Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published January 9th 2017
A sprawling estate devoted to the pleasures of the table
One of the joys of being a food writer and reasonably well-known is that you get a lot of delightful suggestions about where to dine to get a good meal (and occasionally a bad one - people can be odd sometimes).
One of the places that has been recommended to me several times over the last few months is Mandoon Estate, so I was keen when taking lunch with a very old friend to suggest Mandoon, about which all I knew was 'It's great'.
Mandoon Estate, which you get to by going past Bandyup and under Reid Highway, is actually not so much one thing as several. A Beer Garden and Deli, a winery and cellar door sales, an Art Gallery, Homestead Brewery bistro and a very sophisticated fine dining restaurant.
The dining hall at Mandoon Estate (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
It was this last that we took lunch on a hot weekday, although every section of the estate was busy, even on a weekday.
Every area is superbly upkept. Immaculate, emerald green lawns neatly trimmed, row upon row of fecund leafy grape vines, cleanly varnished outdoor Jarrah, plashy fountains and inside, crisp white napery, charming efficient servers and a menu of polished tribute to the power of good food prepared under the aegis of Executive Chef Michael Hartnell.
The fountainat the entrance to the restaurant (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
It was just magnificent, rich and tasty, cleanly, elegantly balanced between flavours and textures.
We accompanied this with the server's suggestion - a charming Canadian girl - of the Mandoon Verdelho, acidic rather than sweet and perfect for the food. I do like it when servers make suggestions when asked. I think it shows they care about what they do and indicates a level of pride and engagement.
My main, also her suggestion, to help break the agony of indecision, was baldly described as 'Lamb rump, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, gratin, mint' ($38).
It was perfection, the lamb sublimely seasoned and cooked, served with a clear mint sauce with tiny flecks of green like gold leaf in Flaschengeist wine. Beautiful and jewel-like.
Tony's main course was a warm duck salad ($41) of crisp skinned duck breast with endive, broccolini, sherry, nectarine and pastilla; which in theory should conflict, but in fact blended with an elegant simplicity into a perfect whole.