The Cheese Barrel was a chance discovery for us, which is surprising because we live in Perth and we LOVE cheese.
We were on our way to Upper Reach Winery, where we had booked the cottage for the weekend, and spotted the sign on Great Northern Highway. No further discussion was required about where we would be having lunch the next day.
The Cheese Barrel sits alongside Olive Farm Wines and has as extensive a list of cheeses as the Olive Farm does wines.
They don't make the cheese they serve, which they tell you as you walk in the door. I got the vibe that some people obviously think they do and hat has caused them grief in the past. They do, however, import some amazing cheeses from all over the world.
The rustic looking brown paper menu (do not remove) is a little overwhelming at first, but if you assume you can't make a bad choice it gets easier.
I think letting people take a copy of the menu that you can then study at your leisure would actually be a good idea for them. I think I'd stick one to my fridge and browse through it longingly on a regular basis. It would also mean I'd be able to make up my mind what to order before I got there. I know they have a web site too, but it's not the same. I digress...
We chose the French and Spanish regional boards with matching wine flights ($10 extra per person) and we were not disappointed. Also on offer are Australian and Italian boards which we might need to go back and sample. You can arrange your own boards from scratch or select from the other six pages of options, but too much choice can be an issue and I think in some ways they would be better off simplifying the choices.
The regional boards include 4 different cheeses, baguette, lavosh bread and seasonal fruit, which in our case was a small bunch of grapes. We bulked our up selection with some delicious salami and ham as extras which worked out perfectly. The cheese and wine matching was a really lovely option and you get tasting notes for both cheese and wine which was a nice touch.
The servings won't leave you heaving at the seams, we had plenty of room to sample the citrus tart with a nice sticky on the side.
The service was friendly and relaxed in just the way it should be and despite the fact we were there in February it wasn't too hot to sit out on the deck in the middle of the day.
I was so caught up in the excitement of the cheese that I didn't get my camera out once, which means I have an excuse to head back there sometime soon...
(Updated: We made a special trip back for some photos and some more cheese... every bit as good as I remember it).
I highly recommend a visit for any cheese lovers.