The MBH has the holiday vibe – why go further?
Beach holidays are good for the soul. Something about stepping out of the daily grind and sucking in some deep breaths of salt air gives pause for reflection and recuperation.
I’ve been to the Azores, the Mediterranean and the South Pacific but have to confess I’m a beach snob, having heard myself grumbling: “The sand isn’t soft and white like at home”; “The water is cloudy and tepid”; and “The waves just don’t break right”.
Western Australian beaches are among the best in the world so if you’re hankering for a beach getaway, you can go no further than Mullaloo.
New co-owner of the Mullaloo Beach Hotel (MBH) Wes D’Arcy says he’s bringing in a laid back beachy feel, so whether you are there for a long stay, overnight, or just a gourmet ice cream, you still feel like you’re on holiday.
The make-over is largely complete with details still being tinkered with, but the hotel is definitely open for business. The MBH extends its definition of hotel business beautifully in all directions, with accommodation and a café restaurant as you’d expect, but also the fish and chip shop downstairs, the coffee kiosk by the footpath, a meeting room/business centre, a drive-through bottle shop/gourmet deli and a pub.
Wes explains: “We want to provide what people want throughout the flow of the day. There are people who want a fresh juice before their morning beach run and a coffee after, so the kiosk is perfect for that. We also have seats out there and a dog water bowl, and lots of people use it as a quick stop on morning walks.”
As the day progresses, the café/restaurant becomes the hub of action. Upstairs (or take the lift), the café has fantastic views of sand, surf and a lush green park with huge pine trees.
The eclectic mix of folksy, fancy, oriental and exotic artefacts and furnishings gives an air of ‘anything goes’, and the space works for casual brunches for people with sandy feet (as long as some footwear is involved), more formal lunches and dinner dates. The café menu includes snack options, share plates, light meals and formal meals.
On Saturday mornings couples and larger groups gather for brunches in the big room opening onto its glass rimmed balcony and beyond to the glorious beach.
After brunch the lunch crowd arrives, many lingering into the afternoon, with new arrivals drifting in for coffee, cake and ice cream. About now, the pub on the southern end of the complex starts to fill.
The bar does a roaring trade in bubbly and antipasto plates at sunset. Burgers, pizzas and other favourites from the menu can be ordered over the bar, enjoyed inside near the big screens, or on the balcony. The popular brioche bun burgers have patties made on site from fillet steak, and the balance of meat/salad/relish is spot on. The $26 antipasto plate includes prosciutto, salami, double cream brie, mature cheddar, local blue vein cheese, Swan Valley honey, pickles, Sicilian olives, seasonal fruit, warm Italian bread and crackers – almost a meal for two, and topnotch quality.
On Friday and Saturday nights the bar gets its boogie on in true holiday resort spirit, its dance floor alive with people shaking off the week’s stress. It also has a lively Sunday session where young and old unite in appreciation of beer and beach.
Dinner options include the restaurant – or grab something from the fish and chip shop and walk across the road onto the sand for a truly Western Australian experience.
We opted for the restaurant and were impressed with the wild mushroom linguini in cream and white wine sauce, and the freshness and use of herbs in the spaghetti with prawns – delicious and well-executed dishes with precise, delicate flavours.
Mains range from $24 to $42, including vegetarian and gluten free options. The dessert brownies and puddings were indulgent, with servings generous enough to share, but hey, it’s all about feeling like you’re on holiday – have one each.
If you decide to save the airfares and have a local holiday, the rooms are spacious and comfortable. The one we stayed in had two big bedrooms, a big bathroom and an ensuite with a spa, as well as a large kitchen/lounge/dining area and spacious balcony. There are 12 (two or three bedroom) suites available, all with beach-facing balconies.
After our meal and a drink in the bar, we sat on our balcony enjoying the fresh night air before sleeping soundly on crisp linen. In the morning, we woke to gentle beach sounds and enjoyed a cup of tea on a comfy sofa so close to the surf we could hear each wave meeting the sand.
Temptation overload saw us reach for bathers and towels, grab a fresh juice from the kiosk, and head to the sand and the mighty Indian Ocean.
The beach is popular but not packed, with about a dozen brollies on the soft white sand, lifeguards on duty, and children building sand castles. The water was azure, cold enough to be refreshingly brisk at first, but not too cold to stay and play in. We could have stayed all day, but wanted to try Wes’ recommended Nasi Goreng for breakfast in the café. It was excellent, as was the coffee, and we spent the rest of our morning on the veranda.
Raised in Dublin, Wes trained as a chef in an Irish hotel before becoming a radio and TV presenter/producer. Love of a Perth woman (now wife) tempted him here and they live in Hilarys with their children. Having owned and run two restaurants in Ireland, he missed hospitality and while running 2gether Studios and Lipstick Digital Marketing, he’s loving being involved in the reinvention of the MBH.
“This brings together everything I love,” he enthuses. “Hospitality is a combination of service, design, marketing and food. I’m a foodie at heart and so I love obsessing about the dishes and making them as good as possible.”
His major point of pride is that the dishes are identical, whoever is on duty in the kitchen, because his processes are tight. He says: “If you come here for fish tacos one day, and love them and bring a friend back the next day, you should get the same dish. It should never depend on whether the head chef is in the building or not.”
Speaking of fish tacos, we can happily report that they too were excellent – fresh fish with crispy batter and fresh lettuce, folded into a lovely soft tortilla.
Wes’s food philosophy is keeping dishes authentic, rather than making Australian versions of them, and doing as much of the cooking on site as possible.
It seems to be working as the locals love it as much as visitors from further afield.
By Kayt Davies
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