Once upon a time there was a Margaret River cellar door restaurant called Arimia. It lived at the end of an unsealed road and was surrounded by scrub, fauna and tranquillity. Initially, its food offering was homely and comforting, with a woodfired pizza oven doing plenty of lifting. And then came chef Evan Hayter who, together with Arimia’s owner Ann Spencer, spent a decade gently steering the estate’s food and drink offering in an inspiring, earthier and more DIY direction.

A kitchen garden was established. Duroc-Saddleback pigs were brought onto the property to help regenerate the land and supply the kitchen with delicious estate pork. Trout was reared in winter streams. In short, Arimia wove a compelling story of farm-to-table deliciousness, a story that sadly ended in June when the farm restaurant celebrated its final service. In January, however, Arimia’s next chapter begins with the opening of De’sendent, a high-end 35-seat restaurant that picks up where Spencer and Hayter’s original left off.

Why should we be excited about the imminent opening of De’sendent? Let us count the ways. One: while Margaret River is home to many flash places to dine (hi Vasse Felix, hi Leeuwin Estate, hi Voyager), De’sendent will be in the township itself and is moving into a former rug store at the top of Bussell Highway. Two: Spencer and Hayter want the space to be versatile and hope guests will celebrate special occasions with them as well as feel comfortable enough to drop in for a snack and a drink. And three: whereas Arimia was a vision of Australian farmhouse calm and hospitality, De’sendent is a more contemporary space that reflects Hayter’s tastes and aesthetic.

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Interior designer Kerry Brooks has designed a sleek, intimate 35-seat space finished with dark timber plus high-end Australian-made fixtures and furniture. The restaurant’s name is a nod to Hayter’s love of punk music as well as the restaurant being a descendent of Arimia. Its logo was hand-drawn by Hayter’s late brother. This time, it’s personal.

“[Opening De’sendent] has given me an opportunity to create a space that's more me from the get-go,” says Hayter. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to make things perfect and moving into a new space has added to that. I know you can’t achieve perfection, but God I want to give it a crack.”

Although there’s plenty of Hayter in the space, the menu – as it was at Arimia – will be very much driven by producers. Among the ingredients our man is working hard to get onto the opening menu: local full-blood Wagyu, hand-caught south-west sea urchin, plus other lesser-seen fish species. (The central location of the restaurant will also make it easier for suppliers to drop ingredients to him rather than Hayter having to drive around the region picking things up.) Plans are afoot to establish additional farms so Hayter can recommence growing his own produce but, for the moment, the focus will be on working with suppliers Hayter trusts and doing the right thing by their ingredients.

“Japan’s culinary world and the way chefs approach ingredients is a massive influence on the way that I approach the ingredients that we get in the south-west,” says Hayter. “I definitely don’t do Japanese food, but it’s more about getting flavour out of something and plating things up in a really refined and respectful way.”

In the same way Japan will inform Hayter’s cooking approach, Japanese kaiseki dining will also shape the guests’ experience: chefs will operate out of an open kitchen and serve guests – I’m expecting the bar seats to be among the hottest seats in the house – while sake joins local and international wines alongside sharp cocktails on the drinks list.

De’sendent (152 Bussell Highway, Margaret River) opens on January 25, 2024. Reservations are available online at desendent.com.