Someone Paul used to work gives Will’s Domain winery and restaurant a good rap. With a day to spare on Thursday we decided to give it a try.
Our favourite winery restaurant, and yardstick by which to measure others by in the region to date is Aravina. We only compare like with like and as Aravina is on the pricey side, and so is Will’s Domain, Aravina will be our yardstick for comparison. Here’s what we thought.
Firstly, the seats – Will’s Domain had very comfortable dining seats, with low curved backs that hug the lumber area. As I remember it Aravina had high backed, straight cane seats, which I find particularly uncomfortable.
Next, the view -both had stunning views, but perhaps Will’s Domain was more expansive definitely giving it the edge.
Being happy with the seats and the view, the meal also had to live up to Aravina’s high standards in order to knock it off the perch as our number 1.
So, how did it compare.
It was a warm, humid day so Paul chose a pre-dinner drink of a locally brewed Eagles Bay ale. I chose the Wills Domain Rose. Both refreshing choices that didn’t disappoint. I continued with a second of the same with my main, but Paul being the skipper made do with water after he’d finished his ale.
We started with a shared charcuterie Board. No complaints from either of us. In fact, I’m not usually a fan of black pudding, but the small pieces of warmed black pudding were enough to change my mind – delightful!
To follow, Paul ordered Duck with peaches. I ordered Wagyu beef with beets. The waitress suggested that a side order would also be needed. I think there were only three to choose from, none of which appealed particularly to me. Paul however opted for the potato chunks crisped in pork fat.
The mains arrived with the side of potatoes. And yes, we did need a side dish. Not for the quantity, the meals were of adequate size for us. The meal wasn’t complete in it’s own right, which was a bit of a shame. I prefer the starring dish, usually a protein of choice to be supported by some carbs, a coloured vegetable, and some greens. It doesn’t have to be more than a few spears of asparagus, or a broccoli floweret, but I prefer there to be something that to justifies the dish being called a ‘main’. The lack of a green on my plate was a bit of a let down. With the other two side dishes on offer on the menu being ones that didn’t appeal, my main, no matter how nice it was, didn’t provide an equal to the meals I’ve had at Aravina.
Saying that though, Paul, not usually a fan of duck, did enjoy his main. My Wagyu beef was delicious, and the pickled beet strips accompanying the beef provided a tasty, fresh crunch. The small roasted beets on the side, however, were a touch gritty. The crispy pork roasted potatoes, although not the green vegetable I would have liked, were to die for!
The mains out of the way, delicious, but lacking just that little bit of extra on the plate, it was time to move onto dessert. There were four to choose from. We narrowed down our selection to three, and then asked the waitress’ advice on which one would be the best as a shared desert. We went with her recommendation of the goats yogurt with raspberry granita, and liquorice wafers.
Between our mains and the arrival of our dessert we received a complimentary palate cleanser – goats yogurt with raspberry granita. We hadn’t realised how similar it was until shortly after our dessert arrived – a bigger portion of the same. Goats yogurt and raspberry granita, only with the addition of three fresh raspberries and some liquorice wafer. a palate cleanser completely different from the ordered dessert would have been better. Never mind, the dessert was delicious.
Next a visit to the ladies before we finished. Sadly the cleaner had really let the establishment down. The hand basin in the ladies was one long marble basin with a slit at the base of a downward slope for the water to run through. A taller person most likely wouldn’t have seen the marble rear wall behind the slit, but I’m short, and I looked full on to the rear marble. What would have been visible to most people looked sparkling clean, but what I saw looked rather neglected and in need of a good scrub.
The ambience, the seating and the view were tops. The service also was what one would expect from one of the top end wineries. The wines (sampled prior to dinner) were good. The menu was a good size, not to large so as to be overwhelming, but enough options to please. The starter was superb. The mains however, lacked just that little bit extra on the plate – something I’m just a bit pedantic about. The dessert, although delicious was slightly let down by already being sampled by way of the palate cleanser. The hand basin in the women’s WC was questionable.
My first impression of Wills Domain was that it was going to give Aravina a run for it’s money – but by the end of our visit, Aravina still holds it’s top position. Well in my opinion anyway. Saying that though, we did enjoy a top notch meal, and a great day out. What a joy it is to have such an abundance of world class restaurants and wineries virtually on our doorstep. What a pleasure.