At age 26, Matt Stone is one of Australia’s youngest culinary stars. Stone grew up in the town of Margaret River and started his career by apprenticing at Leeuwin Estate winery’s restaurant. Stone has since made a name for himself cooking boldly flavored dishes at Greenhouse restaurant in Perth, three hours north. The menus showcase the meats, cheeses, and produce of Margaret River. Here are some of Stone’s favorite places to eat and drink in his home stomping grounds.
MARGARET RIVER GOURMET ESCAPE
“Last year was the first Margaret River Gourmet Escape food and wine festival. The lineup of talent included star chefs such as René Redzepi, Alex Atala, and David Chang. The hub was Leeuwin Estate. We had a massive stage set up there for cooking demonstrations and culinary seminars. Atala and other chefs held intense talks geared toward professionals, but there were plenty of accessible programs for foodies. For instance, one night David Chang hosted a sunset barbecue on Smiths Beach.” Gourmet Escape will be held November 23–24. gourmetescape.com.au
“There’s a growing craft beer scene here, and Bootleg Brewery is one of the pioneers. The building is on 75 acres and overlooks a lake, making it a nice place to spend an afternoon. The brewery offers live music and a playground for kids. You can see the bottling and brewing through a window in the main room, and there’s a beer museum upstairs. They produce a half-dozen beers, such as Settlers Pale Ale, brewed with Tasmanian hops.” Puzey Road, Wilyabrup, 61/(0) 8-9755-6300, bootlegbrewery.com.au
“Growing up in Margaret River, this was one of my go-to spots. While it’s a casual pub, Settlers serves great food. The burger made with local beef is always a hit. If you’re really hungry, order the Reef and Beef. It comes with a black angus scotch fillet [rib-eye], a banana prawn from Kalbarri [north of Perth], calamari, and chips. You expect good beer at a pub, and they do have several local brews, but Settlers has won awards for its wine list. The outdoor concerts are nearly as big a draw as the food and drinks.” 114 Bussell Hwy., 61/(0) 8-9757-2398, settlerstavern.com
MARGARET RIVER FARMERS’ MARKET
“Every Saturday some of the region’s best farmers and artisans gather in the historic hospital building for the farmers’ market. Vendors sell olive oil, free-range eggs, chicken chorizo, goat sausage, and honey. The Farm House is one of the best purveyors of grass-fed lamb and free-range pork I’ve seen. Fre-Jac, a French bakery, makes amazing croissants, baguettes, and pies.” Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon. Corner of Tunbridge and Farrelly Streets, margaretriverfarmersmarket.com.au
“This boutique hotel is one of the best in the world. It’s really a special place, set on a vineyard with a lake and gardens less than five miles from the ocean. Once you’re there, it’s hard to leave the property. You can use the pool, get a spa treatment, take a cooking class, or even play croquet. The restaurant is open to anyone, not just hotel guests, and it serves very local, simple food that is well executed. Chef Tony Howell changes the menu daily, so you might see seared Abrolhos Islands scallops with Wagyu beef carpaccio one night and local venison with mushroom risotto another.” 341 Caves Rd., Yallingup, 61/(0) 897-556-311, capelodge.com.au
Illustration by Michael Hoeweler. This appeared in the May 2013 issue.