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Published July 24th 2016
What's to eat and drink in Willunga?
Every time I visit Willunga, I always think how spoilt we are for choice in dining and refreshment options, all within a short distance of each other, only a short drive away from Adelaide.
Willunga is a historic town nestled in the McLaren Vale wine region, about 47 kms south of Adelaide (around a 40-minute drive) and is well worth a visit to sample some of the local fare and soak up the ambience that the area has to offer.
Eight options to indulge yourself in are either on the main High Street or nearby in Hill Street.
The Old Bush Inn dates from 1839, the oldest pub in Willunga, and the rustic atmosphere as you walk through the door with its exposed wooden beams certainly sets the scene for a pleasant meal and ale or wine. Interestingly this is the third pub in Willunga to have the same name, with the current inn opening in 1901 on High Street.
Choice is definitely on the cards with a good range of meals on offer including Zucchini and Roasted Corn Fritters, Crab Cakes, Pizzas, Steaks, and Seafood as well as incorporating some local produce, for example in one of their starters, they offer a snack of Willunga Almonds and warm Pendleton Olives with sourdough.
Each night offers a different special, for example on Monday nights it is Rump and Red night, which presents a 300g rump steak and a glass of premium red wine for $16.
Prices on the menu for dinner mains vary between $18 and $32.
The great thing about this pub which adds to the overall atmosphere is the live music nights on Fridays and Saturdays, anything ranging from acoustic to cover bands and anything in between.
The pub is open 7 days from 11 am and lunch runs between 12 Noon and 2 pm with dinner from 6 pm - 8 pm Sundays to Wednesdays and 6 pm - 9 pm Thursdays to Saturdays.
The third pub in Willunga is the Alma Hotel, another historic pub dating originally from 1856 and located in Hill Street. The weekly specials in particular are well priced and cover a good range of food preferences including Tuesdays for a 300g Rump steak for $17, Wednesdays for Seafood night for only $15 and from Mondays to Thursdays, Soup and a Roast for $17.
Mains on the menu range between $17 and $26 and if you are taking the younger members of your family, there is a kids menu for only $7 with choices of Beef or Chicken Schnitzel, Beef Lasagne, Chicken Nuggets, Crumbed Fish, Vegetable Spring Rolls and Salt and Pepper Squid.
The Alma also boasts a social club which allows members to partake in darts competitions and 8-ball knockout contests and there are also regular musical events including DJs, Jazz and Karaoke.
Lunch is served between 12 Noon and 2 pm daily and dinner is between 6 pm and 8 pm Sunday to Thursdays and 6 pm until 8.30 pm Fridays and Saturdays.
Le Mistral can be described as a French restaurant with a Provencal influence and the owner was raised in Provence in the south of France. The name of the restaurant refers to a strong wind which blows from southern France into the northern Mediterranean and there is an obvious link to Willunga in that Willunga has been referred to as "Windy Hill" together with a similar climate and the olive groves and wineries which abound in both locations.
Wherever possible local cuisine is sourced, with one example being "La Bouillabaisse" - whole market fish, mix of seafood, Goolwa Pippis, prawns, poached saffron potato, fennel, leeks, bread and Rouille finished with Bouillabaisse soup.
With Creme Brulee and Profiteroles as part of the dessert menu, who could not love to give the place a try! Mains range between $28 and $38.
Le Mistral is open for lunch from Wednesdays to Sundays 12 Noon to 3 pm and for dinner from Wednesdays to Sundays 6 pm to 9 pm and is located on Hill Street just around the corner from the main High Street.
Whilst we are in the French mood, Willunga also offers another French establishment in High Street, La Terre which sources a lot of its fresh ingredients from the Willunga Farmers Market.
The difference with the French offerings here is that the bistro is only open day-times for breakfast and lunch, with french style breakfasts and light lunches available.
One of the top specials on offer for breakfast will set you back $23 which includes "La Terre" which is crispy truffle poached eggs on Andy's bread, mushrooms fricassee, herbs, salad and spicy jam together with a regular coffee and an orange juice! Bargain and sounds delicious! Prices for the breakfast menu range from $14 to $17 on average and is served from 9 am to 11.30 am Wednesday to Sundays.
The lunch menu, as you would expect is more expensive with mains ranging between $29 and $34 with some mouth-watering dishes including seafood, steak as well as chicken and lasagne.
The hours of opening of La Terre are normally Wednesday to Sunday from 8 am - 3 pm. I noticed on their window that they have been closed since the end of June for annual leave, however, they are due to re-open after 26th July.
A great name for an establishment that is housed in what was the Primitive Methodist Church building in High Street, the church dating from 1868. The couple running the establishment blend their unique skills to offer flavours mixing French style with local input. He comes from the UK and is a master chef and she is a local lass, from the Adelaide Hills.
Altar Bistro is open for lunch from 12 Noon to 3 pm (Thursday to Sunday) and dinner from 6 pm - 9 pm (Thursday to Saturday). Mains range from $31 to $38 and specialties include Duck Breast, Pork Belly and Barramundi Fillet.
For those of you who may wish to linger in the area, Altar Bistro also offer bed and breakfast accommodation with some cottages at the rear of the bistro. Included in the tariff is a bottle of McLaren Vale wine, fresh seasonal fruit, biscuits and sweets as well as continental breakfast. What a great way to get to discover even more of Willunga.
This establishment gives off a warm feeling as soon as you approach it, housed in an old stone building on High Street, but not only does it offer some fine food but also it has been set up as an international providore, with a whole range of smallgoods, cheeses, jams, wines, olive oils and other produce available for purchase. Events can also be held here, with meeting rooms available for hire.
The menu offers breakfast until 12 Noon and lunch until 3 pm. One of their specialties for lunch is a grazing plate comprising Barossa Fine Foods pate and prosciutto, pickled onion, cornichons (pickled gherkins), pumpernickel, toasted ciabatta, cheeses, glace fruits, almonds, relish, warm olives and salad for $35.
Breakfast is around $14 to $16 and lunch on average between $11 and $19. They are open from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm Monday to Friday and 8.30 am to 4 pm Saturdays and 9 am until 4 pm on Sundays.
The 3 Monkeys Fine Foods also has a gift shop which offers African market baskets, rugs, pate knives, mugs etc. If you have a special occasion coming up, you can also order cakes, an example being a 22 cm cake (wide range of options) which will serve between 8 - 10 people for $50. There are bigger cakes available as well as cupcakes.
Some of you may remember the old Golden Fleece service stations that were dotted around South Australia many years ago. One such station has been converted into a cafe in High Street at Willunga and styles itself on a casual dining atmosphere where you don't need to dress up to the nines. Anyone is welcome and on their website the owners list examples of the types of people who may visit - kids, dogs, motorcyclists, car enthusiasts, runners, walkers, sitters - that doesn't leave many of us out!
Breakfast and lunch are on offer and the hours are between early morning and late afternoon 7 days a week.
The Golden Fleece Cafe has a good range of fare catering for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free diners. Like a lot of the eating establishments in Willunga, local produce is sourced wherever possible including McLaren Vale free-range eggs. Lunch prices range from $13 to $20 and breakfast also the same price range.