Any place a local raves about is somewhere I want to go. After an afternoon tour of a handful of amazing Margaret River wineries, our tour guide Adam from Margaret River Tours could not recommended Arc of Iris highly enough. Located in town, he described it as rustic and homely with great food. Perfect.
Stopping off at the lookout point at Surfer’s Point to watch the sunset over the water was definitely a highlight of the whole trip. We took a bottle of Stella Bella Chardonnay and a few glasses and sat on the point while the “Doctor”, the locals’ name for the choppy wind that picks up in the afternoon, blew around us. Since our last meal was your standard road trip Maccas (Big Mac with no meat patties, please) we were very keen to get to dinner once the sun had disappeared.
Arriving at The Arc of Iris, we are met by a dotty, eclectic little local eat-house with patchwork wall-hangings and clocks as decoration. Rumoured to have been previously run by a fiery gay couple who sometimes cleared out the place after throwing things at one another in the kitchen in the heat of the moment, The Arc of Iris has had many lives. With a quick stint as “Ze” Arc of Iris thanks to a Frenchman who took over the place, and a string of different owners since, the place feels like they have all left traces of themselves behind in one way or another.
We order a Dips Plate to mop up the wine that has been consumed throughout the day, which comes with some great crunchy toasted “Yallingup Woodfired Bread” (also available in a gluten free version), Extra Virgin “Redhill” Olive oil, a très garlicky tzatziki and a fresh and tasty beetroot dip. This is a great start to the meal as we peruse the menu and dissect the day’s events around the dinner table.
Andrea, the current owner and host of the place, comes to take our orders for our mains. I am not a risotto person, and with the only vege item of the menu your standard mushroom risotto I am keen to find out what else is on offer. Andrea recommends the Angel Hair Pasta with Chilli, Tomato and Basil with Creamy Sauce, which I am having sans the usual Shark Bay Crab that comes with. The prices here aren’t cheap, especially for a local joint, and the pasta is $36.00 a pop. This is what you might expect to pay in some of Sydney’s best restaurants, and although I am aware we are probably paying tourist prices, I am surprised the meals are so dear since it has been recommended by people from the area. I definitely have high hopes and expectations for the meal ahead.
When the mains arrive the rest of the table oohs and aahs over their respective dishes which include various cuts of beef fillet and a half duck. My pasta looks fresh and the vegetables are piled high on top of it. As I take a bite it tastes coconuty and a little like a curry and is, well, average. Being so hungry and with a day full of drinking behind me I would usually demolish this dish, but I am just not enjoying it. Everybody else at the table is clearly impressed with their meals as the conversation subsides quietly to the sound of lips smacking and cutlery scraping on empty plates. It seems I am alone on my verdict of the food.
As we pay the bill Andrea comes over to enquire about our meals. She is obviously expecting the usual praise that comes after the question “how was it?”, so when I do as I usually do in these situations, possibly also emboldened with a bit of liquid courage, and tell her the truth, she disagrees! I am impressed by her devotion to the restaurant, and at the same time a little taken aback. Is she right? Did I really enjoy my meal and not know it? I am highly amused as I manage to leave after a few minutes of debate about how my meal was, despite my better judgement, actually very good.
With a quick stop at the Settlers Tavern to watch the first half of the Socceroos, we end up making a much earlier night of it than expected and call our designated driver to come and pick us up. This system seems like a great alternative to a night in jail, especially when we are stopped by a roadside RBT on the way back to our humble abode. As the windows are rolled down the police officer pokes his head inside the vehicle and allows us to drive straight through when our driver describes herself as a “desi”. This seems especially clever when our hotel in Perth is located next to a uniform store selling fluoro vests of every description and we find ourselves imagining what would happen if we tried this at home.
Overall it has been a great night, and thoroughly entertaining at that. I would come back to The Arc of Iris, but next time maybe I’ll give the risotto a go.
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The Arc of Iris
(08) 9757 3112
151 Bussell Highway Margaret River WA 6285