You really should visit one of Australia's top restaurants ... And it's right in the middle of nowhere!
Thai cuisine has swept Australia in recent years, and with flavours ranging from delicate to very spicy, there is something for most palates. It's not unusual to drive through any suburb or town and find a Thai restaurant or two doing great business, but many possibly wouldn't expect to find such a place four hours south-east of Perth. While not exactly in the middle of nowhere, it nevertheless does come as a surprise.
Peter and Maleeya Form have such an establishment, 400m off the road in a paddock, hidden amongst the trees. The restaurant has been named twice in Gourmet Traveller's top 500 Australian restaurants and its visitors' book has several ringing endorsements proclaiming it as offering the "best Thai food in the world" … so it's obviously worth the drive!
Peter was born in the United States and Maleeya in Chiang Mai in Thailand's north. They met in Switzerland and both speak five languages.
When they moved to the property several years ago, the nine hectares had just one tree. Now there are around 800, thanks to the Form's efforts. It is set on a slope with views of national park for 50km. Nearby Porongurup Mountain has volcanic origins and is said to be 1.3 billion years old. Geologists often eat at the restaurant after a day of surveying, and their knowledge of the area is most interesting.
The restaurant is in what was a double garage, and holds only 30 diners. They concentrate on quality rather than quantity and Maleeya is most particular about her ingredients.
Much is grown or raised on the property organically grown lemongrass, coriander, galangal, kaffir lime, guava, ginger and 20 species of chilies are used to create the unique flavours, and six species of banana thrive there thanks to the rainfall and warmth. Guests are welcome to buy plants from the wide range.
Peter is a tree surgeon and runs a commercial nursery, specialising in bamboo. He has 1.2ha of land and grows 240 species of plants, some of which are used in Maleeya's dishes.
The experience of visiting Maleeya's Cafe is like one of visiting family or friends, and they guarantee that everything listed on the menu is always available fresh and delicious.