The River

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Margaret River Restort
40 Wallcliffe Road, Margaret RiverDSC_1259

Ph: (08) 9757 0000

Dine down at the River

A delightful old building built in the 1990s, the River Hotel (formerly known as the Knights Inn) is reminiscent of an old English pub so it’s no surprise to learn it was, in fact, designed in the style of an English pub. But after years under the Australian sun it was looking a bit tired, and a refurbishment project has given it new life, regaining its glowing English complexion and finery.

Head Chef Hamish McLeay took over the catering in December 2017 when the venue reopened and is pleased with its new look, including the large well-appointed kitchen. Hamish comes with much experience in the hospitality industry, having previously worked as a chef in restaurants in the South West, including Cowaramup and Bunker Bay, as well as chef on private charter boat tours.

TacoVSo I knew we were in good hands when we started with an entrée of Grilled Rice Cakes, topped with tender skirt steak, carrot, coriander, bean shoots and Kimchi peanuts. The flavours worked well together with the peanuts adding interest and texture.

An intriguing dish is the Okonomiyaki (or Japanese pancake), which was flavoursome with prawn, onion and Nori with katsuobushi (small smoked sliced tuna flakes) adding a depth of flavour. I found it fascinating to see the movement of the small tuna flakes on top. What’s also interesting is the combination of flavours that develop as you go.

The Lamb Burger containing lamb, minted slaw, yoghurt dressing and relish, was a treat and a very satisfying dish, served with an ample supply of freshly cooked hot chips.

When asked what his specialty is, Hamish said it would have to be the Asian flavours he uses, which enhance the flavours and give his dishes a twist. The Thai Crispy Salad is an example of the aromatic Asian flavours, with wombok bean shoots, aromatic herbs and tamarind dressing. Hamish also changes the menu regularly to keep it interesting.

We enjoyed a local wine with our meal that Hamish recommended – a 2017 Stormflower Sauvignon Blanc (Margaret River, WA). This is a versatile wine with citrus and fruity notes, and particularly well matched with seafood.

Hamish said he tends to cook food that he likes himself. “I’m all about fresh and sustainable, and all fresh JapOHproduce is sourced locally and seafood from Augusta and that helps to moderate the prices too,” he said.

The wines available at the River Hotel are local and, being surrounded by top notch wineries, there is plenty of choice. Hamish said there is a good community spirit in the region, and businesses in the hospitality and wine industry support one another.

Suitable for any occasion, the River Hotel has plenty of room, with an inviting beer garden at the front, a warm rustic restaurant, and a great under cover entertaining area out the back where you can listen to live music playing every Sunday. With room for 500, the River Hotel is a great place for any special occasion big or small, and is open from 12pm to late, 7 days a week.

The River Hotel is only a short stroll to the centre of town and offers affordable accommodation, which is ideal if you are touring the wineries in the area. There is a range of accommodation choices with English-style hotel rooms, well-appointed motel rooms, spa suites and self-contained villas with swimming pool and tennis court.

By Ingrid Rickersey

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