What does it take to understand a place? Time, curiosity, patience? Once or twice a year it seems I return to Margaret river and explore, trying hard not to retrace too many steps. There's always something different and previously unnoticed, highlighting again how little I know of the place.

I always find the vastness and surprising emptiness replenishing. In the photo Cape Mentelle stretches west into the ocean, and in the middle, Margaret river itself, waiting for rain and winter before it flows back into the sea, once again mouth to mouth instead of cheek to cheek.

I've previously written about the Flowstone Gewurtz.

At the top (or bottom) of the town, next to old and slightly odd Iris is this wonderful place open breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week.

The evening menu is mostly tapas ($6.50 for olives and $28 for a trio of burgers) and a handful of mains ($30-35). It's compelling value and appears to be cheaper than it's closest stylistic rival, Swings.

An open tin shed, bright and airy, with a swarm of flies buzzing around the bar. It overlooks a playground and there are bean bags on the grass and pizzas and chicken wings on the menu. What more could a man want. . . A faster kitchen for start, on a quiet day we had a 50 minutes wait for a bacon pizza and huge bowl of Buffalo inspired wings ($17 I think).

The pictured tasting tray of beer ($15) comes with tasting notes; and I thought my wine notes were awful. . .

A quartet of short notes. The muscat and the scheurebre the most pleasing.

Mantra Reserve Chardonnay 2012. Worked and fleshy but still with the tightness of youth. Flint, melon and peach on the nose. Excellent, but unsurprising.

Brown Hill Paringa Muscat. A Margaret River sticky. Raisin, candied citrus and Christmas cake. Lush, intense and long. Yes.

Wills Domaine Scheurebre 2013. Something new. According to Robinson et al Scheurebre is a child of riesling and another unknown grape.

Other than Settlers tavern across the road, I suspect this has the largest dining space in town. There's a large al fresco area overlooking the highway, a bar at the centre and then a further enclosed dining space out the back. Our waitress on the night was extraordinarily efficient and good humoured, multitasking, unflappable and smiling though out.

Some more locally made chocolate worth seeking out, this time from the Cocoa Patch. The orange piece in the background is mandarin flavoured, and of the quartet it was my favourite, just nudging out the heart shaped Strawberry shortcake.

Swings Taphouse inhabits the same space that was once Wino's. The vines are still there, wrapped around the building, but they have been pruned and shaped. The inside mostly feels the same, though the old trophy bottles are gone, replaced by a flat screen TV. The mezzanine level is once again open for business and a pair of inverted Hills hoists now illuminate the larger room. It's pleasing to see so many people, and on the night we visited (a Monday), it was almost full.

Only half of Wirring road is sealed, so the sensible thing is to approach Millers Farm cafe from the Highway. The prices are slightly different from the Town store, three scoops are $9 at the farm and $7.50 at the store.

The old cottage overlooks a very well equipped playground and at the rear the herd of cows that supplies the milk for the ice cream.
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It's been three years since my last visit, and the plates were once again the prettiest of my sojourn. The cellar door still has the most miserly of pours, thimble size, 15ml samples; which is perhaps why they still have the 09 Chardonnay available. It's less anxious than before, but still youthful and worthy ($28).

Of the pictured plates, the duck with (very) smoked egg plant and the chocolate cremeux and nitro coconut were the most pleasing.

Three years on from the fire and the blackened arms and trunks have become bleached and mottled by the sea air and sun.http://feeds.feedburner.com/WinoSapien Click here for the original context
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