Headed by Aaron Carr, Yarri Restaurant + Bar in Western Australia’s town of Dunsborough is a delightful gastronomic showcase of WA’s regional cuisine and produce.
Award-winning Western Australian chef Aaron Carr caused a stir in Australia’s culinary circles when he announced back in 2017 that he was leaving Vasse Felix. He was, after all, head chef at the iconic Margaret River winery’s restaurant for 21 years, but the call to finally start and run his own restaurant finally proved irresistible.
But what surprised punters more? The new restaurant’s location. Carr and his business partners eschewed the urban cityscape of Perth and the charm of Margaret River for Dunsborough, a small idyllic town located near the Cape Naturaliste peninsula that juts into the Indian Ocean. It’s about four hours drive from Perth, or about an hour from Margaret River town proper.
It’s off the beaten track, to put it mildly.
But the main reason for Yarri Restaurant + Bar being in Dunsborough? As we soon found out, ironically this isolation actually grants access to some of the best produce Western Australia has to offer. Think specialist boutique growers for the freshest in-season vegetables, artisanal cheeses from local cheesemakers, or sustainably-raised beef from Blackwood Valley, for example. From here Carr is able to source all manner of such fresh, ethically-produced ingredients to turn into dishes.
And cast his culinary magic he does.
We found Yarri Restaurant + Bar packed on a Thursday evening. Its kitchen was in full swing. Chef Aaron was hunched over his wood-fired oven in full concentration searing steaks, periodically checking order tickets as they come in while his team hustles around him.
Yarri’s food belies its casual yet edgy bistro vibe. My asparagus entree – sweet, in-season asparagus – came on a bed of delectable macadamia crumble and lashed with tangy sheep’s curd, looking like a garden ready for royal Michelin inspection. Even the polenta fries came artfully arranged like chevrons, as though on parade.
The fish course that day was Spanish mackerel – line-caught just off the coast by local fishermen – pan-seared to perfection. The roasted bone butter, harissa-inflected rouille and fish bone jus provided not just additional layers of flavour, but also served to moisten the fillet further for an even juicier bite. The wagyu skirt and sirloin – which Chef Aaron was personally slaving over – came grilled on point to medium-rare, allowing the beef to shine and showcase its Blackwood Valley provenance.
The menu at Yarri wholly depends on what Chef Aaron can source, so it changes by the season (and sometimes more regularly).
Then there’s wine.
Yarri Restaurant + Bar is a collaboration between Carr and the co-founders of Snake + Herring Wines, so expect to see the winery’s vino in all its glory as recommended pairings. But you’ll also find bottles from top Margaret River producers such as Cullen and Leeuwin Estate, and even (sacrilegiously) some from other Australian winemaking regions such as Tasmania and Victoria. Aside from wines there are local craft beers – from nearby Eagle Bay Brewing, or Rocky Ridge and Colonial Brewing slightly further afield – and even some cocktails.
Yarri Restaurant + Bar in Dunsborough may be a little bit of a detour if you’re heading to Margaret River. But here you’re looking at one of the leading chefs – in not just WA but the whole of Australia – presenting some of the best ingredients produced in the region in simple yet tasteful ways.
I assure you, the trip to Yarri will be worth the while.
Yarri Restaurant + Bar
Address 6/16 Cyrillean Way, Dunsborough WA 6281, Australia (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 4pm to 10.30pm Tuesdays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays and Mondays
Tel (61) 8 9786 5030