Monday, August 12, 2013

Carriley Estate Winery and Whistler's Chocolate Factory

Earlier this month, we celebrated my niece's 10th birthday with lunch at Carriley Estate Winery in the Swan Valley east of Perth. Lest you think a winery lunch is a bit sophisticated for a 10-year-old's birthday, this girl had her 6th birthday lunch at a winery too - on her own request. That lunch (4 years ago) was the first time I met Mr Bite's family and I was a little daunted by what sort of family they would prove to be. I'm pretty sure I wasn't qualified for winery visits when I was aged 6.

Carriley Estate Winery

As it turns out, I had no cause for concern. My niece (and her siblings) are like most other children and enjoy running around outside more than sitting primly at a restaurant table. Somewhere along the line 'winery' became equated with 'exciting food and outdoor playgrounds'. What child wouldn't want that for their birthday?

Carriley Estate Winery

I hadn't been to Carriley prior to this visit, but it is set in attractive surroundings, with the restaurant overlooking the gardens above and the requisite playground set off to one side. There is also a creek at the bottom of the property.

I find food at wineries to be a bit hit-and-miss when it comes to vegetarian options. Usually, wineries seem to specialise in meat and seafood dishes and the vegetarian choices can be limited and fairly average. Carriley did offer two vegetarian choices on the a la carte menu (which is only available on weekends, with a set option during the week), in the form of pumpkin risotto and vegetarian pizza. They also had bruschetta with field mushrooms as an entree, Turkish bread with vegetarian dips, and vegetable side dishes.

Mr Bite and I ordered the vegetarian pizza with a garden salad to share, a choice mirrored by his sister and her husband. As Mr Bite's brother also ordered a pizza for himself, and two of the three children present ordered the children's Hawaiin pizza, there were a lot of pizzas on the table!

Vegetarian pizza: "Baby sun blushed tomatoes, grilled zucchini, roasted peppers, fresh rosemary, olives, pine nuts, basil pesto, mozarella".


We didn't request the pizza to be made without cheese and I mostly ate the outer (crust) sections that were less cheesey. The restaurant does indicate that the pizza can be made gluten free, so I am sure they would have been accommodating if I had asked for cheese adjustments. The pizza base was crispy and the vegetable toppings were varied and well cooked.

I also enjoyed the salad, which was fresh and only very lightly dressed.



The other food ordered included the pumpkin risotto, barramundi and lemon grass croquettes, a children's fish and chips, and some steamed vegetable sides. All dishes were well presented and were seemingly well received.


There were plans to stay for dessert, but the restaurant filled up while we were there and the service slowed down accordingly. Instead of waiting to place and then receive a dessert order, we drove down the road to Whistler's Chocolate Factory, the base of the Western Australian company Whistler's. In addition to chocolate, the factory has a casual ice cream stand and a chocolate-focused cafe.


I hadn't tried Whistler's products before, as I'd only seen confectionery-like products sold in supermarkets (think chocolate-coated liquorice and chocolate freckles). The selection in their store was much more appealing, and included a number of dairy-free dark chocolate blocks and pieces I would like to try one day. On this occasion, I exercised restraint and reminded myself that $10 chocolate blocks are a luxury and not for everyday purchase*.


I did enjoy seeing an aquarium made completely from chocolate and liquorice, as pictured above and below. I wonder if the display is updated periodically with fresh supplies, and whether some lucky staff get to eat the old one when that happens?


In all, it was an enjoyable Sunday out and I intend to investigate Whistler's further in the future!

* Yesterday, I spent $30 on vegan carob blocks. My restraint only goes so far.

Are you fond of winery lunches? And what is the most impressive food-based display you've seen?

23 comments:

  1. Ha! My family has been having celebrations at wineries all my life; you would've suspected us all of being alcoholics too ;) But it's as you say; wineries these days often house incredible restaurants in gorgeous surrounds (and, in our case, are a nice drive outside the city for the grandparents). x

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    1. I was less worried about alcoholism as a level of fanciness and sophistication I couldn't match up to! Fortunately both concerns would have been wrong ;) I did actually think of your family's outings as I was putting this post together - I remember you referring fondly to winery visits.

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  2. What a neat place for a birthday party. I am pretty sure I wasn't qualified for a birthday at a winery when I was 6 either. I might even be pushing it now. ;-)

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  3. we don't often go to wineries but when I have they are always very pleasant. Though I think I prefer the chocolate cafe - that sounds like fun.

    As for vegetarian pizza - surely it is always quite easy to make one without cheese on top - it probably one of the easier changes people ask for in their meals. The one in the photo looks great

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    1. I think it must be extremely simple for the chef, but sometimes they seem to struggle with the request! I've had a few occasions when people came back out to ask me "are you sure you don't want any cheese?!". Usually when I don't ask I'm just being socially innocuous :-)

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  4. Yum to that chocolate place it looked delicious!! I went on a winery tour on the weekend it was ok but nothing special. The food at your winery lunch looked A LOT better :)

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    1. Aw, sorry your own tour wasn't great. Fortunately chocolate is a pretty safe option!

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  5. Pizza is always a good restaurant standby! And at least they had a few other options, too. Also, had to laugh at your carob splurge!

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    1. Teehee...it was quite a bit buy up!

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  6. I'm pretty sure I didn't even know what a winery was when I was six! Very impressive. ALso - that pizza looks fabulous!

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    1. I am pretty sure I wouldn't have been taken anywhere near one even if I had known what they were! Kids these days :P

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  7. I think that looks like a lovely place to have a child's party especially because of all the outdoor space. I know when my Archie and Arabella were around that age I dreaded the typical restaurant experience because they would be so restless and noisy and there would be glares from other diners. So much better to be outdoors. Looks like a great day out with Mr Bite's family. Oh - but did anyone try the wine? xx

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    1. I was a bit neglectful with mentioning the wine! People did, and I believe it was good, but not being much of a drinker myself I didn't get any sensible details to report!

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  8. Looks like a beautiful lunch on a lovely day.

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  9. That does look like a great spot for a kids birthday! Though I admit I would have been a bit skeptical about a six year old at a winery too!

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    1. Not to mention, she was the oldest so her 2 and 4 year old siblings were there too!

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  10. What a picturesque looking winery. Love it - we're very winery poor in the sub tropics :) But great for palm trees lol

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    1. We're short on palm trees so I guess we balance things out ;)

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  11. What a great looking vineyard and a lovely meal! I would be terrible in the Whistlers chocolate store... YUM!

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  12. I have loved visiting wineries since I arrived in Australia. :-) You have so many beautiful ones with delicious food and gorgeous scenery. This one is lovely. :-)

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