Stewart’s at Brookleigh, Millendon
I’m all about life’s simple pleasures, and having half a day off work was one special blessing that I was going to capitalise on. My dad had also just flown in from his fly-in, fly-out stint and it was mum’s day off work. Having felt rather bad about not taking them out to a proper meal on Mother’s Day (we did have a lovely afternoon tea at The Cheese Barrel that day, however), I decided to “make it up” to them by booking a 1pm lunch at Stewart’s at Brookleigh.
I knew from the get go that the service was going to be something special – the girl that answered the phone and had taken my booking sounded bright and bubbly, and happened to be the first person to greet us as we entered. We were swept over to a table for four, and provided with menus and tap water instantaneously.
The maitre’d was quick to make friendly conversation with us, asking if we had been to Stewart’s before – I had been previously with my sister and raved about the churros. Our waitress said the churros had been a hit with other customers and luckily was still on the menu (yay!). She circled back around a little while later to inform us of the specials and to see if were in need of any alcoholic beverages.
Stewart’s was stationed in an idyllic estate, greeting us with a beautiful avenue of trees. The grass was green and lush, the vineyards were young, the hills beyond shielded in a romantic misty haze. Centered in the midst of all this natural splendour was Stewart’s, which could have easily been mistaken for a modern country-side cottage. Beyond the antique wooden doors was a warmly lit, carpeted, wide room. My parent’s were delighted with this hidden treasure, so close to home. Mum was already plotting to take her friends over to showcase the best of Swan Valley.
We kick started the meal with an entrée of pressed pork belly ($21) which we shared between the three of us. It looked very attractive on the plate, a long section of meat, with a well-executed golden crackling. It sat atop an artistic swirl of butternut squash puree, which had an enjoyable nutty sweetness. Apart from the juicy, tender pork belly, the scallops and the black pudding were also remarkable components of the dish. The black pudding was crisp on the edges, meaty and wonderfully flavoured. The scallops were cooked to perfection, charred on the sides and just translucent, withholding a delicate flavour. The dish showcased great cooking technique and attention to detail. Fabulous. Our used plates and cutlery were taken away promptly and our mains arrived in record time.
I had the pork loin saltimbocca with cauliflower cream, honey roasted pears and cider jus ($39). The pork loin came out hammered into cutlets with the fat rendered nicely. The first pork loin I had was tender and pink – the two following it were a little bit over, a tad on the chewy side. Inventively, basil leaf had been embedded into each pork loin to enhance its flavour. The rocket on top had been coated in a parmesan cheese-like dressing, encompassing a sharp tartness which contrasted with the sweet honey pears.
The cauliflower cream was a revelation by itself, smooth, creamy and béchamel-like in taste. It worked wonders with the four carefully roasted honey pears, which were not grainy in the slightest and cooked till just soft. I only had a splash of the cider jus, but it added to the moorish quality of the dish.
My dad’s Fisherman’s stew ($39) was ginormous. It was a huge plate that contained local seafood, which had been generously coated in a tomato and saffron sauce. The local seafood incorporated huge chunks of salmon, several pieces of squid and octopus and scattered on top were clams and mussels. The mussels and clams lacked “meat” as my mum liked to put it, but the squid and octopus had been cooked rather well. A blob of garlicky mayonnaise had been smacked in the center, almost like a refined version of the tartare sauce often served with fish and chips. “Mopping-up” bread consisted of two large pieces of ciabatta toast. Dad was very content with this dish – there was so much in it!
My mum ordered the market fish, which happened to be King Whiting ($36) served with potatoes and a citrus salad. The King Whiting was a lovely, flaky piece of fish and the potatoes were delicious. The best part of the dish was that it was crispy with a pan fried exterior – done up just like how mum does it at home! The citrus salad included pieces of tomato and orange, which added a zing and a smack to an otherwise traditional dish. Visually, it was also an impressive arrangement, decorated with rocket and thin slices of radish.
We had to rest our sated stomachs before we embarked on dessert. The four choices we were faced with turned out to be a difficult process of elimination, as they all sounded fantastic. I went for the cinnamon sugared churros with molten chocolate dippy eggs ($12.50), as expected. The eggshells housed the decadent dark chocolate ganache, with much more chocolate than we needed. I literally consumed it by the spoon, the richness of the ganache sending me into fits of ecstasy. We were given six long churros, just crunchy on the outside and coated with a crystalline layer of cinnamon sugar. They were warm and spongy inside and hit all the right spots.
My mum and dad loved the sticky date pudding ($12.50) with vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce. The sticky date pudding itself was fluffy and warm, the floor of the pudding drenched in an opulent toffee sauce. The vanilla ice cream came in a mammoth scoop, specks of vanilla bean visible throughout the ice cream. My mum sneakily ate the strawberries placed on both desserts. It was a fantastic winter dessert, a family favourite done well.
Service, as aforementioned, was a standout. The lovely lady that served us whizzed around the restaurant, the only person on the floor that day. Granted it wasn’t busy (there were only two seated tables during our dining session, with another walk in coming in around the 2pm mark) but she never ceased to be sociable and earnest, personalising what could have been ordinary service. The food came out quick and fast and our water was consistently replenished. The lady took my Entertainment Gold card without a fuss, leaving us with a bill of $129 after deducting my mother’s market fish. My parents and I were very happy with the quality of the food and the exemplary service we received that day.
Come to Stewart’s for the picturesque setting, the great service and its elegant food. The drive around the area is also a bonus, especially along the upper end of West Swan Road. The day we went was grey and drab, the surrounding hills and private estates reminiscent of countryside England, with the emerald fields and the vibrant burgundy flurry of the Autumn vineyards, stark against the miserable skies. You also might catch a glimpse of a few grazing horses and lambs! Stewart’s is a great fit into the beautiful scene that is Swan Valley and a must go for those who want to sample a special part of Western Australia.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Address: 1235 Great Northern Hwy, Upper Swan WA 6069
- Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday to Sunday (12pm to 3pm for lunch; 6pm till late for dinner).
- Kids menu available for family friendly dining (for guests up to 12 years of age) including pizza, pasta, fish and chips and vanilla ice cream for a dessert option.
- No split billing available.
- Entertainment Gold Card discount (one complimentary main meal when one of the equal or less value is purchased, up to the value of $50).
- Reservations available via Dimmi or thorough phone (contact: 9296 6966).