On our final day in Margaret River, having tried all of our A-list wineries, we agonized over a decision to choose either Woody Nook or Wills Domain – both were highly recommended and both score highly on TA. We chose Woody Nook, much to our regret…
Although Easter Saturday is one of the busiest days of the year, our experience wasn’t tainted by the large number of people both dining – and being turned away – here. For a start, the highly acclaimed setting is not very attractive, with the main part of the dining area facing straight onto the car park. The indoor section is stuffy and dim, and should be completely avoided. And you can dispel any ideas of a quaint hidden-gem location – this restaurant is factory sized, seating 120 and turning over more than 170 covers on peak days.
The menu looked promising, and despite lacking any starters, we were delighted to find a tasting platter for 2 which we eagerly ordered, followed by the chef’s special T-bone, and a tamarind lamb rump. Our waitress advised us to order first, and then do a wine tasting inside to avoid long waits for food –which is exactly what we did. Ordinarily I suppose you wouldn’t find yourself queuing at a kitchen counter for 10 minutes to place an order, but that was exactly our experience.
The tasting bar and staff were pleasant enough, but again, the concept of having to buy your lunchtime wine from the counter (no table orders) gives this place the feel of a country cafeteria – a feeling which is only amplified when the food arrived. Our tasting plate was a triumph of substance over quality – loaded as it was with spring rolls, deep fried shrimps, smoked salmon, scallops, satay, chorizo, chicken breast, olives and feta, smooth pate, coarse pate, and a mountain of salad. At $45 this seemed like excellent value and certainly attracted a lot of oohs and aahs from fellow diners, but the reality was much less exciting – much of the food tasted like store-bought nibbles, lacked flavour, and some of it, like the spring rolls and smoked salmon, were just plain wrong (you can see a photo of it here).
Anyway, this was the least of our complaints – I sent my T-bone back to the kitchen after the first mouthful, having ordered a medium but receiving a tough, overcooked, thin piece of meat with three super-oily crumbed fried mushrooms on top – the whole pile sitting on top of a mound of potato. My wife’s lamb was also subjected to the ‘make my meal a mountain’ treatment’, which, after scraping off the pile of ribbon vegetable garnish and a thick sweet sludge of tamarind sauce, revealed a tough, overcooked piece of sliced lamb rump – undoubtedly the worst two pieces of meat we’ve been served on either this week-long trip, or the previous week-long trip last year.
I asked for a refund for the steak (in no mood for more food here), but my wife decided not to add insult to injury, and reluctantly ate part of hers. The waitress brought back my folded up $35 and said “here you go”, then walked off. 5 minutes later, almost as an afterthought, she came back to say that the chef sent his “sincere apologies” – that was that.
If you’re looking for a high quality MR dining experience, then there are much better places (Leeuwin Estate, Knee Deep are our two favourites), but if you want a fast-food style lunch served in huge portions surrounded by lots of people who clearly want the same, then this is your place…
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC