Being such a beautiful day, Jo and I ventured over to the Swan Valley on Sunday to pick up a few stores and to have a bite to eat, our first stop being Pinelli Wines in Bennett St Caversham.
Pinelli's has been a long time favourite for us and we have been eagerly anticipating the opening of their new restaurant, so we were very pleased to find on arriving at the winery, that not had they finally opened the restaurant, but they were in full swing, with around 30 people seated for lunch when we arrived.
A bit of background history…
I met Daniel Pinelli in the late 1990’s when he came to work a summer at my workplace, whilst he was a uni student studying Mechanical Engineering. Dan’s fellow student and mate Brett, had been assigned to work with me that summer as I travelled around various regions of Western Australia collecting road data. Brett was the envy of all his mates that summer, he landed the best assignment and experience, as he not only travelled around the state, but was paid overtime each day as he did so. On the days when we were not out in the field, Dan would come and see Brett in my office and practically begged me to arrange for him to accompany me on a field trip, with a little gentle persuasion of his manager, we managed to pull it off and Dan came away for a week on the road. On our return, Dan rocked up at my house in Riverton with a box of fruit, vegetables and bottles of wine and port from the family business, which was my first experience with Pinelli wines.
Then a few years later, a mutual friend was invited to Dan’s wedding, he was marrying a girl Belinda, that just happened to work with us, when my friend told me of the invitation she had added that she would have to find someone to be her partner for the night, I put my hand up and so was fortunate enough to attend and enjoy watching and celebrating, Dan marrying the girl of his dreams.
Since that time, Dan has given away Mechanical Engineering, went back to uni to study viniculture, fathered two beautiful children and is now working with his brother Robert in the family business making fantastic wines.
Knowing the restaurant was getting close to opening, I popped in to see Belinda in her office a week or so ago, she confirmed they were close to opening, but would not commit to dates or anything like that, she just told me of the plans and the fact that they were looking forward to opening, though I think she was just a little bit nervous too.
The restaurant, being run by a French-born Chef Manu Fillaudeau and his Perth born wife Jasmin, has been constructed from rammed earth, opens out to beautiful wide veranda’s, surrounded by the Pinelli vines and lush green lawns, it is a very relaxing setting, tastefully decorated with lots of natural timber furniture and flooring, it is a nice place to be.
We had had a late breakfast and thought we would be eating a little latter in the day, however after finding a nice outdoor table available and having a quick look at the menu, decided we would stay and ordered a shared seafood platter, consisting of a fish terrine, chilli mussels, garlic prawns, grilled squid and bread.
We ordered a 2007 Family Reserve Chenin Blanc to enjoy with the meal, and enjoy we did, I have come to love the Chenin Blanc’s from the Swan Valley and this is amongst the best of them, if only I did not have to drive home!
The platter was absolutely YUM YUM, the only thing I was wanting was more bread, which I ordered eventually, so as to mop up the chilli sauce and the juices left behind after we had devoured the prawns and squid, the chilli sauce was unbelievably good, the bite of chilli was just enough to satisfy me without being over powering, I really regretted having to share the plate, I could easily have found room to polish it off by myself, very Moorish!
The atmosphere of the place was totally relaxing, the day was glorious sunshine with a gentle breeze blowing through the veranda, which helped intensify the experience, the other customers around us must have felt the same as no one seemed to be in a hurry to rush off, it was really lovely.
I did not want to go, and so asked to see the dessert menu, Jo quickly piped up and said she would not have dessert, then having seen Panacotta on the menu promptly ordered one, I ordered port poached pears and vanilla ice cream. Both desserts were awesome, a perfect way to finish the meal, I think I could become addicted to pears poached in port.
When I spoke with Belinda, she had expressed a concern of how things might run and how long before they would have an efficiently running restaurant, well I can say given they were on their fourth day of having been opened, I was impressed, they are a young team and being so new, there were quite a few people wanting to say hello and discuss how things were going for them. But I estimated that they had close to fifty through for lunch whilst we were there, and it was done without any noticeable anxiety, the staff were very pleasant, the food came out in reasonable time and piping hot, and oh so delicious, we will be back and soon, got my eye on some duck!