It may be famous for its vines but there’s more to the Margaret River region than cab savs…
Cafe culture is on the rise, with cool new venues giving travellers another reason to visit, says Jennifer Ennion.
If you’re an appreciator of fine wine, or a foodie simply aching to discover the next hot culinary spot – Margaret River can cater. From tasty travels along the rustic back roads of the river, to the Superchef-recommended offerings at the Gourmet Escape, it’s safe to say Margaret River is well and truly serving up dishes designed to light your world on fire. Boom!
Here are some of the best food haunts to plan a trip around…
Renowned for big swell and beautiful beaches, Margaret River has plenty of places for surfers to grab a bite to eat and one of the best is White Elephant Cafe, in Gnarabup. Head there for a simple but tasty breakfast of bircher muesli or Spanish baked eggs, and watch the wetsuit-clad locals rock up for their post-surf caffeine hit. Although the menu is typical of coastal cafes Australia wide, White Elephant Cafe makes our list of places to check out due to its position on the edge of the sand at Gnarabup Beach. Head there on a warm morning in summer and you’ll find it hard to drag yourself away.
For vintage vultures
Travel back in time at the new Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage Cafe below Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. The cottage was restored as part of a one-million-dollar renovation of the grounds and makes for a top spot to spend a couple of hours after a lighthouse tour. The relaxed eatery is great for families as meals are large and there is plenty of space for kids to run around outside – plus there’s a maritime-themed playground. Another selling point is the interior styling. The cafe’s handful of rooms transport visitors back to the 1900s with floral armchairs, lamps, collections of second-hand books and – the best bit – old-fashioned games, such as Connect Four. As for the food, go with an appetite as you’ll want to devour the toasted gourmet focaccias. End with a monstrous slice of banoffee pie, served on vintage crockery, and you’ll be planning your next visit before you exit the gates.
For wine lover
A cross between a café and restaurant, Chow’s Table is the newest eatery in Margaret River and has been a hit with locals since opening in May. Located in Yallingup, it’s a great place for travellers exploring the region’s vineyards, including House of Cards Winery, which is on the same property. Chow’s Table is a stylish share-plate lunch option, with plenty of natural light and beautiful interior touches, such as the wicker ceiling lanterns and wall of pot plants. The best way to describe the Chinese/Malay menu is upmarket street-hawker. There’s no overuse of ingredients in the dishes and everything is cooked to perfection. Order the fried prawn wontons to begin with and then indulge in the crispy roast duck.
For busy folk
If you’re after a quick feed or want something easy for the kids, call into Snatch in Dunsborough. This is an old-fashioned diner specialising in hot dogs and bao buns with creative flair. Forget your typical hot dog; here you can pick up a ‘sphinx’ with vegan sausage, kimchi, spinach, chilli jam and vegan mayo. Or you could try the ‘loch ness’ bao bun with roast pork belly, smoky barbecue sauce, avocado, slaw and mayo. Trust me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the alternative menu. Another reason I like this place so much is that everything is made to order which translates to fluffy buns and fresh ingredients. Plus, along with the vegan choices, there are vegetarian and gluten-free options. If you do want to linger, pull up a chair at one of the dinettes and grab a bottle of organic kombucha or apple cider vinegar tonic.
For digital nomads
The Good Egg has to be one of the most appealing – and popular – cafes in Margaret River. Situated in the northern coastal suburb of Busselton, The Good Egg hides in a strip of warehouse buildings. But that makes the find all the more wonderful. Digital nomads will love this spot as there is a large cafe on the ground floor and an open and comfortable co-working space upstairs. There’s no cost to use the office desks and you’re obviously more than welcome to enjoy the raw desserts and acai bowls as you tap away at your laptop. Less than a year old (opened August 2017), The Good Egg is vibrant and welcoming.
For bike fanatics
If you’re the kind of person who wakes with the sun to race around your home town on a bicycle, or you’d like to be, then you’ll love Melo Velo. Although it’s slightly out of the Margaret River catchment, in Bunbury, it’s made this list because it’s unique. A café, bicycle shop and fitness centre in one, Melo Velo has been a hit since opening in October 2017. On Saturdays, the place is packed with lycra-clad cyclists getting a post-ride coffee or protein ball. Twice a week, the healthy and fit head upstairs for a spin class, while there’s also mountain biking tours and workshops for teens. If you just want to pop in for a quick cuppa and light lunch you can do that, too, and while you wait for your order you can tempt yourself with the stylish bike accessories in the well-stocked shop.