14 May 2014
People who love to eat are always the best people - Julia Child (dunno who she actually is, but what a wise woman). A wonderful weekend down south is not complete without free cheese samples, mild sunburn, and a fancy meal. We braved the 15% public holiday surcharge and booked a table Arc of Iris for a lovely table of four. The prices included in this review reflect the public holiday menu and include the surcharge.
The traumatic moment of our meal was deciding how big our appetites were. We had to be realistic because everything on the menu looked really delicious and expensive. Eventually we had consensus about what to share between us: 2 entrées, 4 mains, and 4 desserts (duh, priorities).
Seared local scallops and venison chorizo ($20.70)
I usually declare that scallops can never be worth more than $5 a pop (eg. Funtastico where my discount wasn’t applied to the scallops so I almost died). However, these scallops blew my mind because they were absolutely perfectly cooked. The gorgeous chorizo on top was made of deer and tasted fantastic with the chutney. I found the pesto very out of place, but tasty enough to eat on its own. Salad, eh whatever.
Venison carpaccio ($19)
Again, we mostly ignored the boring rocket salad *shrugs*. More deer was on the menu with this venison carpaccio. The meat was very rare and thinly sliced as expected. Honey mustard sauce paired perfectly with the meat and capers added a little zing and sourness. I left a few capers behind because they threatened to overwhelm the delicate flavours of the meat.
Crispy local pork belly ($36.25)
My pork belly paired well with the sweet apple sauce, pickly red cabbage, and sticky balsamic reduction. I found the meat ever-so-slightly dry but the fat layers were still juicy. Amazing crackling, very very crunchy. If it wasn’t for the other mains that arrived on the table, this dish would have impressed me more.
Local Southwest beef fillet ($43.70)
Omg food envy. The gorgeous and enormous gratin dauphinoise (potato bake) was deliciously creamy. Each potato sliver was perfectly cooked so cutting through the block was super satisfying. Caramelised onions added a tart sweetness to cut through the hefty 250g chunk of medium-rare meat. To be a little bit fancy, there was shiraz jus (juice) swimming about underneath the steak.
Local rack of lamb, honey-mustard-rosemary marinated ($40.85)
The lamb was a delicate medium-medium rare inside, with an amazing smoky flavour outside (just-a-tiny-bit-burnt on top aaah yum). Generous scoops of buttery creamy mash made me drool, so my friend let me share it. It tasted incredible with the shiraz jus that also featured on this plate.
Roasted half duck ($41.40)
I’m usually sceptical of Asian fusion dishes in Western restaurants (but I’m often pleased with the reverse, eg. The Bonsai). This duck lived up to expectations set by the incredible menu description which promised peanuts, chilli, ginger, and hoi sin sauce. It cost double the price of my fav roast duck restaurant (Good Fortune) but it seemed worthwhile. Only the bland bok choy and bean sprout stir fry betrayed the restaurant’s non-oriental origins.
Chocolate hazelnut pudding ($13.25)
AAAAAH this was my incredible dessert!! The moist cake was rich with chocolate and nuts. I would probably have been pleased to eat the cake on its own. However, it was the 3 little shotglasses that took my dessert to a league of its own. An incredibly smooth chocolate ganache smeared like god’s own Nutella over the warm cake. It was something that I would eat in bulk instead of chocolate mousse if I had a larger appetite and didn’t mind diabetes.
The creamy vanilla ice cream and tangy berry compote were also fantastic. Everything mixed together was so. freaking. good. I thought that Bonsai in Northbridge was my favourite dessert spot, but this might take the cake (HAH PUN!)
Homemade sticky date pudding ($13.25)
The hazelnut-butterscotch sauce definitely looked like vom, but was rich and full of flavour. A real winter-warmer despite the vanilla ice cream. My friend loved his dessert and even I enjoyed a spoonful (despite my usual aversion to Western puddings).
Seasonal fruit crumble ($13.25); nougat ($5.75)
Whoa. This is what fruit crumbles around the world should live up to (particularly the Belasyse which recently served up a crappy crumble). A gorgeous chunky thick layer of delightful crumble covered a warm ramekin dish full of perfectly poached fruit. Not to leave anyone disappointed, this dessert also included a scoop of lovely vanilla ice cream. Also my friend succumbed to gluttony and ordered nougat to finish his meal. He said it was very nice and just the right consistency.
Arc of Iris is an upmarket restaurant with quality food and service (and prices) to match, but the inside is kitschy and casual. Our food cost about $65pp including the public holiday surcharge. BYO is a very reasonable $5 per bottle, so there’s a good option for booze! Service was lovely and friendly all night, plus free tap water is happily provided.
It isn’t often that I grit my teeth and spend this kind of money on a meal, but everything was delicious and we ordered almost 3 courses each. This restaurant is definitely worth trying if you’re around the Margaret River area (and, if not, just pick a designated driver haha).
Likes: fantastic food, great service, chocolate pudding to die for
Dislikes: manager gently suggested that we leave to make room for other diners (which was silly because other tables were empty)
Value for money: the food quality justifies higher prices (but beware the 15% public holiday surcharge)
Overall: would defs visit again for another fancy “holiday” dinner
151 Bussell Hwy
Margaret River WA
(08) 9757 3112