One great thing we have in
is the ability to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and take a short drive and feel like you're somewhere else. Such is the drive eastwards to the Swan Valley region where almost a plethora of wineries await you. Most of them have daily wine tasting, and many of those have the bonus of a restaurant attached. With the general flavour of winery food being modern Australian, we have a great opportunity to sit back and relax to some good food and wine. Perth
So if you find yourself one day headed to that region, and you keep driving past the first wineries you see, you'll come across Brookleigh which amongst its vineyard and equestrian has the award winning restaurant Stewart's or sometimes known as Stewart's at Brookleigh.
As you arrive at Stewart's at Brookleigh, you get the feel that the restaurant is like a large house-turned-restaurant with indoor as well as semi-alfresco seating. With lots of wood grain, and views of trees and vineyards the overall feel is casual and relaxing. There is ample seating throughout, though on the busy weekends it is advisable to book ahead.
Upon perusal of Stewart's at Brookleigh's menu, you notice the range of varied offerings with international influences created by head chef Dean Williams that make up its modern Australian cuisine. With mains in the $30-40 region and a host of starters, entrees, desserts to match you can if you so desire see yourself spending a nice relaxing time there with or without some wine (with an emphasis on the local drop).
This dish was accompanied by poached pear, apricot, green olive and cranberry.
The camembert was lightly melted and oozed out without being too runny. The pistachio crust gave the camembert an attractive variation to your standard crumbed camembert and the combined taste enhanced the flavours of each other (cheese, nut and fruit perhaps?).
The addition of the sweetened poached pear and apricot gave good levels of sweetness to contrast and add a welcome level of palate refreshment to the cheese. The poached pear in particular held its form well and was soft, retained its pear texture, and nicely sweetened. The green olive was not of your highly salted variety and thus the texture and more “pure” olive taste was served to match the apricot well. The cranberry sauce was sweet yet light to also blend in with the overall feel of the dish and also added a bit of colour.
This dish was accompanied by shiitake spring roll, and surrounded by a mustard seed sauce.
The duck breast was meaty and quite thick without a large layer of fat common in duck dishes. It was cooked through giving it a very slight rubbery texture, but not overcooked to the extent it would be tough. The honey wasn’t very prominent in the taste of the duck but for an otherwise “simple to emphasise the duck flavours” dish it was served fine.
The shiitake (a type of Japanese mushroom) spring roll had shredded shiitake along with other vegetables such as carrot and onion, and was cut into three portions. The spring roll was packed tightly so as to have a uniform and well-held filling, and the tastes were light and not greasy so as to allow the shiitake mushroom taste to stand out.
This dish came with potato, spinach and beef cheek pie, and topped with a chimchurri sauce.
The black angus was ordered medium well done and was cooked correctly at that. Even with the longer cooking associated with medium-well versus my customary medium-rare preference, the black angus remained tender and relatively melt-in-your-mouth. The black angus was served with a chunk of fat intact which no doubt aided the tender and relatively juicy nature of the steak. The chimchurri sauce was strong in a cumin taste and added a pronounced mild spicy flavour.
The pie was nicely prepared with a soft and flaky pastry, softened long-cooked beef cheek and the mashed potato and small amount of spinach creating an overall nice warm home made pie feeling.
Even with the medium-well steak, I quite liked the way this dish was composed, cooked, and tasted.
This dish came with vanilla bean ice cream and butterscotch sauce.
The pudding itself was served warm, moist and dense; and had a good taste of the date and fig throughout it which also only marginally changed the otherwise cake-like texture.
The butterscotch sauce was rich and very sweet – a bit too sweet for me to handle in large amounts but that was fixed by adjusting each spoonful and not consuming the entire serving of butterscotch sauce (with my seemingly voracious appetite, I did fail at not spooning too much at times). The smooth vanilla bean ice cream accompanied the pudding by adding its cold and creamy texture though the warm temperature of the pudding, butterscotch sauce and plate caused the ice cream to melt fast.
In summary, Stewart's at Brookleigh is a nice casual restaurant close to Perth that shows what winery restaurant food is capable of. With a combination of modern Australian food and local wines, it's a great place to enjoy the Swan Valley.
Points to note: Award winning winery restaurant fine dining food with a selection of wines from local wineries as well as some other Australian wines on offer. Whilst the food does live up to expectations, it does come at a matched fine dining price. Stewart's Restaurant also caters for functions.
Go for: A nice relaxing meal of modern Australian food with some local wines in the Swan Valley.
Stewart's at Brookleigh
1235 Great Northern Highway
Upper Swan WA 6069
(08) 9296 6966
Wednesday to Saturday - 12 noon to 3pm (lunch); from 6pm (dinner)
Sunday - from 8am (breakfast); 12 noon to 3pm (lunch); from 6pm (dinner)