Journalist, historian and naturalist living in Perth's eastern suburbs.
Published February 2nd 2020
Delicious food marries top wines in a Swan Valley vineyard
The Riverbrook combines exceptional food with Upper Reach's renowned wines.
Only a few dining venues possess the magic to create those timeless golden memories we all hold dear, and one of these gems is the Riverbrook Restaurant and Cafe in the heart of the Swan Valley's beautiful Upper Reach Winery.
Shaded by trees and surrounded by verdant grapevines, with a sweeping view down to the river, the Riverbrook has a welcoming ambience that relaxes guests as soon as they enter, even before the smiling staff usher you to your table.
Open every day for breakfast and lunch, the venue offers you a choice of two exceptional dining areas, each with its own special charm.
Riverbrook owner Linda Grieveson, pictured with the restaurant's Bush Man sharing platter, and Upper Reach proprietor Laura Pearse make visitors more than welcome.
The spacious rustic dining room, with its tasteful dark décor and soaring gabled ceiling, is lit from three sides by walls of windows, creating a refreshing yet homely atmosphere.
This clever use of glass means guests always enjoy the vineyard views while staying cool and comfortable on the hottest days and cosy and warm when it's cold outside.
My wife and I visited the Riverbank for lunch on a balmy summer's day, so we opted to dine on the deck which looks out over the lawn, trees and ornamental lake to the vineyard beyond.
The shady deck area commands sweeping views over the Upper Reach vineyard.
Draped in the luxuriant foliage of an ancient vine, which renders the need for shutters all but redundant, this shady section faces the river and takes advantage of the afternoon breeze, resulting in an ideal alfresco spot on a warm day.
Like many good restaurants, the Riverbrook is run by a husband and wife team, and John and Linda Grieveson make their guests feel like part of the family, with ever-cheerful Linda ensuring everyone is happy in the dining areas while John creates his culinary delights in the kitchen.
Linda introduced us to a few of Upper Reach's award-winning wines and we chose a crisp verdelho, which we sipped while we soaked in the view and our sun-dappled surrounds and checked out the menu.
The beautifully presented food is as delicious as it looks.
For such a unique location and venue, the prices - with entrees from $14, mains from $22 and desserts from $10 – were more than reasonable, especially when you taste the exquisite fare that comes out of John's kitchen.
We opted to share an entree of deep-fried camembert ($15), which arrived promptly and was beautifully presented. Crunchy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside, it was nicely complemented with cranberry sauce and slaw, and made for a great appetiser.
For the main course, we ordered one of the Riverbrook's three sumptuous $66 sharing platters, the Bush Man – a selection of Australian bush tucker including grilled kangaroo in native pepper sauce, barramundi crumbed in macadamia nuts, chilli lime crocodile meatballs, emu sausage with quandong chutney, and house-made damper rolls.
The Riverbrook provides the perfect vantage from which to watch Upper Reach's popular twilight concerts.
It was even more tasty and filling than it sounds, with John's innovative culinary skills bringing out the variety of flavours and textures to perfection and demonstrating that Australia's native foods, prepared correctly, are on a par with any in the world.
We rounded the meal off with a coffee and petit desserts ($11) . Once again the presentation was faultless, with the tiny tart, cheesecake and chocolate surprise each containing a different delicious burst of sweetness.
When we finally tore ourselves away from the vineyard views and took our leave, we wandered into the adjoining Upper Reach Winery cellar door to buy a couple of bottles of the verdelho we'd fallen for.
Upper Reach owner Laura Pearse will introduce you to her award-winning wines.at the cellar door.
Here we were greeted by a smiling Laura Pearse who, with her husband Derek, established Upper Reach in 1997, after Laura abandoned far-away London to follow hers and her Aussie husband's dream of making their own wine in WA.
Now one of the Swan Valley's best known and most popular vineyards, Upper Reach not only produces award-winning wine but also runs winery tours and wine appreciation classes.
During February and March, the winery joins forces with the Riverbrook restaurant to present a series of popular twilight concerts where you can either watch the band from the restaurant and deck or enjoy the show with a picnic and a bottle of wine on the lawn.
To book for one of these exceptional evenings or ask about any of the other attractions that Upper Reach has to offer, visit www.upperreach.com.au or phone the winery on (08) 9296 0078.
We left Upper Reach and the Riverbrook with a new treasured memory and a vow to return to create more such memories in the near future.