We’ve heard rumours about how incredibly delicious Leeuwin was. So when we finally began putting this blog idea into fruition, we knew that our first food expedition had to be somewhere epic. A wedding brought us down to Margaret River, so it seemed like the perfect weekend to finally book the infamous degustation at Leeuwin Estate… and thus beginning our journey as bloggers.
In all of our visits to Leeuwin, this was the first time that we got to walk past the cellar door to the restaurant. “Yes, we have a booking.” I answered with a smile and she walked us to the deck overlooking the grounds. The table was set beautifully for the degustation; bread plate, four forks, four knives, oyster fork, white and red wine glasses, water glass… the works. “What am I supposed to do with all of these forks?” Ryan asked as we were seated. Neither of us are big drinkers, so we decided to pass on the wine pairing dego and instead settled on a delicious bottle of red -2013 SIBLINGS- a shiraz with a full bodied malbec vibe.
First Course: Here’s the thing that you’re going to learn about me… I have a slight aversion to seafood. Since living in Perth I have grown comfortable with the idea of most fish. But oysters on the first course made me a little apprehensive. I was willing to suck it up, but Ryan graciously asked the waitress for a substitute for me. Two beautifully presented oysters on a plate of coarse salt arrived for Ryan, and to my utter delight a presentation of pickled radish, watercress and yogurt arrived for me! YUM! So fresh and delicious, on both accounts.
Second Course: Now, I said I don’t particularly care for seafood, but I loved the second course. Cuttlefish with pawpaw salad. The cuttlefish was served warm on top of the cool, crunchy pawpaw. The dish was well rounded with a delicious spice (ginger and tamarind) and great use of fresh herbs (mint and coriander). May we please have seconds?
Third Course: Veal Carpaccio. Enough said. I had high expectations for this dish and it did not disappoint. Complimented with picked veg, fresh watercress and creamy crème fraiche, the flavours complimented each other so incredibly well. Nothing was over powering and the veal remained the focal point of this course. Phew. Is it a bold call to say that this is my favourite dish? I think not.
- I’m going to take a tangent here to explain how hilarious it is to enjoy a luxurious degustation with a photographer. Food arrives, eyes light up, taking in the beautiful presentation, savouring the fragrance, lifting up my fork to enjoy this beautiful dish and… my plate is turned, my lunch companion has camera in hand, leaning in and zooming out for that perfect shot to portray the mood of the dish and the emotions of the meal. I bet we were a sight to see. The three of us; Ryan, his camera, and me.
Fourth Course: Once again, I had a dish alteration. Pork belly with Marron. Now I know Marron is not “sea food” technically… being a freshwater crustacean, and try as I might, I just can’t seem to fall in love with crustaceans. I received a double portion of pork belly and Ryan received the pond & paddock combo. I know I sound like I’m exaggerating, but trust me… this was the best pork belly I have ever had. I grew up in the USA and pork belly isn’t a common culinary item. My only exposure to it has been since arriving in Perth. From my understanding, pork belly needs to be crunchy on top, rich and moist throughout, a little bit salty and super delicious. Leeuwin’s pork belly was just that, with the added sweet of apple. Judging by how quickly Ryan devoured his pork belly and marron, I’d saw that that combination was delicious as well.
Fifth Course: To be honest, by this point, I was completely full. Not entirely sure how I was going to get another bite of food in my mouth, the main portion of our dego arrived. Szechwan Duck over a bitter salad combined with sweet spicy plums and cooled with crunchy cucumbers. The palette combination was wonderful. The duck was beautifully prepared, and Ryan loved it, but my favourite part of this dish was probably the plums… I did say that I was super full.
Sixth Course: The cheese platter arrived, almost too pretty to eat. A beautiful wedge of creamy white cheddar, accompanied by so many yummy fruits and spreads. The cheddar was mild but still had a nice tang. The spreads were light and just what we needed to finish off this delicious meal. And the pears could only be explained as “tasting like Christmas” (they were our favourite on the platter).
After three magical hours of eating, snapping photos, drinking Shiraz and talking we concluded that we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Leeuwin. Our server, Nina, was absolutely wonderful. She was knowledgeable on all of the menu items, attentive to our needs, and extra sweet when it came to my menu alterations.
Although I'm generally a pizza or burger kind of guy, I do enjoy a culinary adventure from time to time. Leeuwin provided a great setting, surrounded by nature, and the place had a generally chill vibe - despite being a Sunday of a long weekend. The first thing I worry about with degustations is not feeling full afterwards, but with fifth course being a large meaty chunk of duck (also very tasty), I was pleasantly well fed by our departure. Overall, it's definitely a special occasion kind of experience, as it is pricey, but worth the visit.
Would absolutely go back! I recommend the Leeuwin degustation to almost anyone, assuming you have the time and the funds (although, I think it was very reasonably priced). It’s a fantastic date spot, but would even be great for a group of girlfriends to enjoy the afternoon. The service was exceptional and the food was divine. Leeuwin set the bar. Be warned future restaurants we review… this is our new standard.