Recently, A and I spent quite a bit of time apart, as both of us travelled interstate at different times for work. After about five weeks apart, we decided that we’d book a weekend away down south to celebrate our reunion and spend some quality time together. This trip was organised by A and she did an excellent job in organising what we’d do. On our first night in Dunsborough, she had booked a table for The Studio Bistro, which had been reviewed highly by The West Australian, The Australian and featured in the Qantas Magazine.
The Studio Bistro is located within Yallingup and features a gallery and a bistro. The gallery features leading Australian artists and studio crafts. The bistro features continental cuisine and is set in a beautiful garden opposite the National Park. The executive chef is Blair Allen, who was previously a chef at Voyager Estate for many years. A did the research on the venue before we arrived, so it was nice not knowing too much about the restaurant before trying it out.
The architecture and design looks great on arrival. The place is modern with clean-lines and the juxtaposition against the natural landscape gives it a unique/contemporary feel. I loved that there were art pieces on the majority of the walls inside the bistro and an added bonus was that they were all for sale. There was one particular occasion that I saw a painting on the wall, got out of my seat and went to go have a look during dinner so I found it a particular engaging atmosphere. (A little known fact about the girl behind CFJ is that my other love apart from food is visual arts).
There are numerous menus that are on offer at The Studio Bistro. There is the dinner menu, the children’s menu, the gluten-free menu, the dairy free menu and the vegetarian menu. This flexibility highlights their desire to make your dining experience amazing, regardless of your diet restrictions. I was captivated by the set menu that was placed next to the dinner menu on our table. It was five-course degustation menu for $90 per person or $125 per person with wine included (and each wine was matched to the plates). All five dishes are options on the main dinner menu and there was three in particular that I couldn’t decide upon. A knew I was having an internal dilemma of which dish to choose for a main, so she decided we’d try the set menu.
The drinklist is also thoroughly thought out, and there are options for local, domestic and international wines. We decided to order a glass of sparkling wine to celebrate our time away in the Yallingup/Margaret River/Dunsborough area. A ordered a glass of the Te Hana Pinot Noir Chardonnay ($10) whereas I ordered a glass of the Louis Bouillt ‘Perle d’llvoire’ Blanc de Blancs ($12). Interestingly enough, both A and I wanted to swap wines due to our preference in tastes. The Te Hana Pinot Noir was a lot lighter than my Blanc de Blanc choice, but both were a great choice.
The first plate that arrived at the table wasn’t featured on the set menu. It was a little appetiser of beautiful ham with poached pear and fresh herbs drizzled over it.
The first dish from the set menu was the Blue swimmer crab meat and tomato gazpacho, garlic and paprika crumbs. I was a little hesitant on this dish before it came to the table however I was also a bit intrigued about the gazpacho, as cold tomato soup didn’t really appeal to me. However, on tasting this dish, I found it absolutely amazing. The subtleness of the tomato in this silky soup is delightful. This was probably my favourite dish of the night and I now have a newfound love of gazpacho!
The second dish of the night was the goat’s cheese bavarois, pickled Narrogin mushrooms, baby garlic bread, beetroot and alfalfa. The plate came with the goat’s cheese bavarois in a little jar with the pickled mushrooms on the top. Bavarois is a combination of goat’s cheese, milk and cream that has been cooked so it resembles a sauce and then is set with gelatine. The beetroot puree had amazing texture and the flavour was really nice. It wasn’t as sweet as expected but the combination of the sweet beetroot with a bit of sour in it was divine. The combination of the garlic bread with the cheese bavarois was amazing and unexpected. I am not sure why but it was heaven in a mouthful. This dish was another favourite of the night.
Before we chose to have the set menu, I was tempted to order the next dish as a main, as it sounded delicious. This dish was the hot smoked Tasmanian salmon, horseradish crème fraiche, roast pumpkin, asparagus and radish salad. I love salmon however I’ve never mastered cooking it so often find myself ordering it at restaurants. I love the oiliness of the fish and the buttery texture it produces. The chef cooked this salmon perfectly, and as you can see from the photo it is a massive serving for a degustation plate (no complaints here!). The horseradish crème fraiche was really good as well and it has made me want to perfect a recipe in order to serve with the fish I cook at home. The asparagus and radish salad was a perfect accompaniment and it made me very happy as I love radishes and believe they are underused.
The dessert was an option of two dishes – a Honeycomb semi-freddo with macerated oranges or a two-cheese plate served with lavosh, crisp breads, quince paste and fresh fruit. I chose the honeycomb semi-freddo and was very pleased with my choice. The semi-freddo was amazing in taste and the macerated oranges were a lovely accompaniment. The wine matched with this dish is a personal favourite – Carpe Diem Passito Dolce Sauvignon Blanc (2010) from Margaret River. It was very tempting to get a glass which I believe would’ve matched this dish perfectly however I rarely go over two standard drinks in one sitting, so opted for water. Regardless, the dish was great however the honeycomb on the top of my semi-freddo was a bit tough. A’s was soft so I think it must’ve been a small oversight in regards to using the dry ends of the honeycomb for my dish.
The service of the night was quite good. There were a few times when it seemed a bit disjointed but only when our usual waiter wasn’t involved and someone else jumped in. Other than that there were no issues and the atmosphere of the venue was above par.
Like I said earlier, each of these dishes is on the dinner menu so you don’t necessarily have to have all of these dishes. However, I would suggest for you to try a set menu as it may make you try something you wouldn’t normally, and The Studio Bistro is the perfect place to do so as I think it would be hard to be disappointed. Blair Allen has done an immaculate job of finding fresh, local produce and creating inspired dishes with continental influences.
If you are down in the Yallinyup area, this place is a must. I was blown away at this find and the gallery is a must-see for people interested in art or jewellery. A and I were lucky enough to find some treasures in the art gallery that I know we will have for a very very long time and we cannot wait to return in the near future!