Just outside Perth and famed for its vineyards, Swan Valley is also blooming with local food, from sumptuous pork belly to fresh mudcrab and gnocchi.
Image credit: K Darius Photography
Best degustation: Oscar’s at Guildford Landing1/15
With its ornate lighting, rich timber tones, velvet seats and roaring fire, Oscar’s is all old-world charm – the ideal setting to savour a three-, four- or six-course tasting menu by local talent Justin Hughes, who trained at Sydney’s Becasse before a three-year stint at Rockpool, Hughes’s menu is a simple yet sophisticated, using herbs and greens grown on the property and his own in-house dry-aged beef, sustainably sourced seafood and produce from local growers – all paired with the finest WA wines.
114 Swan Street, Guildfold; 0424 389 487
Image credit: Kevin McGinn
Best atmosphere: Taphouse Mulberry Estate2/15
“Without atmosphere, a painting is nothing,” said Rembrandt and one would say the same thing about pubs, which is why the Taphouse is a favourite. You can grab a table in the beer garden on the banks of the Swan River or throw down a picnic rug under the dappled light of the gum trees and listen to the children playing on the mini-golf course while tucking into a mac and cheese croquette with truffle oil aioli and chives.
34 Hamersley Road, Caversham; (08) 9379 0344
Best casual dining: Old Young’s Kitchen3/15
Sitting outside at Old Young’s Kitchen, as shafts of sunlight fall through overhanging vines and shadows spirit across timber trestle tables, you could swear you were in a villa in Umbria. That is, until you try the distinctively Australian fare featuring native ingredients such as bush tomato, finger lime and youlk. Start with a gin cocktail and drift along to any of the Asian fusion mains – perhaps the sumptuous pork belly or the market fish with house miso crème fraîche and lemon myrtle. Wrap it all up with a burnt meringue or local cheeses with honeycomb, date paste and apricot gel.
10581 West Swan Road, Henley Brook; (08) 9296 6656
Best winery: Sittella4/15
When it comes to wineries, the Swan Valley is an embarrassment of riches but no treasure glitters quite like Sittella. Here you’ll find quality wines, impeccable service, a rustic cellar door and views of landscaped gardens and undulating vineyards raking the hillsides. Famed for its sparkling wines, Swan Valley Reserve shiraz and Margaret River Reserve chardonnay, Sittella offers tastings of up to four wines, vineyard tours, a restaurant helmed by former Savoy Hotel chef Mike Price, who plates up wasabi-dressed smoked salmon and lamb ragù with housemade pappardelle.
100 Barrett Street, Herne Hill; (08) 9296 2600
Image credit: Yahava KoffeeWorks
Best coffee: Yahava KoffeeWorks5/15
Follow the aromas of freshly roasted beans to Yahava KoffeeWorks, where a complimentary coffee tasting and chocolate-coated coffee beans will greet you. A coterie of passionate, peppy staff will help you to choose from a selection of single-origin coffees or their own unique blends made from arabica beans sourced from 20 different locations, from Papua New Guinea to Italy.
4752 West Swan Road, West Swan; (08) 9250 8599
Image credit: Maison St Honoré
Best brunch: Maison St Honoré6/15
This café started small, showcasing the most petite of French delicacies, the macaron, but it now boasts the best French-style brunch in the valley. Say oui oui oui! to a freshly baked croissant, croque monsieur or smashed avo on a baguette, which you can enjoy in the converted barn-style interior or on the verandah while the kids romp around in the playground.
100 Benara Road, Caversham; (08) 9377 4674
Image credit: The Henley Brook
Best family restaurant: The Henley Brook7/15
Upon catching sight of this country-style pub, children are known to rush with gleeful abandon to the play areas spread out across a large paddock. While you and your partner clink wine glasses beside a roaring fire, soak up the live music and scoff down a tasting plate of Hen-made pâté, prosciutto, chorizo, marinated olives, cornichons, sundried tomato and fetta. The kids? They’ll be whooshing through the air on rope swings, shooting hoops or making bush cubbies.
9810 West Swan Road, Henley Brook (08) 9296 2985
Best newcomer: Swan Valley Wines8/15
Swan Valley Wines is a must-visit boutique winery for anyone wanting to keep their finger on the viticultural pulse. Tucked away in the gravelly loam soils of the state’s oldest wine region, Swan Valley Wines is celebrated for its natural winemaking and commitment to protecting bio-cultural diversity, not to mention its rock star chenin blanc and funky reds.
261 Haddrill Road, Baskerville; 0450 648 918
Image credit: Pinelli Estate
Best Italian: Pinelli Estate9/15
In Italy, nothing matters more than family and feasting, and here you can find both in this superb culinary homage to the Pinelli family’s Italian heritage. Swirl a glass of premium wine as you take in the splendid vista from the alfresco dining area and muse upon whether you’d like the duck à l'orange with braised cabbage and roasted carrot, the Mediterranean moussaka or linguine with clams.
30 Bennett Street, Caversham; (08) 9279 6818
Image credit: Lamont’s
Best classic: Lamont’s10/15
The Lamont's have been producing wines since 1978, making Corin Lamont one of the founding mothers of the state’s premium wine and food industry, and her daughters continue the tradition today. Whether you’re there for the mouthwatering coconut crumbed prawns or the pancetta-wrapped field mushrooms with whipped feta and pomegranate syrup, this establishment is blissfully bereft of pretension.
85 Bisdee Road, Millendon; (08) 9296 4485
Image credit: Tourism Western Australia/Illustrations Photography
Best fine dining: Mandoon Estate11/15
Mandoon in the Noongar language means “place of many trees” but it has also come to mean place of abundant pleasures. We could celebrate Mandoon’s winery, its luxe accommodation or its bottomless brunch but the Wild Swan restaurant deserves a standing ovation. Chef Michael Hartnell has brought his international culinary adventures into conversation with the region’s seasonal produce to create an à la carte and tasting menu, including venison tartare with rhubarb and or lamb rump with zucchini, garlic, smoked spinach and wattle seed jus.
10 Harris Road, Caversham; (08) 6279 0500
Image credit: Valley Social
Best pub: Valley Social12/15
With its onsite brewery, luxurious spirit lounge, stylish main bar, alfresco dining area and picnic tables overlooking acres of verdant lawns and vineyards, Valley Social is so much more than a mere pub. This “new brewery concept” is a vast drinking palace that has something for every-sized group and all varieties of palates. Feast on the American barbecue-style bar food while quaffing down your flight of four beer tasters, a traditional Bavarian-style wheat beer or the signature Bloody Mary featuring hemp seed.
8731 West Swan Road Henley Brook; (08) 9226 5566
Image credit: Fran Howlet
Best view: Riverbank Estate13/15
Panoramic views of vineyards and the gentle rise and fall of hills can become a bit ho-hum in the Swan Valley. Vistas are everywhere, like breathtaking churches are everywhere in Rome. That is, until you drive up to Riverbank Winery – a place that redefines the meaning of “spectacular view”. Standing on a timber verandah, glass of verdelho in hand, a plate of marron and housemade gnocchi in front of you, your eyes will travel from manicured lawns, down rows of grapes to a shaded riverbend then up over the hilltops, where the sky brushes the earth.
126 Hamersley Road, Caversham; (08) 9377 1805
Best detour: Limeburners & Giniversity14/15
Earn your degree (or at least have a fun afternoon) in gin-making – black truffle gin is a new favourite – and whisky production, all in the space of a day. Whether you want to pop in for a cellar door tasting; a bite of farmhouse pork chorizo, gruyère and dried fig; or while away the day or evening in the restaurant, where you can wolf down a whiskey bacon pizza, a team of experts can educate your palate in a delightful array of craft spirits.
45 Hyem Road, Herne Hill; (08) 9296 6190