3 Funky Restaurants for a great night out in Margaret River

Are you a foodie?

Yes?

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

pic7_Swings_Jo_Castro_barman Sam pouring wineWhat’s great is that there are some pretty fab local chefs making names for themselves here and they’re showcasing awesome local produce, and tempting us with many different styles of cuisine.

In town the dining scene is mostly situated along the main street and if you travel further afield you’ll find plenty of restaurants scattered amongst the world class wineries and boutique breweries.

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.

Swings Taphouse

Pic6_Swings_Jo_Castro_OutsidePic9_Jo_Castro_Jo with chef Tony Howell_3 Funky restaurantsI 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

Pic5_Swings_Jo_CastroI 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

Pic4_Swings_Jo_Castro_Braised lamb ribs, roasted garlic, hummous and herb saladWhen you arrive you’ll be told that the menu is designed for sharing. You can build your own meals from a tapas style menu and the food comes out when it’s ready in no particular order.

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.

Must try

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

Pic8_Muster - Pic NB_taken from Website_cocktail-list1You’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

Morries

Pic1_Morries_Jo_Castro_3 Funky RestaurantsPic2_Morries_Whats_On_Jo_Castro_3 Funky RestaurantsPic3_Morries_Jo_Castro_master stock pork belly, thai caramel, micro coriander_3 Funky RestaurantsAt the top of Margaret River’s main street heading south, overlooking the park you’ll find Morries Anytime.

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.”

Tasty Tapas

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?

Coming soon from Johanna Castro: great stays at Loaring Place Bed and Breakfast and Art Gallery and Rosewood Guesthouse. Fabulous winery dining at Xanadu Wines and Rivendell Restaurant.

Johanna Castro

Author Johanna Castro

A gypsy heart and a geologist husband brought travel writer Johanna Castro from Cape Town to Bunbury in 2008. Exploring the South West region soon became a passion which led on to writing for The West Australian, Fodor’s Travel Guide and various tourism agencies. In 2010 she began blogging and created ZigaZag (focusing on South West Australia) and Lifestyle Fifty. Jo’s contributed to over 40 publications and lived in 11 different countries but her gypsy heart is now content as she continues to discover and write about the fabulous produce, fine wines and beautiful scenery of WA. www.zigazag.com | lifestylefifty.com | Facebook (ZigaZag) | Facebook (Lifestyle Fifty)

10 Comments

  • I have to agree with you on your choices, Jo. My only negative is the noise level in Morries. We found it hard to communicate with our waiter even. Perhaps cut the music when a the restaurant is full. Great food though.

  • Jo Jo says:

    Hi Denise, I’m glad you liked my choices. Yes, the food is fab at Morries, isn’t it. Thanks for your comment about the noise level. I’m sure Morries will take it on board to make their dining experience more perfect for everyone.

  • Avatar budget jan says:

    We lived in Perth for 2 years, prior to having children and visited Margaret River whenever we could. We were camping and don’t remember eating out at all. Next time we return (not too long I hope) we will definitely be sampling the restaurants. For starters I like the sound of the Casual French Bistro Style at Muster Bar and Grill.

  • Johanna Johanna says:

    Oh I know what you mean Jan … back in the day we couldn’t afford to go out … it was one pot meals for us by the campfire. Which we loved nonetheless! I’m so glad you are returning to Margs soon … these days you will find so much more to see, do … and eat.

  • Jacinta Jacinta says:

    Great article Jo!
    I am a bit fan of Morries – their pork belly is so good!
    Will have to give those other ones a try too – thanks for the recommendations ! 🙂

  • Jenny Jenny says:

    A few of us headed to Swings last Friday after work for pizza and wine. The atmosphere was great and the fire was roaring – perfect way to end the week if you ask me!

    • Jo Jo says:

      A perfect place to bring on the weekend, Jenny. How lovely, and how lucky we are to have such atmospheric places to wine and dine.

  • Avatar Hannah says:

    Morrie’s used to be my favourite, until I tried Arc of Iris next door! Pork belly blows Morrie’s out of the water, service is great and it’s BYO, so you can bring your own wine along.

  • Jo Jo says:

    I’ve never tried Arc of Iris, so thanks for the tip Hannah!

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