Next Door @ No. 4

2015-03-16 22.08.15 Next door to the long established Blakes in North Perth – well so close next door it’s actually an adjoining room – this new eatery recently invited customers to try their “Trust the Chef” degustation with 50% off the usual price of $50.  The restaurant calls you first to ascertain if you have any special dietary requirements, and then you really   do have place your trust in the chef . This intimate dining area with seating inside and in the small courtyard entry at the front, specialises in fine wines and small plates of fine food. Never one to pass up on a foodie bargain, Scotty and I decided we had to try it. The bargain price went out the  door of course when we ordered our bottle of wine, as the cheapest on the menu is $45.

2015-03-16 22.09.03 Seated with wine glasses filled, we were immediately served our plate of superb      house-baked sour dough  bread with salted butter.

2015-03-16 22.09.59 This was followed quickly by our course of duck and taleggio croquettes with hazelnut marmalade. The croquettes were crisp and tasty and oozing with silky taleggio, while we thought the chunky orangey marmalade was a bit overpowering for the delicate croquettes.

2015-03-16 22.11.04 Our next course consisted of marinated sardines with capers and dill, pickled red cabbage and goats cheese.  The rich cheese worked well with the crisp cabbage, but the full flavoured goats cheese dominated the delicate flavour of the sardines.  Perhaps some soft feta may have worked better here. The sardines though, were a delightful change from the usual oily-fleshed variety served, and overall, it was an interesting mix of tastes and textures.

2015-03-16 22.12.56 The chicken terrine with liver parfait was a hit with both of us. Decorated with delicate sesame seed wafers and slices of sweet red plum, this beautifully presented dish consisted of a slice of terrine, with a swirl of liver  parfait on top. My photo unfortunately doesn’t really capture the beautiful presentation of this dish.

2015-03-16 22.14.12Mildly flavoured Puy lentils with saffron cream and smoked onions were served next. Puy lentils are the rich relatives in the lentil family, but they are still lentils and I don’t equate them with fine dining. Maybe a bed of Puy lentils showcasing something fabulous, but not a plate of dahl as a course on its own. Having learned how to make dahl many many years ago from my Indian (then) mother-in-law, I have adapted and experimented with it over the years. It’s a comfort dish, an everyday dish, a typical wintry day dish, but for me, it’s not a degustation dish. Scotty was equally uninspired so we didn’t make much headway with this dish.

2015-03-16 22.16.11Grilled Eggplant with peanut praline and yellow curry was our final dish before dessert. With chunky slices of just-tender eggplant, it was an interesting mix of tastes and textures, but not something that made us scream for more or enticed us to clear the plate. 2015-03-16 22.17.11 Both desserts arrived at once, and proved a pleasant finale to our meal. The champagne sabayon with rhubarb and strawberries atop a scattering of cakey crumbs was light and refreshing.

2015-03-16 22.18.26 Our other dessert of Tonka pannacotta with burnt orange, malted chocolate and persian fairy floss, was our favourite though. Sinfully creamy and perfectly complimented by the layer of burnt orange on top, this was our favourite dish of the evening.

This tiny venue has many things going for it. It is a perfect, intimate spot for a romantic evening. The wine list, albeit expensive, is varied and good. The food is innovative and the chef gets to experiment with different ingredients and food combinations. The service is excellent and attentive. Some of the menu items, like the smoked cod croquettes, cauliflower risotto and grilled haloumi, sounded delightful and we wished we could have sampled them. When you place your trust in the chef however, not all things are created equal and inevitably there will be some hits and misses. That’s what happened on this occasion, but we still enjoyed the experience and would be happy to reprise it.

Next Door @ No4 on Urbanspoon

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