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Published June 23rd 2016
The perfect place to head to after a walk around Willunga
There are some delightful walking trails around the township of Willunga and some very inviting cafes and restaurants to drop into for lunch after a walk.
I had heard good reports about 'Au Pear', a French inspired eatery, on the main road, not far from the High Street. After completing one of the walking trails recently, a friend and I went along to reward ourselves with lunch and enquire about the origin of the name 'Au Pear'.
We introduced ourselves to the owner, Muff, who said she had chosen to name her restaurant after the Ornamental Pear trees near the terrace. She is training the trees to form a canopy so that those guests who prefer an al-fresco lunch experience can enjoy a shady spot on the terrace during summer.
We were lucky to complete our walk before the heavens opened and by the time we reached Au Pear there was no possibility of eating on the terrace due to the rain. Besides, the Ornamental Pears had dropped all their leaves for winter. I can imagine a leafy terrace bathed in dappled sunlight on a future visit but this visit called for a table inside.
Muff told us the story of how the restaurant evolved from a house among the vines to it's present manifestation. It's a large and airy, light-filled room with rustic touches, a chunky timber bar at one end and pears. Lots of pears.
The atmosphere felt relaxed and calm so we settled in to contemplate the menu. There are two set menus available:
Three courses for $60 per person, comprising an entree, then a shared platter with pork belly, apple mustard puree, pumpkin and mandarin osso buco, soft taleggio polenta and beans, buffalo scotch fillet, smoked swede puree, roasted Jursalem artichokes and potato gratin. Finally, a dessert of your choice dessert.
Or you can choose four courses for $72 per person, which includes all of the above plus a second entree of pan fried gnocchi, sauteed mushroom, creamy gorgonzola sauce and gremolata.
My friend, Gaynor, decided the four course option was, perhaps, a little too ambitious for lunch, even after a walk, but loved the sound of the gnocchi and ordered an entree-sized serve.
Gaynor loved it and, after a taste, I agreed it was divine. The gnocchi was pillowy-soft and the creamy gorgonzola sauce was heavenly.
I decided to stick with the french theme and order the rabbit ravioli in chicken ginger broth with broad beans and cauliflower. The broth was very flavoursome but the ravioli itself was a little bland to my taste. I requested some parmesan cheese to add a bit of zing.
We each ordered a salad of roast beetroot, feta and dukkah which was fresh and tasty, and I was very tempted by the almond pear cider bread with tapenade and herbed labne. It was either the bread or dessert later. Dessert won this time but I'll go back and try the bread one day when the terrace is bathed in dappled sunlight.
Still of a mind to follow the theme, I chose the wine poached pear for dessert. It came with house-made mint ice cream and a chocolate and hazelnut 'soil'. The 'soil' was the texture of soft biscuit crumbs and very luscious.