Located 6km from Pemberton in Western Australia’s Southern Forest region, the entry into Foragers feels like you are entering somewhere special. Beautiful trees surround the restaurant and flanking the walkway are large raised timber garden beds growing fresh herbs: thyme, basil, parsley, mint, rosemary, and sage, just to name a few.
Foragers’ Head Chef and owner Sophie Zalokar trained in the Barossa Valley under foodie icon Maggie Beer. She shares the same lovely food philosophy as Maggie, from paddock to plate. Her food is fresh, wholesome and delicious. You can learn from Sophie during one of her cooking schools, or simply book in to dine at the restaurant that has regular seasonal dinners ($75pp) and wood-fired dinners ($55pp). Bring your own wine, sit at a long table, and enjoy a relaxing evening.
We booked into a Friday night wood fired dinner. The lovely thing is that you can see the big Italian imported wood oven at work from the restaurant. You can also see the kitchen and the busy staff working hard. The restaurant features long communal tables that feel inviting.
Our dinner started with freshly baked sour dough bread, still warm from the oven. A generous antipasto plate followed that had thin and crispy beetroot slices with feta, baked ricotta, roasted eggplant, marinated olives, roasted cauliflower and cacciatore salami. It was rustic, fresh, and excited our taste buds.
Main course was braised beef cheeks. The beef was amazingly tender – just touching it with a fork, it fell apart. It was so succulent. Zorba absolutely loved it.
Dessert was a real treat, apple sponge cake cooked in the wood-fired oven. It was light and airy with small chunks of apple at the bottom. It was slightly sweet, yet beautifully balanced when eaten with the cream. I loved it. To follow, Zorba enjoyed a Fiori coffee (skipper), while I sat there wishing we hadn’t finished our bottle of Fraser Gallop Cab Merlot (Margaret River)…
The service was friendly and efficient and the general ambience was relaxed and it felt like you were part of something bigger – a community. A strange ambience for a restaurant I’ll agree, but the communal tables and people chatting to one another is what brought it about.
We sat next to a very friendly couple from Perth, Greg and Cheryl, whom we chatted with all night. It’s a small world – as we learned, there’s only one degree of separation between us. Greg is a motorsport organiser and we know quite a few people in common.
Sophie also heads up the Slow Food Movement in the region and once or twice per year travels to Italy or France for slow food conferences.
You can stay in a chalet at Foragers also. They look lovely. We stayed at the luxurious Silkwood Wines Chalets, about a ten minute drive from Foragers on Chanybearup Road. You can read about it in my previous blog post here.
Sophie & Chris Zalokar
1 Roberts Road
(cnr Roberts Rd & Pemberton Northcliffe Road)
Pemberton WA 6260
Tel: +61 (0)8 9776 1580