After our time in Perth and Fremantle, we headed down the south coast to spend the rest of the week in sleepy Busselton. We'd imagined a beachy holiday, but WA's weather didn't really oblige. Instead, we had a quiet few days lounging around our apartment reading books and eating treats and generally kicking back. We didn't come to Busselton for the food, but we took our chance to explore what was on offer.
We started off by checking out The Fire Station, a bar and restaurant in a gorgeous old building.
It's cosy inside with a fire going and a steady stream of customers. You can swing by to try the impressive array of craft beer and local wines, or settle in for a meal. We had no trouble getting a table on the two nights that we stopped by, but I'd guess things would get pretty hectic when summer rolled around.
The menu is very gastropub, with a selection of pizzas, pastas and some meatier options. There are enough vego options to go around, but vegans will struggle.
Cindy ordered the pan fried gnocchi with Swiss brown mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, burnt butter, sage & goats cheese ($24).
It was a lovely meal: plump fluffy gnocchi with lots of earthy mushrooms and a few bursts of freshness from the tomatoes.
I took on one of the vego pizzas, with parsnips, honey, goats cheese and a rocket and horseradish pesto ($22). This was another success - a crisp, light base with an inventive combination of toppings.
The Fire Station really impressed me - it had classy pub food in a charming setting, with friendly staff and a great selection of booze. We stopped by for a drink on one of our other evenings in town just to enjoy the atmosphere - it's definitely worth a visit.
The other noteworthy place we ate at in Busselton was Mana Kai Cafe, an almost-vegetarian place (there's one salmon dish I think) tucked into a little arcade. They're a daytime eatery, with a range of made-to-order breakfast and lunch options, plus a stack of pre-made goodies in the display cases. There are plenty of vegan options.
We started out by sampling their fancy drinks - a detox juice (celery, mint, parsley, cucumber, kale and pear) for me and a citrus blast (lemon, lime, orange, apple) for Cindy. At $9 a pop these aren't cheap, but they're refreshing and delicious.
Cindy cobbled together a lunch by combining a savoury muffin ($5) with handcut potato skins with a combo of chutney and garlic yoghurt dressing ($6).
I tested the kitchen out a bit more with the Asian bowl - marinated tempeh, rice noodles, kim chi, carrot, sprouts, corn, red cabbage and greens with a miso and ginger dressing ($15.50).
This was a delight - loaded with fresh vegetables and bursting with flavour thanks to the kim chi and the miso dressing. A perfect counterbalance to all the pizzas I ate over our holiday.
Mana Kai was heaving on our visit and they seemed to be equally popular with locals and tourists. It's great to see a vego place doing so well outside of the big cities. I'm sure it's a haven for vegan visitors to Busselton.
We had a nice quiet few days in Busselton, enjoying a day tour around the Margaret River area and sneaking in quite a few visits to the wonderful birdhide on the Vasse River - some photographic highlights are below.