Invited via foodie cravings to attend Riverbank Estate for dinner, I was won over by the atmosphere, ambience, food and service of the restaurant. Located in the Swan Valley only 25 minutes from the city, it’s easy to forget you’re so close to the hustle and bustle of Perth because once you hit the Guildford area, you really could be anywhere.
Riverbank Estate is a boutique winery with 25 acres overlooking their beautiful vineyard with a lush alfresco area, the stunning surrounds are incredible. It’s definitely the venue to head to whether it is for an intimate lunch for two or a group or large function.
The menu has recently shifted from à la carte to shared plates style dining. If what was on offer is anything to go by, I will be back in no time to sample more of what the very talented executive chef, Darren King has created for Riverbank Estate. With an impressive background of training and being mentored at the Loose Box Mundaring, Darren’s talent is undeniable and he has created a true gastronomic experience with all they have on offer.
Riverbank Estate’s staff are welcoming and very knowledgeable with the food and wine they serve and you can tell they love their job. They are on top of service without being overbearing and are more than accommodating to any requests diners may have. Water was topped up regularly and drinks were refilled or replaced discreetly.
The chef’s selection for the evening was specifically created to give us a taste of their new menu. There were influences of Asia in most of the dishes and I found it hard to pick a favourite. Everything was first rate and so satisfying!
We started the dinner with a tasting plate of house made spicy Kalamata olives and pâté with crackers. I love olives and this was an interesting twist on a favourite of mine. A mix of green and purple, the tangy, spicy flavour with a subtle sweetness flooded the taste buds. I was pleased to have a sample to take home with me (they are available for purchase) as they are incredibly more-ish and I was more than happy to eat them again the following day with lunch.
Although I don’t normally eat pâté this little dish of delightfulness converted me. It was rich and velvety against the crispness of the cracker and had a smooth, creamy texture – it was a perfect match. My friend and I soon polished off both offerings and would’ve kept going with the pâté but we’d eaten all the crackers!
Next course was the soft shell crab and watermelon salad with mustard aioli. The crab was deep-fried but was light and crispy and paired with the salad, the flavours were just right. The greens were covered in a light Asian dressing and the tanginess combined with the sweet, juicy watermelon was the ideal mix.
The staff informed us that the RiverBank Estate pride themselves on growing a lot of their own produce for consumption and you can tell this from the flavour in their dishes. Everything tastes as good as it looks and has a richness not found from store bought fruit and vegetables. They grow their own micro herbs, pumpkin, tomatoes and figs and they even have beehives on the premises where the honey produced can be purchased.
The seared scallops and crispy prosciutto with pea and mint puree was so enjoyable. The scallops were cooked so that a perfect crust had formed on top and the centre was tender and springy. Combined with the pea and mint puree, it was a classic combination that couldn’t go wrong. The prosciutto was crisp and crunchy with that delicious saltiness that leaves you wanting more.
Main course was next and we were served grilled Wagyu beef with kimchi and honey and soy glazed pork belly with ginger and carrot puree.
I love Korean food and kimchi. A popular meal choice for me at a Korean restaurant is a kimchi pancake or kimchi noodles. The fermented Chinese cabbage is salty and packed full of chili. Combined with the melt in your mouth Wagyu beef, with a smear of wasabi, dipped in soy and sakè dipping sauce, I don’t think you could get a simpler dish that is as mouthwatering as this.
The pork belly for me was very impressive. I find that a lot of places serve pork belly but don’t often get it right. Here, the portions were cooked perfectly with the right amount of rendered fat left on which allowed for every mouthful to be rich and flavoursome with a delicious texture. The puree was luscious and the salad just right. The combination of all three meant that it was a full meal in itself. In fact, Helen – my dining companion, remarked that it was lovely that the salad was also prepared with as much thought and care as the rest of the dish rather than being just a side garnish.
After such an amazing dinner, I was unsure about how much room I had for dessert but after the first taste, I was addicted to the fig and frangipane tart. Figs are so versatile and the fresh figs topping the tart were sweet and full-bodied. The frangipane was surprisingly light and was a match made in heaven with the marscapone. Usually preferring to bypass dessert, I can confirm that this last course satisfied my sweet tooth without over doing it.
After scraping our plates clean it is safe to say that Riverbank Estate is a huge hit for me. Without a doubt, it’s somewhere that I’ll be recommending to others and heading back to soon.
As well as offering lunch daily from 11:30am – 2:30pm, Riverbank Estate has several special events and there’s jazz on the first Saturday of every month in the courtyard.
For the month of March, Riverbank Estate will take $150 off your order when you order a carton a wine and use the codeword “blogger”.