Despite only being in her twenties, Maddie Coomer is already something of a hospitality veteran. She’s grown up in the industry – her father is legendary Perth chef and restaurateur David Coomer – and she’s been working in restaurants since high school. Coomer runs Walt’s Cnr Deli in Claremont, which keeps her busy, but this epicurean will make time to travel for fine food and wine.
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Here’s Coomer’s pick of places to eat and drink that are worth the road trip.
A 50-minute drive south of Perth is Millbrook Winery, an award-winning winery at Chestnut Farm, on a property that backs onto the Serpentine River. “It’s such a beautiful place,” says Coomer. “The head chef [Guy Jeffreys] used to work for my dad [at Star Anise].” Dishes such as barbeque duck hearts with plum and kampot pepper sit beside braised-rabbit risotto with bacon and wild fennel, and fig, pork, bean and radish salad. The restaurant’s No Waste Mondays have a special lunch using, “all the veggies that were picked throughout the weekend and weren’t used up,” from Millbrook’s own garden. “For just $50 for three courses, it’s a steal.”
Dunsborough, on the shores of Geographe Bay, is an idyllic spot about 250 kilometres south of Perth. “I don’t get down south as much as I’d like to,” says Coomer. “But Yarri is a lovely little bar to sit at.” Yarri Restaurant and Bar is co-owned by the co-founders of Snake + Herring Wines, Redmond Sweeny and Sal and Tony Davis, and chef Aaron Carr (formerly at Vasse Felix for 17 years). The menu reflects the six seasons of the region: raw scallops on discs of crisp Jerusalem artichoke, or wood-roasted octopus lifted with a fermented orange sauce. “Last time we had the degustation,” says Coomer. “There was this sardines dish with fennel jam and green tomato. Delicious.”
The first vineyard established in the Margaret River region is still one of the most beloved. “We’ve been going there as a family since I was little,” says Coomer. “Their chardonnays are always fantastic.” Cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and sauvignon blanc-semillon blends are also specialties at Vasse Felix, all of it estate-grown in four vineyards. The fine-dining restaurant offers vegetarian, pescatarian and vegan options. Native ingredients such as saltbush and Geraldton wax appear alongside the likes of kangaroo pastrami. Guests can also enjoy a wine flight and cheese and charcuterie platter in the wine lounge.
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen
Kenny McHardy’s tiny kitchen hinges on a single wood-fired oven. From it the acclaimed NZ-born chef produces everything from bread and pizza to vegetables and meat. “It’s a small ex-pizza joint located in Fremantle,” says Coomer. “Pretty much the entire menu comes out of a wood fired oven. They source local, seasonal produce and the drinks list is all WA also. The menu constantly changes, but would recommend getting the tasting menu, where you get a great selection of dishes to share.”
Bread in Common
With its exposed-brick walls, long communal tables and moody lighting, Bread in Common is a favourite among Fremantle locals and visitors alike. Bread, unsurprisingly, is the star at the casual-dining hotspot, cooked in hand-built ovens named Hansel and Gretel at the rear of the premises. “They do a really fantastic sourdough that you’ll see around Perth everywhere,” says Coomer. “Every time I go there, they’re doing something different. The menu’s always changing. They do their own pickling on-site.” The kitchen uses truffles from the Coomers’ truffle farm in Manjimup when they’re in season.
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