2018 Update: Artichoke has moved to an exciting new waterfront location in Sanctuary Cove.
Artichoke had been on our radar for some time, so one lazy weekend we wandered up to Ephraim island for a relaxed lunch. Somehow Artichoke sits right at home on Ephraim Island. There’s something therapeutic about crossing a bridge to an island, I feel, setting yourself apart from the mainland, leaving behind the daily bustle of coastal life.
Just inside the entrance of the estate, Artichoke is set off to the left hand side, a restaurant which once housed the renowned D’Arcy’s and Poseidon Restaurant. The remnants of these opulent restaurants still remain in Artichoke with its white linen cloths and covered chairs, the Poseidon symbol still visible on the menu boards. With a magnum of Pol Roger gracing the counter, Artichoke feels like a throwback to the decadent 80s, with its business lunches and fine dining.
We’ve driven to Artichoke to experience exactly that – the fine food of Executive Chef Grant Madgwick in luxe surroundings. Floor-to-ceiling glass gives sparkling water views on all sides of the restaurant. Enjoying such a gorgeous setting, this would be an ideal restaurant for a wedding or special celebration, the chef willing to tailor the menu to suit the occasion.
We’re dining on a menu of small dishes (about half the size of mains), which allows us to enjoy many tastes, especially when we share: Oysters with vinaigrette and nahm jim, Caesar salad with king prawns and gorgonzola sauce, Blistered Skin Barramundi with beetroot salad, and a Sticky Fig Pudding with hot cognac butterscotch sauce accompanied by nut crumble, homemade vanilla bean ice cream and a glass of port.
The food is absolutely outstanding, with attention to detail in every dish. Crumbles, purées and reduction sauces provide a flourish of flavour on almost every plate. The dishes are gorgeous to look at and bear an intensity in flavour that attests to behind the scenes magic in the kitchen. Little touches in the service are really special: jus strained onto the meat at the table, parmesan hand grated, butterscotch sauce poured over the hot fig pudding as we watch.
Looking through the menu, there are lots of dishes to come back for: The Chef’s signature seafood chowder loaded with seafood and seventeen different spices, Truffle Ravioli with vodka gorgonzola, spanner crab and prawn sauce, or the Red Duck Curry with lychee risotto and snake beans.
Despite the starched cloths and vaulted ceilings, service is efficient and friendly. Our waitress is well-informed, which we’d need to help us choose from the premium wine cellar. Holding everything from Pierro Chardonnay to Grange, it is priced accordingly. We choose from the house list of wine by the bottle and glass, settling on a glass of sparkling wine with our meal and Dimmattina coffee to accompany dessert.
While many diners have moved to far more casual dining, one hopes there will always be a place for this standard of fine food. Artichoke offers smaller portions, so that diners can experience amazing flavours at a keen price point. Intimate, with beautiful surrounds, it’s a throwback to grander times when exquisite food, an extensive wine list and fine service comprised a great meal out.
With the restaurant open until 4pm on Sundays, we’ve enjoyed an unhurried lunch. Sharing a little couple time away from family, during those few hours at Artichoke we feel indulged and spoiled, as though we’ve spent a whole weekend away.
Marina Shopping Village, Sanctuary Cove Ph: 07 5564 2188
Open Wed – Sat 11.30 – 3pm; 5.45 – 11pm; Sun 12noon – 3pm