Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Must Margaret River, Margaret River

One of our popular traditions in Perth is to go down South for a day trip, a weekend trip, or a longer relaxing stay.  Although I don't get down often enough I do enjoy the laid back and comforting atmosphere, and the breathtaking views to be had.  Coupled with the local wineries and breweries, and the decent choice of good food that emphasise local produce, a trip down South is a must for all locals who like to get away and enjoy themselves.

In terms of choice for that good food, Must Margaret River is considered one of the better restaurants down South and is the younger sibling of Must Winebar in Mount Lawley.  Both Must restaurants have made a name for themselves offering excellent food with extensive and impressive wine lists.  Both restaurants are also ideally located with Must Winebar in the heart of Mount Lawley's Beaufort Street strip, whilst Must Margaret River is in the heart of Margaret River's main strip on Bussell Highway.

From the outside, Must Margaret River looks modern and trendy.  Upon entering, this is continued with contemporary design and distinct design features.  Must Margaret River's decor pays tribute to Margaret River's wine region, with numerous large wine racks filled with wine bottles lined around the restaurant.  The whole atmosphere combines classy upmarket dining with casual South West charm.

To go with the design and its Margaret River location, Must is fully licensed with an extensive list of wine from various regions (and fittingly with an emphasis on Margaret River wines), as well as cocktails and other bar drinks.  The wine list is so good that it was a finalist in the Gourmet Traveller Wine List of the Year Awards for Western Australia in 2009 (incidentally, the related Must Winebar in Mount Lawley won the award).  In addition, Must Margaret River won some WA Catering Awards in 2009 including Best New Restaurant.

Food wise, Must has a different menu for lunch versus dinner.  To be expected, the dinner menu is more extensive and seemingly fancier.  However, that isn't to say that much should be taken away from the lunch menu as despite its more limited choices, there's sure to be something for every Must customer on that menu.  For lunch, in addition to some a la carte choices, Must had a special set menu available which costs either $33 for two courses, or $44 for three courses.  Both come with a glass of red or white.  To me, that's pretty good value.

Seafood chowder

The seafood chowder was of a typical creamy taste and texture, and the prominent seafood ingredient seemed to be fish.  However, the seafood chowder didn’t smell or taste overly “fishy” like some other seafood chowders I have had which probably means either the seafood was fresh or it was cooked fresh and well.

The whole chowder's subtle flavours, yet hearty taste made this a nice entree that was well balanced.  Even though this was mainly fish based, I enjoyed the way it was made.

Must Charcuterie Plate of Jarradene Free Range Pork - $28

This dish is a Must specialty.  It is designed as a plate to share, offering samples of four different specially made items neatly compiled onto a plate.  The items were:
  • Jambon Persillé; a pickled pork and parsley terrine
  • Paté en croute with Peach Chutney
  • Rillettes with Cornichons
  • Black Olive Tapenade
Overall, the dish consisted of some well prepared food that contained well matched flavours and ingredients that made this almost a delicate tasting plate rather than an entree that uses strong or overpowering flavours.  Of note, the terrine's pickled pork was nicely subtle in flavour - not having a strong pickle taste, and the black olive tapenade too had a definite olive flavour but without being too strong or salty.

Whilst not being an antipasto or filling tasting plate (such as those containing Turkish bread), the Charcuterie plate offered some nicely prepared meats that was like a light appetiser - there to whet the tastebuds.

Slow braised lamb shank pie

The lamb shank pie was served with potato puree and green olive salad

The pie's pastry was light and a little flaky but held its form well.  With the pastry nicely moulded around the filling, the balance between the pastry and filling was good.  The lamb shank was soft (probably as a result of the slow braising process) and the pie's lamb based filling was completed with softened vegetables and a mild but pleasant flavour base.

The pie was placed on a bed of vegetables, and a potato puree that was consistent, smooth and soft.

Grilled Augusta 8 bar cod fillet

The cod fillet was served with parsnip puree and a watercress salad.

The cod seemed fresh and cooked just right.  As a result the fish had a nice texture, was soft and yet held its shape well.  The taste was subtle allowing the fish flavours to come through, and the cod's skin was crispy and tasty, but didn’t give a strong "fish" taste that is often associated with fish skin.

The bed of parsnip puree was very smooth and was subtle rather than overpowering in parsnip taste.  The salad was fresh and the lightness complemented the subtle fish dish.

Beef Rib Eye, with the bone 500g - $48

The beef rib eye was served with crushed Kipfler Potato and Bridgetown Organic smoked garlic butter.  The condiments were French mustard, onion-cabernet jam, salsa verde and either Bearnaisé sauce or Green Peppercorn Jus.

Must states that all their beef is sourced from ‘Daniels Well’ near Albany.  The cows are apparently fattened on a special grain ‘muesli’ for 80 to 100 days.  They are then dry aged in Must’s refrigerated beef cellar for at least 30 days.  Must also states that the beef rib eye dish can be shared between two, but if you're a bit of a decent eater then you should have no problem eating this to yourself.

The beef cellar

The beef was ordered medium rare and was cooked just right.  I am told that Must (as well as many other good steak establishments) use a process of searing and exacting controlled oven cooking to prepare each steak to the customer's order.  It seems to work.

The accompanying sauces

The crushed potato was nice and soft enough to eat, adding the potato to the otherwise
"meat and potato" dish.  The sauces were nicely prepared and the combination of four sauces gave a bit of variety and the novelty of being able to taste test each one.

Chocolate tart

The chocolate tart was served with poached quince and double cream.

The chocolate tart filling's texture was uniform and consistent, with a good density.  Eating it, it had a rich almost creamy feel.  The base was firm and not crumbly and all up the tart was nicely made and nice to eat.

The rich double cream and slightly refreshing quince finished the dish off for a rich dessert that didn't feel too heavy.

Cambozola blue cheese

The Cambozola blue cheese was from Blue Cow Cheese Company, and served with Sebbes Road honey comb and pistachio crackers.  The Cambozola had only a light blue cheese flavour, and was creamy like a camembert.

The combination of the items worked well, with the crisp light pistachio crackers forming a base for the Cambozola blue cheese and the honeycomb adding a nice sweetness to round off the cheese's savoury flavour.  In particular, I really liked the addition of the honey comb as I thought this added a nice touch.

Russo from Swings and Roundabouts

With the two or three course set lunch menus, a glass of wine was served.  This wine above was from the local winery Swings and Roundabouts.

In summary, Must Margaret River offers excellent fine dining food with an impressive wine list.  It makes a great place to visit for a nice relaxing dinner with good food and wine for any trip down South.

Points to note:  The lunch menu is different from the dinner menu.  The lunch menu has some great set menu deals.

Go for:  An excellent fine dining restaurant in Margaret River.

Must Margaret River
107 Bussell Highway
(08) 9758 8877

Trading Hours
7 days - 12 noon till late

Must Margaret River on Urbanspoon

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