To say the Lakes Hotel at West Lakes is a proverbial wonderland for adults would be an understatement. Family owned since 1985, Trent Fahey recalls going to the formerly named The Lakes Resort Hotel with his family when he was young. His father often commenting: “One day I’ll buy this place.” So it was no surprise when his parents arrived home one day, quite excitable and with papers in hand which claimed ownership to this versatile building.
It has been a family run space ever since, which comes at no surprise, given the warm and inviting vibes their new renovations exude.
Walking into the sun drenched Mr. Neptunes Cafe is the embodiment of a long exhale. I can’t imagine a more relaxing place to dust off the stress of one’s day than sitting by one of the their big windows, overlooking the water as it gently moves by.
Just on the other side of this tranquil area are probably the largest televisions I’ve ever (ever, ever) stood in front of. A 195 inch HD monster with dual screen technology that’ll make any sports lover think he or she had died and gone to televised heaven. The really groovy thing about this set up is the immersive ceiling sound system! If you are on the left, you hear the left T.V. If you are on the right… well, you get the idea. Allowing for two games to be on at once without disturbing one another. And, if you care not the hear the game, you are met with complete silence on the other side of the cafe. Freakin’ brilliant!
The aesthetic renovations are something to tip your hat at, as well. With such a large scale project, the Fahey family brought in four different design teams to collaborate on, what is, a modern and perfectly effortless interior design. With wood from the original pillars nodding a token of appreciation to the past to the creative, bright and engaging mural wall, everything was very well executed.
After taking it all in, we headed to the bar for the most important part – tasting their new gin menu!
Bartender Matt Holding really knows his drinks! Studying mixology in Hong Kong, he has a passion for creating things which “inspire you to drink them.” And I’d have to say, in that simple goal, he’s very much succeeded.
Red Hen – CBD – Lemon & Basil
The forward flavours of this mix gave me a classic dry profile, which is brought forward by the tarte accent of lemon and balanced with the fragrant softness of basil. A perfect blend for tradition gin & tonic lovers. And it also happens to be made with Holdings (current) favourite gin!
KI Wild Gin – Kangaroo Island – Green Apple & Thyme
It’s always a good thyme for gin! Sorry (not sorry)… this pun had to be made. This mixture was sweet and slightly earthy, with an overall freshness that offered the perfect beverage on a warm day. Plus, on a personal note, the smell of thyme brings me back to gardening with my mom at the home I grew up in. So there were bonus nostalgia points for me with this one.
23rd Street – Renmark – Fresh Orange & Mint
The gin itself gave me a lovely softness and complexity, followed by fresh citrus flavours from the orange and a liveliness from the mint on on my back palate. I don’t want to hedge my bets too early, however, I’d say, this one may become the overall crowd pleaser.
Lyrebird – CBD – Strawberry & Lemon
It was very wise to add strawberries and lemon to this floral and bright gin. The flavours marry together as though they were always meant to be, a la every 90’s rom-com love story ever. It’s a very vibrant blend that is almost too easy to drink. But, of course, I did. Hey, I said almost!
Ounce – Magill – Fresh Orange & Cardamom
This one differs from the fresh orange & mint in the richness of it’s flavours. Offering my palate highlights or orange and vanilla, with a little spice lingering after each sip. Kind of reminds me of Christmas in a cup, but one that you can have year-round!
78 Degree – Adelaide Hills – Peppercorn & Lemon
Adding peppercorn was a brilliant addition to this complex and savoury gin. Cut with the fresh zing of lemon to balance out the underlying spice, if you’re a gin and tonic enthusiast this is definitely one to try. Just watch out you don’t chomp down on a peppercorn! Not the kind of spicy surprise you want on a Saturday afternoon.
Prohibition – Stirling – Ruby Red Grapefruit & Rosemary
I should have mentioned this earlier, but make sure you smell each creation Holding puts out. These gin and tonic master pieces offer incredible amoras, and this mix is no exception. Giving off a citrus freshness on the nose, which was perfectly complemented by the slightly sweet yet bitter flavours. I’m personally a sucker for the controversial tartness of grapefruit, so this quickly became one of my standouts.
Applewood Dry – Gumeracha – Lavender
With a delightful citrus flavour on the front of my palate, it is no wonder this gin and tonic was garnished with fresh lychee. The addition of lavender offered an incredible fragrant experience, both on the nose and in taste. This is a unique blend that I’m for sure ordering again!
Outside of Holdings suggested creations, there is also a “build it yourself” portion for the gin menu. So you can get as creative or stay as classic as you’d like!
As we sipped our delightful livations, Chef Nigel Rich served up incredible dishes that towed the line between comfort food and high end cuisine. From a hearty and healthy Nourish Bowl to a Buttermilk Fried Crab Burger all the way to their Gooey Fudge Sundae with warm caramel popcorn, marshmallows and, of course, fudge… if I could write half as good as Chef Rich cooks, I’d basically be J. K. Rowling.
But the experience doesn’t end at Neptune’s Cafe. Lakes Hotel hosts 2 restaurants, 2 bars, 1 cafe, 7 function rooms, a gaming room, bottle shop & cellar, a pool & spa, full sun deck and not to mention 72 rooms. What I am writing about is just the tip of the very wonderful iceberg that is Lakes Hotel at West Lakes.
You’ll just have to pop in for a visit, a meal, a gin (or two) and experience it all for yourself.
Words by Jamieson EileenWHERE: 141 Brebner Drive, West Lakes