wish you Bon Appetit at the lovely Morries, Muster and Swings.
If you’ve been to Margaret River, why not tell us about your favourite restaurants in the comments section?