On a quiet Saturday afternoon in the off-season, this place is pumping. Lamont’s is in the hot Swan Valley – just out of Perth – and the crowd is young-ish and enthusiastic. People are tasting wine at the rustic front bench and asking questions galore, or sitting at wooden tables and sampling Margaret River Semillon-sauvignon blanc with salty fried squid served with rip-roaring lime aioli, chardonnay with baguettes smeared with herbed French butter or rose with mozzarella and anchovy sandwiches. The place is noisy with animated chat and laughter.
Two years ago, owners Fiona and Kate Lamont changed the way they did things at their Swan Valley cellar door. In place of standard meals, a menu of “small tastes” was devised. It became easy to order a number of different plates and enjoy them alongside a number of different wines by the glass. The menu was built – and the decor given a more relaxing feel – and the people came. To see people soaking up what the “food and wine life” has to offer here (as they learn a bunch of stuff along the way) is to witness a formula that many will both envy, and want to emulate.
The scale is intimate rather than grand, and it’s all about making it easy for people to enjoy modern, flavour-packed, ingredient-focused food – and drink wines that complement this food with ease. Lamont’s is a relaxing, no-bull kind of place. Intimidation here is a foreign concept. And quality and flavour is emphasised, never compromised. It sounds like a simple formula but it takes enormous skill to execute it well, and with its integrity intact.
It’s no surprise then that it took the Lamont’s to pull it off. Corin Lamont – the mother of Fiona and Kate – started the Lamont’s winery in 1978 (no mean feat for a woman at the time). She’s the daughter of the late Jack Mann, who – as the long-time winemaker at the Houghton winery – ‘invented’ the wine Houghton White Burgundy. Kate Lamont also has a restaurant in the Perth beach suburb of Cottesloe and another at the northern end of the Margaret River region. She’s also a best-selling cookbook writer – and all-round workaholic.
When you eat at Lamont’s, you’re in assured hands: duck with cognac parfait; a pie of cinnamon-spiced beef and macaroni; triple-cream brie drizzled with honey. Cellar door restaurants have an overwhelming tendency to be one-visit affairs. Lamont’s in the Swan Valley is the opposite. You visit and wish you could return the next day – indeed, you wish it was your local. You could have a ball here over and over again.
You can find out more about Lamont’s: