Red Opium

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It’s tricky locating Red Opium on your first visit, but your efforts are rewarded with the innovative fusion dishes created by Thai chef Jak. There aren’t many restaurants in Perth located in a basement, so that’s another thing that sets this place apart.  Our  group of six agreed that we wanted to sample a cross section of dishes and opted for the $52pp Full Monty set menu. How could anyone resist a name like that?

The chilli crab dip was the opening event, and this featured crab meat and egg in a curry sauce, served with baguette. This was a perfect sharing dish and enabled us to get a feel for the dishes that were to follow.

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Our first tapas dish was a picture perfect set of freshly shucked oysters with chilli and lime, served in shot glasses. These little beauties were downed in a matter of seconds.

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Sashimi-grade salmon ceviche served with onions, chilli and wasabi was our second tapas choice, and continued the pleasant light spiced theme.

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Our Full Monty menu included four mains and the groups agreed on a mix of dishes that seemed to please everyone. After a few glasses of red and a top up of Dutch courage, the guys in our group were eager to extend the Full Monty theme and entertain the other patrons with a makeshift floor show. Must have been something about dining in a cellar with red lighting and gauzy curtains that induced that harebrained idea, but fortunately the arrival of the mains put the guys’ attention back on the food.

The roast duck red curry with lychees and vegetables was rich and creamy with a meld of fine flavours.  This satisfying dish of lush crispy skinned duck meat, combined with the sweetness of lychees and the zing of fresh herbs, was a favourite at our table.  I have to qualify this and say I still haven’t found a version to match the one Galangal Thai Cuisine produces. I guess Galangal’s red duck curry is my yardstick, and I can’t help but compare it to every other Thai restaurant’s version. This is not a negative reflection on Red Opium by any means; it’s just that this dish is one of my all time favourites and comparisons are inevitable for me.

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The Masaman beef curry was a hit with the guys – being all meaty and peanutty. I only had a potato, but managed with that to get a good a taste of the sauce which was redolent with tamarind, peanuts and coconut and a hint of cardamon.

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Our next main was Pad Cha chicken, featuring  a light, mild dish of chicken pieces cooked with green peppercorns, green beans, red capsicum and herbs. This was a refreshing change from the richer coconut-based curries.

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Last but not least was another prawn dish; king prawn green curry with veggies. Different from the usual green curry, this version came with green peppercorns and a small amount of sauce, and delicious fat juicy prawns. Green curry is my least favourite Thai curry, but I did enjoy this dish which really didn’t resemble a green curry in the traditional sense.

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Once again Red Opium proved to be a positive dining experience, dishing up a repertoire of innovative and interesting food. Whilst I love traditional Thai food, I also enjoy trying Thai food that dares to be different. Thai restaurants are proliferating in Perth so it’s wonderful to see a Thai chef doing something beyond the pale that sets him apart from the crowd. I’ve dined at Red Opium about six times over the past few years and have always enjoyed their creative and flavourful food. Service is friendly and efficient, and you always get the feeling you are a valued customer. If you enjoy Thai flavours but want to experience food that marries those flavours with imagination and passion, then make a booking for Red Opium.

http://www.redopium.com.au/Home%20.html

Red Opium Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Perugino, West Perth

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Perugino was the setting for a recent birthday dinner with a few friends. JS has dined at Perugino many times and loves it. We’d heard several intriguing comments about how the proprietor of Perugino has upset patrons with her brusque manner, but she was the perfect hostess and our experience was positive from start to finish. We loved the glass domed ceiling which gave the room a feeling of expansiveness, the single stem roses on the tables, and the tall potted leafy plants.

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Frau K suggested we try the Gourmet set menu for $100, and we decided we were up for it. Several hours and courses later we weren’t as confident we could manage it, but that’s a story for later. We started with a crispy flaky pastry roll filled with mozzarella cheese and served with a creamy truffle sauce. Dieters beware – if you’re counting kilojoules you can forget coming here.

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We wondered at the lack of occupied tables on a Friday night. Could be that everyone was across the road at the Brown Fox, where we’d popped in earlier for an aperitif. Noisy and bursting at the seams, this was obviously the happening place in West Perth on Fridays. On the quieter Perugino side of Outram Street we were able to chat in peace and quiet, sipping on our glasses of Aravina Estate Rose and waiting for our second course of calamari. Whilst a teensy bit chewy, the pan fried calamari was nevertheless enjoyable with its lemon and pepper flavouring, and was a welcome light course following the heavier pastry dish.

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Seafood was dominant on the menu which made me very happy. Juicy garlic prawns were served next, lightly crumbed and seasoned. I think I enjoyed this dish more than my friends, who felt that the prawns could have been a bit fresher. They’re big meat eaters, so I secretly think they were hanging out for the real carnivore’s food.

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But wait – woo hoo! – the next course up was seafood. Another big plus from me. The risotto with chunks of fresh red emperor was my favourite dish of the evening. Bursting with fresh fishy flavours, the rice was fragrant, starchy and perfectly cooked. The flavours in this dish were beautiful and I could have licked the darn plate clean.

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Just when we thought that fish had bowed out for the evening, out came the next course of swordfish, rolled and stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella. Naturally I was happy as a crab in a tidal pool with this, whereas The Prof and JS were wondering where the heck their meaty four-legged friends were hiding. The fish was moist and tasty, but the other gals barely made inroads into their plates. This prompted another visit by the chef, concerned that we weren’t cleaning up our plates as good diners should. We assured him that all was OK, and that we were ensuring there’d be enough room for dessert. This seemed to placate him somewhat.

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Are we there yet? Not quite. Whew… Two ravioli parcels filled with shredded duck meat, sprinkled with fresh parmesan and on a bed of sweet carrot puree was our sixth course,  and it was a pleasant and light dish, without being outstanding.

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We hadn’t been keeping count of our courses, and were surprised to learn that the biggest course was yet to come. Slow braised goat was the start attraction apparently, but three of us had to admit defeat and tell the waiter that we. simply. could. not. eat. another. course. Except for dessert; that goes without saying. So Frau K was served the goat which she tucked into with alacrity, only to throw her hands up after two mouthfuls. She was offered a doggy bag which she gladly accepted. JS and The Prof were somewhat cheesed that they were too stuffed to even consider the meat they had been hankering for all night. Frau K said the goat was superb; incredibly tender and worth waiting for. If only she had the room in her stomach to eat it. I often wonder why they save the biggest courses for last – as for me it’s often the last course that is my undoing. I have been known to stay up all night with chronic indigestion, so this is why I tend to call it quits now with degustations when I know I’ve reached saturation point.

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I mentioned that we had strategically left some room for dessert, but when the dessert trolley rolled up we were inwardly groaning. Despite our protestations, our waiter Francesco piled up our plates with several types of sweet treats, obviously thinking we were protesting too much. We weren’t and sadly we made little headway into our last course. I did manage a few bites of the apple tart, and I loved the caramelised base and the slightly tart taste of the apples.

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Whilst the dessert trolley was replete with tortes, cakes and tarts, it was all a bit much after ploughing our way through so many courses. I don’t normally go for sorbets, but that actually would have been the perfect finish to the meal for me, instead of
the heavy sweets on offer. But then again if we hadn’t been so greedy and opted for the degustation, that wouldn’t have been an issue. ‘Nuff said.

We were given complimentary glasses of limoncello, and I confess to polishing off three of them because the gals couldn’t fit another drop of anything in. Well I wasn’t driving so I couldn’t possibly pass that up.

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Perugino is an old fashioned type of establishment where great pride is expressed in everything from the immaculate napery, the extensive wine and champagne selection, the attentive and professional service, to the quality food. Our charming waiter Francesco is the son of the owners and has worked at Perugino for 22 years. For him, the job and the family are one, and it’s obvious he loves what he does. Our experience was delightful and while this type of venue won’t win over the hipsters, it is perfect for those who enjoy a spot of fine dining with old world ambience.

http://www.perugino.com.au

Perugino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Our Table

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A small stretch of turf on Grand Prom in Bedford is home to several innocuous-looking shops including a bonsai specialist, a massage parlour, a few takeaway joints, and a relative newcomer to the restaurant scene, Our Table. I’d been so accustomed to driving by and ignoring this strip opposite the Bedford Bowling Club that it was several months before I twigged to this new kid on the block apparently serving up decent fare.

And so it was with three friends in tow that I arrived on a blustery Saturday night with a bottle of vino under my arm, ready to sample the wares. The menu is largely Italian with several fish and seafood options, various steaks and a range of pastas. Although some of the dishes are familiar, some are refreshingly different. Although the entrees looked appealing, we all decided to go straight for the big girl stuff followed by dessert.

Aside from the regular menu found on the website, one of the daily specials caught my eye. I love chilli mussels, and the Hot Pot sounded like a variation on that. In a rich tomatoey mild chilli sauce sat fresh prawns, the softest strips of calamari I’ve eaten in a long while, half a Morton Bay bug and oodles of plump orange mussels. Two slices of lightly toasted sourdough bread came along for the ride – perfect for dipping into that wonderful slurpy sauce.  I was thankful I’d skipped entrees as this mother was a big serve. I managed to finish it too; I couldn’t bear to leave a drop of that beautiful sauce behind.

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Chicken and mushroom tortellini was served in a light creamy sauce with baby spinach leaves scattered through, with just enough heat for them to wilt. My friend enjoyed the flavours of this dish but said it could have been warmer. Shame about that as the other elements of the dish worked very well. Everyone loves a piping hot meal, especially in winter. I think this may have sat in the kitchen for a bit, waiting on the other dishes to be ready. This dish was another of the daily specials and was priced around $24, but I forgot to make a note of it. The pasta and gnocchi dishes all ranged from $21 to $26 and all featured home made pasta/gnocchi.

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The seafood platter for one was a generous serving featuring a range of grilled and lightly crumbed seafood.   Barramundi, prawns, scallops, calamari, a Morton Bay bug and a lone oyster appeared, along with a bowl of warming chilli mussels.  Crunchy potato wedges, a side salad and dipping sauces complimented the seafood. For $38.50 this is value for money these days, and could likely be shared between two with a few entrees thrown in. Fresh well cooked seafood sealed the deal, and much as my pal Lindi enthused about  her meal, she couldn’t finish it.

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Our Table’s version of Surf ‘n Turf – Ocean and Earth – starred a whopping 400gm  rib eye steak, half a Morton Bay bug, potato wedges, sautéed mushrooms and creamy garlic sauce. A feast fit for a man, but also a lovely lady with a hankering for meat. The steak was cooked medium as requested, and this dish was given the seal of approval.

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We all managed to squeeze in the obligatory desserts, although Our Table’s range is quite small. It was the usual suspects of tiramisu and creme brûlée, along with profiteroles with vanilla custard and chocolate sauce. We all opted for the profiteroles, but while the choux pastries were perfect and the custard light and not too sweet, the sauce was served at room temperature. I thought it an unwritten rule that chocolate sauce when served with profiteroles must be warm. Sadly the chef at Our Table didn’t get that memo, but next time around I’ll know to request that.

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This inconspicuous suburban venue serves up decent food at reasonable prices. Add BYO into the mix and you’re on to a winner. By 7.30pm on a Saturday night there wasn’t an empty table in sight, and I suspect there were many tables of returning local diners and a few large family groups. We enjoyed warm and efficient service and all in all, it is a great recipe for a pleasant evening out, minus the inner city traffic and parking woes.

 

http://ourtable.com.au/menu/

 

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Meeka

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From the moment you enter this twisty-turny world where “tagines and pashmak meet Australia head on” you experience one delight after another. Far from looking like an Arabian nights tent, Meeka is sophisticated and modern with hints of Moroccan souk dotted amongst the white tablecloths and sparkling glassware.

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Our group of six wisely decided to follow the advice of Faye, the joint owner of Meeka with her daughter (head chef Leah Clarke), and order the Petite Banquet at $55 a head. There’s some flexibility shown here too, as instead of following the banquet menu precisely, Faye suggested we could drop a few tagines and substitute them with two dessert platters. It takes a wise woman to know that a group of six women diners will definitely want to squeeze in some sweet treats after their main meal.

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Our entrees were served soon after we’d decided on our dishes, and the food just didn’t stop coming after that. All up there were four entrees served and by the time we’d worked our way through them we were relieved that we hadn’t ordered the banquet’s usual five tagines.

A platter of pickles, mixed breads, dukkah, olives, sausage and spreads was served first.

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Hazelnut pumpkin fava bean falafel with whipped feta and beetroot jam was Meeka’s spin on the traditional version, and its elements of sweetness and nuttiness were quite different from the usual chick pea style.

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My favourite entree was the duck pastries. Pulled duck encased in pastry was accompanied by feta and chilli jam. Wow. I could have eaten the plate of these myself.

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Our final entree was Kataifi pastry rolls encasing fresh dates stuffed with goats feta and walnuts. Sweet, crunchy and salty all at the same time. I loved the Moroccan-meets-Australian theme present in Meeka’s food. Whilst the traditional middle eastern flavours were present, the imagination and creativity of the dishes was amplified by the fusion elements. Biting into these tasty morsels invariably produced exclamations around the table of “oh wow, I wasn’t expecting that!” Different but damned good.

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After a civilised wait time, the tajines arrived and were presented with justified aplomb. Lids were removed from the colourful tajine pots, and aromas wafted across the table. Our colourful individual dining plates were all different and became the topic of excited conversation. According to our wonderful wait staff, there is often serious competition among diners to score the most beautiful plates. Plate envy taken literally. They even swapped a plate for one of our gals who decided that only a purple plate would do.

Chermoula fish koftas with prawns and baby squid were cooked in a Galliano tomato broth with fennel and potato. More soupy than stew-like, this tajine was a light dish that was slightly reminiscent of an Italian hot pot. With coriander and preserved lime added for good measure, it was another unusual but satisfying dish of beautiful flavours.

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Our second tajine was chicken with orange, green olives and zucchini cooked with baharat; a sweet, mild mix of spices comprising paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, cumin and coriander. This was a delicate, mild dish of succulent chicken, topped with cacik; strained yoghurt mixed with herbs and seasoning.

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Dorper lamb was our lucky last tajine, and this was the crowd favourite. As regular readers will know by now I seldom eat red meat so can’t proffer an opinion about this dish, but if appearances were indicative this dish would win prizes. The lamb had been cooked slowly in a red pepper sauce with candied harissa almonds, prunes, chickpeas, ras el hanout and baby onions and carrots. The result was a lush, thick, sweet sauce with tender meat pieces. The girls loved it.

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In addition to the tajines, a few side dishes came with our banquet. Grilled eggplant with bocconcini, hazelnuts, herbs and a honey glaze was a refreshingly light sidekick to the richness of the tajines.

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Cauliflower is always a crowd pleaser and seems to pop up on menus all over town these days in various incarnations. Meeka’s version with spiced roasted almonds and coriander salt, was like everything else delicious, and a perfect light side dish. We also had shared bowls of Israeli couscous to mop up our tajine juices, so as you can tell the six of us were well on the way to being sated. But we could of course manage a sweet treat or two.

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Our dessert platters featured fluffy doughnuts stuffed with citrus curd, wild strawberry sorbet, spiced pumpkin caramel milk pie, baklava ice cream and brown sugar pavlova with roasted strawberries. This was an array of exotic and unusual sweet treats that we all enjoyed but sadly could not quite finish. I loved the brown sugar pav, but the strawberry sorbet and the pumpkin pie were also commendable. It was refreshing to find desserts not based around the common theme of brûlées, churros and tiramisu that every restaurant seems to serve versions of these days. There was originality and inventiveness at play, but that seems to summarise everything Meeka does.

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Small wonder that this Subiaco restaurant has won state and national awards for their brilliant food, and for their extensive and respected wine selection. The Meeka crew describes their food as “modern Australian with a middle eastern twist”, so if you come with an open mind, an empty stomach and a love of good food, you will as we did, have a superlative dining experience.

http://www.meekarestaurant.com.au

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Marumo

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Having waited what seemed an eternity to get into the exalted Marumo’s door, my pals JS, Frau K, The Prof and I were like excited schoolgirls waiting to visit their teen crush. Securing a table at Marumo is a mission in itself, and it took me a good six months of frantic internet keyboarding to secure a table. It was worth waiting for. The tiny restaurant features an Omakase menu that evolves monthly, according to produce availability.

Our amuse bouche was presented shortly after we were seated. For the life of me I cannot remember what this was except that it was seafood, and a simple but fitting precursor to what followed.

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Chef Moe  sources salmon roe from the Yarra Valley and yamaimo (a type of yam) from southern Japan. This man is committed to excellence in all he does, as we were to see throughout the evening.  Our first course was yellow fin Pacific tuna and yamaimo. The tuna nestled on a jus of mirin and lemon juice, with a hint of mustard wasabi. Just melt-in-your-mouth fresh and as with every course, beautifully presented.

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Next up was the Margaret River beef tatami, featuring lightly seared beef served with a light Ponzu sauce and dried yuzu (a tangy and sweet Japanese citrus fruit). I’m not generally a fan of red meat, but this dish was so subtly flavoured that it wasn’t at all like eating a piece of steak. There was no strong meaty flavour, and the beef was incredibly lean, soft and delicate. The light, citrusy flavour of the sauce was perfect for dipping the meat in, while the tiny pieces of spring onion and thin radish slices provided a crunchy contrast.

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Soft shell crab and enoki was presented next, and this was one of my two favourite courses. Fried nori was rolled around lightly battered soft shell crab, mashed potato and sweet corn. Served with tiny enoki mushrooms and a dashi-based stock, this was unlike any soft shell crab dish I have ever eaten. The crunch of the crab and the nori contrasted with the soft potato and the sweetness of the corn. We were advised to eat this in one mouthful so as to capture the tastes and textures of all the elements of the dish. It was a brilliantly executed dish and I would come back here just for this.

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The chef’s section of sashimi was next up, and this featured scallops, salmon and (I think) kingfish. Although I took notes throughout dinner, I was focused on eating and enjoying the experience so I wasn’t meticulous about noting all of the details. Sometimes you just have to savour the moment. Again, the feature of this course was the ultra freshness of the ingredients.

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Our next course of Tasmanian salmon belly sushi was my other favourite dish of the evening. Sushi never tasted this good. Crunchy prawns were encased in sushi rice and topped with barbecued salmon belly and salty fish roe. The smoky barbecue flavour of the salmon belly really shone in this dish and again, we were advised to eat the whole piece in one mouthful so we could experience all of the flavours at the same time.

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The final savoury course was the biggest one of the evening. Linley Valley pork fillet had been cooked sous vide, then pan fried and served with a lush sweet Mirin-soy sauce. None of us could finish this dish though this is no reflection on the dish itself, but rather on the size of the dish towards the end of an immensely satisfying meal. I’m fairly certain men would have no issues polishing off the meat, but for four gals it proved too much. Not to mention we knew dessert lay ahead and we absolutely had to leave space for that.

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The courses were spread out over several hours, and we were never rushed. I enjoyed the explanation that came with each course, and the way each course was so lovingly presented. There is so much integrity and love in Marumo’s little kitchen.

Before dessert was presented, we were served a small sorbet.  The tang of juicy orange was evident in this refreshing little citrus palate cleanser.

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Dessert was a delectable concoction of miso caramel parfait, pear and popcorn. I love the way chef Moe turns everyday ingredients like miso, into something special and out-of-the-box. The miso flavour was subtle and barely detectable. As expected of Japanese desserts this was a light but creamy dish that was a fitting end to a memorable meal.

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This is one of the most enjoyable fine dining experiences I’ve had in Perth. It’s quality minus the hefty price tag, and minus the pomp and ceremony. For $60, you have an evening of superlative dining in a cosy atmosphere. You can even BYO your booze. Chef Moe loves to cook. That’s all he wants to do, he told me. “I don’t want to think about the details. I know that people complain because they can’t get a table here. But I leave my wife to take care of all that. I just want to cook”. And cook he does. Although “cook” seems to belie the mastery of what he does. He doesn’t just cook; he imagines, creates and perfects.

Now that Dimmi is handling the table bookings it is easier to book a table, and that is how I managed to secure a booking after fruitless months of trying beforehand. You have to be prepared to eat whatever Moe creates on the day, so there’s no room for fussy diners in this establishment. But if you treasure exceptional food experiences and appreciate cooking as an art form, I recommend you indulge yourself at Marumo’s. Just be prepared for a bit of wait, as tables are now booked up 10 weeks ahead.

http://www.marumo.com.au

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Chez Pierre

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Fine French dining without the price tag. That’s how Chez Pierre can be summarised in a few words, although the experience is so much more than that. White linen, sparkling glassware and vases of fresh orchids on each table create the old world ambience without the stuffiness.

Set in large but tasteful surroundings complete with a separate bar area and private dining room, this establishment provided our group with a pleasant evening of royal French fare for the not-so-princely sum of $59.90 each. The service was attentive and professional, complete with charming French accents. We were seated, napkins placed in laps, and drink orders taken. Wine by the glass was reasonably priced and I enjoyed my tipple of NZ Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($11) with my meal.

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We’d chosen to dine with the C’est Bon regional menu that focusses on a different area of France every week.

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Our week featured Nice, so fish and seafood were the stars.  We started with an Amuse Bouche of cumin-spiced pumpkin soup; a perfect little winter warmer.

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A basket of crusty bread with salted French butter had been placed on the table, and it was incredibly tempting to devour piece after piece of this. If you’ve been to France you’ll know that the French bake the most amazing bread and make the tastiest butter imaginable, and Chez Pierre’s versions were equally good. This is always the dilemma when served amazing bread in restaurants – you’re tempted to keep eating, but you fill up and can’t finish your other courses. A bit pointless  unless you just go to eat bread and soup.

Our entree was soupe aux fruits de mer; seafood chowder full of chunky fresh pieces of fish, mussels and seafood. This dish was rich, creamy and absolutely delectable.

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A fruity mango sorbet was served between courses. This palate cleanser was the perfect segue from entree to main.

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Our main course of fresh Atlantic salmon steak served on a bed of fettuccine with a beurre blanc sauce, was a beautiful piece of fish. Although the salmon was cooked a tad more than I prefer, the combination of fresh fettucine with capers, olives and a creamy sauce was a notch above very good. The French take their sauces seriously and these can make or break a dish.  This lush sauce was flavoured with a hint of tarragon, and was perfect for the salmon.

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At this point I was wondering how I was going to fit in dessert. It may not seem like much, but the entree and main were substantial and I was thankful I wasn’t wearing anything with a snug waistband. But one has to soldier on, right?  Termed Creme Catalan on the menu, it was essentially a creme brûlée, flavoured with orange and cinnamon. The custard was smooth and the top had the perfect ratio of crispy burnt caramel, but it was such a huge serve that I could barely finish half.

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Chez Pierre was a pleasant dining experience with quality food and excellent service. They even have a parking attendant who helps you manoeuvre your car into their little car park when you arrive. It’s the little touches that often determine how much value the owners place in their customers, and in this case it’s obvious the customer is king. If you choose a night with the C’est Bon dinner, you won’t have to part with a fortune to enjoy a quality meal. You could also try their three course business lunch for $45 or for those with bigger appetites, their 8 course degustation dinner.

http://chezpierre.com.au/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

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Aliment

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Aliment cafe in West Perth was the perfect spot for a casual lunch meeting with a few friends mid-week. Quiet and with underground parking, it is a fuss free spot that serves up generous portions of lunch dishes at  reasonable prices.

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My Grilled Chicken Salad with mushrooms and slow roasted beetroots, was enormous and exceptional value for $15. Try as I might, I couldn’t finish it. The creamy tarragon dressing and ton of baby spinach leaves completed this filling healthy-ish meal.

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My pal Pollyanne ordered Toast and Toppings and for $18, this would have been ample for two to share. I’ve never seen so much feta on a plate; not to mention the generous spread of smashed avocado on each slice of sourdough toast, chopped tomato and mint, soft poached egg and a splash of balsamic.

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English Rose opted for a bagel with bacon, tomato, melted cheese and spinach.  Didn’t get the price of this one, but there were crusty chicken or continental baguettes on display priced between $7.50 and $8.50, absolutely loaded with fillings.

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My long macchiato was noteworthy, made with Single Origin Ethiopian coffee beans.

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Aliment had some yummy looking scones with jam and cream. Because lunch was so damn good, we’ll forgive them the spelling error 🙂

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There were daily specials including pumpkin soup with toast, caramel nut French toast and choc brownie pancakes.

Aliment is a few metres from the uber popular Hylin, but is far less busy and the food on offer was amazing value for money. Check it out.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aliment/563422080443305

 

Aliment on Urbanspoon

Villa D’Este

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It seems Villa D’Este has been around almost as long as I have, and that’s a while. In the heart of the West Perth business district, this Italian stalwart keeps chugging along, serving excellent business lunches at a price that will make your heart sing. For $38.80 you can indulge in a three course meal, served by waiters straight from charm school.

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Set in a converted house, the settings are stylish and sophisticated in an old world way. Not a whiff of the hipster vibe in this old house.

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What you get is a classy atmosphere with white linen, service at a steady and relaxed pace, and hearty Italian food that will leave you content and glad you came.

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There are all manner of nooks and crannies here with little alcoves and comfy lounge chairs, and I imagine in winter it would be a very cosy spot for a romantic rendezvous.

Our ladies luncheon group was in fine spirits, and we all ordered a glass of vino to go with our lunch. There were about six choices of both red and white wine by the glass, along with two bubbly selections.

My entree was grilled baby squid with white wine, olives and a hint of chilli. This was an ideal first course; tender, light and fresh.

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A few of our group elected to have the antipasti as their entree. The cold antipasti plates were set up buffet style on a table, and you helped yourself to the offerings of cold meats, mozzarella, octopus, calamari, marinated vegetables, arancini and olives.

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This plate of antipasti goodies looked inviting, and two of our group enjoyed the freshness and variety on offer.

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The main course options included veal scaloppine, barramundi, gnocchi, pasta and lamb. I chose a papardelle pasta with walnuts and gorgonzola, and it was a massive portion that I couldn’t do justice to. There wasn’t quite enough sauce for this huge amount of pasta so it was a bit dry.  Sadly I think my main choice wasn’t up to the standards of the other choices for mains. Next time I’ll know better.

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Others in our group chose the veal, fish and gnocchi dishes, and really enjoyed their choices. Unfortunately I didn’t get photos of these other mains, so you’ll just have to take my word (second hand) that they were delicious and well presented.

Desserts included the ubiquitous tiramisu, gelati and baked chocolate pudding. There was a mix of these ordered at our table, and I can tell you that all everyone in our group was scraping their plate. My tiramisu was delectable. I know this is the stock standard Italian dessert, but the versions on offer around the traps vary enormously as far as quality goes. This was one of the better versions, but I had to bolt mine down as my parking ticket was about to expire, and I wasn’t going to risk a hefty fine on the back of a bargain lunch.

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Villa D’Este is the perfect spot for a girls lunch, business lunch, romantic lunch, or whatever you fancy really. I think I might return in winter to sample a different menu, as it changes regularly. It’s a wonderful way to experience a spot of fine dining without the luxury price tag. It’s in the Entertainment Book too, so you can get the benefit of a discount on your evening meal. The discount doesn’t apply to the lunch special.

http://www.villadeste.com.au

Click to add a blog post for Villa D'Este Restaurant on Zomato

The Charles Hotel

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Folks of my vintage will remember the Charles fondly. Back in its day it boasted wicked Sunday sessions with the likes of Renee Geyer, Doug Parkinson, Russell Morris, The Hues Corporation, The Angels, and the list just goes on. The fact that this place is not only still standing, but still hosting awesome live bands is testament to its strong following in Perth. Weekly Blues nights, comedy nights and regular touring live bands are the staples of the Charles Hotel. Sadly its days look like being numbered, as the site is designated for an apartment complex in the not-too-distant-future. Thousands of music fans around the traps will be crying into their wine glasses when this old man goes down – it’s probably the last of its kind in Perth.

I’ve seen a few dud bands over the years – let’s not talk about the Dragon reincarnation – but when The Frames play their annual gig, I’m one of the multitudes busting their chops to get the coveted tickets. Old rockers around Perth in the 80s will have fond memories of these guys belting out their Cold Chisel/Meatloaf/Angels covers in the Nookenburra, the Booragoon and the Overflow. These days the guys are a bit longer in the tooth, but they can still belt out The Heavy Resurrection Shuffle and Working Class Man, and they can still get an entire pub on its feet in a dancing frenzy. I can’t bear to think about what the end of this pub means. It’s not just any pub; it’s an institution. It’s been rocking and rolling since the 70s, and how can such a piece of Perth folklore be replaced? It can’t my friends, it can’t.

I’m getting to the point of this blog which is not only to shout the praises of this North Perth institution as a music venue (let’s not dwell on the acoustics; have mercy), but to talk about the grub on offer. Now, this is not a place I would choose to dine in on any normal night, but on a Frames night, eating in is obligatory. You come, you eat, you enter the inner sanctum of musicdom, and you thank all the long departed rock stars that you didn’t have to queue up with the hordes of ageing groupies. Bypassing the queue is your just reward for dining at The Charles.

So how did the food stack up? Well it sure isn’t posh nosh, but as a filler before a frenzied night of dancing and ringing ears, it does the job. The token male in our group naturally ordered the Scotch fillet steak, and it arrived drenched in a peppercorn sauce and cooked medium as requested. He was a happy man.

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Fish and chips – the ubiquitous pub meal – came in several versions. My $26 dish of grilled snapper with chips was fine. Not five star stuff, but it wasn’t terrible either. Fish wasn’t top quality but it was fresh and the chips were crisp and cooked well.

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Another friend went the traditional route and ordered the battered version of snapper and chips. Again, she was satisfied with her choice that came with a side salad and a serve of tartare sauce.

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Our last Frames groupie settled on the salt and pepper calamari with chips. I managed to sneak a taste; it was tender and as good as many versions I’ve tried in far more expensive establishments.

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The Charles Hotel will never be remembered for its food, but it will be remembered for the brilliant musical memories it has given Perthites over the years. If you do go to a show and want to bypass the pre-show queue, go and have dinner beforehand. You won’t be thrilled, but odds are you won’t be disappointed either.

Oh, and The Frames? Bloody AMAZING.

http://charleshotel.com.au/RestaurantMain/restaurant/parmigiana/index.php

The Charles Hotel on Urbanspoon

Grill and Chill

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With immigration stats confirming migrants from the Subcontinent comprise the second highest of Australia’s citizenship conferrals, it’s inevitable that our Indian eateries are going to grow. Drive through most suburbs these days and you’ll find an Indian restaurant taking precedence over the Chinese restaurants that once filled this spot. Not all Indian restaurants are created equal of course, and Grill and Chill was our group’s choice for a mid-week dinner, based on its glowing food reviews. Both the Urbanspoon and the TripAdvisor peeps seem to love it.

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I was one of a handful of people who arrived early, and it looked like a quiet evening lay ahead. By 7.30 however, there wasn’t a spare table and people were still turning up without bookings and having to wait. Something must be good, right?  Well the food certainly was good, but the service was another story.

My friend JD and I chose to share our dishes and ordered the vegetarian platter for starters. This generous plate featured onion bhajis, tandoori paneer cubes, vegetable samosas and Hara Bhara kebabs (vegetable cutlets made with spinach and potato), with a smooth mint dipping sauce. The mixed platter was a great way to sample a variety of Indian savoury treats, and it was lucky we’d only ordered one main dish as we would have struggled to eat any more. The starters were appetising and flavourful, although paneer on its own is often a bit lacklustre and I prefer it in a curry where it absorbs the flavours of the sauce.

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Two of the group who adore onion bhajis, ordered a plate of the tasty fritters and were well satisfied. It’s a little bit of a guilty pleasure ordering a whole plate of deep fried bhajis, and this non-greasy version was very good. They were crunchy, with a good ratio of onion to batter, and spiced perfectly. I’m glad we had a few on our mixed platter.

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The fish dishes sounded enticing so we opted for the Goan Fish Curry; a rich coconut cream based dish with firm fleshed fish fillets, mustard seeds and curry leaves. It was lush and tasty, and served with Basmati rice. We ordered the medium heat version, which was just as well as the chilli factor in Grill and Chill appears to be quite high.

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Two of our group each ordered the Chicken Biryani, and although they expected the mild versions, both complained that it was super spicy. Despite their attempts to wave down a waiter to get the soothing yoghurt raita that came with the dish, this proved frustrating and it eventually arrived some 20 minutes later. It had taken about an hour for the main curry dishes to arrive and it was obvious the kitchen and wait staff were under enormous pressure. When I say wait staff, this was actually just the owner and one other guy – absolutely run off their feet and unable to cope with demands of the packed restaurant.

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Our other group member chose the Tandoori Chicken for her main, served with a naan bread. It was a generous serving, and delicious according to her. She barely made inroads into her large serving, and resorted to a doggie bag.

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What I really don’t understand about restaurants these days is why they scrimp on wait staff. When you know you are going to be busy, employ another waiter. Two guys to serve a full restaurant – that’s just ridiculous. There was no way we were going to get their attention to order a drink, so we had to go up to the counter and ask for them. I noticed the table next to us with their hands in the air trying to attract the waiter, but in the end they just gave up. The young waiter did the best he could, even managing to replenish the water carafes throughout the evening; however he was run off his feet and just couldn’t provide the service that was expected. It’s not good enough to just serve great food these days; dining out is an experiential thing and people expect good food, good service and ambient surroundings.

However, the food at Grill and Chill was exceptional and there were so many other menu items I’d love to try. Most of the 12 different chicken dishes sound delicious, and the signature Honey Chilli Cauliflower dish is apparently amazing. There is a lunch time Thali plate on offer for $14.99 and this would be a great way to sample a few different dishes. When a restaurant is packed to the rafters on a Wednesday night, it’s doing something right. It just needs to get with the programme and employ another waiter or two.

http://grillandchill.com.au

Grill & Chill on Urbanspoon

Chilli Orange

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Along the increasingly popular Angove St strip sits Chilli Orange, coolly beckoning with its Asian fusion menu, its funky wavy wooden ceiling and its Tuesday night $45 degustation offer. That of course is what tempted me and a group of companions a few weeks ago. What better way to test a restaurant’s metier than by sampling a selection of its dishes at a really reasonable price?

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The evening began on a promising note but as time ticked on and the restaurant filled to capacity, the three wait staff appeared woefully overworked. Trying to get someone’s attention to order glasses of wine proved a Herculean effort and at times we had to resort to doing windmill imitations in our seats.

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Our first course arrived within about 30 minutes of being seated and was warmly welcomed. Pieces of tender roasted duck with slivers of crisp vegetables and a slice of red chilli, were wrapped in thin pancakes and dipped in hoisin sauce. Murmurings of approval all round.

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The next course of soft shelled crab with wasabi mayo followed after a 40 minute interval. It’s a long wait between courses here, but that’s not too awful if a) you’re in good company, and b) the wine is flowing. Well as mentioned above, the wine was trickling rather than flowing, but we didn’t die. In fact we were having rather a good time, and so was everyone else judging by the ascending noise level in this little place. You would think the wooden ceiling and wall would cushion the noise, but strangely it didn’t. The crunchy deep-fried crab was crisp and not oily – the bed of peppery rocket foiled the richness of the crab and the mild wasabi mayo complimented it well enough.

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Others at my table dined next on the seared rare beef tatsoi salad with chilli, orange and blackbean dressing, and it looked sharp and refreshing with its green leaves and onion and radish slices.

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My course was a different matter. There’s always the danger when you request changes to a degustation menu, that you’ll end up with inferior options to your dining companions. Not wanting the red meat options, I was presented with a calamari substitute. This fried salt and pepper dish served with a side of sweet chilli sauce was my least favourite of the evening and was pedestrian at best. It didn’t help that it followed the previous deep fried course.

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Grilled swordfish with a salad of pink grapefruit, cucumber and fresh herbs was plated up next, and this was served with a lemon juice, chilli and fish sauce accompaniment. Although the fish was tender, the flavours in the sour sauce did nothing to complement the slight bitterness of the grapefruit. Something sweeter would have lifted this dish and balanced it out.

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Just when you couldn’t possibly imagine another course of fried something, out came my next dish of tempura prawns with soy sauce on the side. By this stage I was fried out, and as tasty as the prawns were, this sight made my ole heart sink. With the varied menu on offer at Chilli Orange and with a reasonable choice of grilled dishes, serving up three deep fried courses out of five was unnecessary and ill-thought out. The inclusion of a simple course of asparagus or a salad would have been welcome and far more suitable. However that’s often the way for diners whose dietary habits don’t conform to the norm. There were three on our table of eight who chose not to eat the meat options, and all concurred that we had drawn the short straws. It seemed a great pity too, as there are many interesting dishes on the Chilli Orange menu.

Our other five diners were very happy with their meal. Their fifth course of crisp pork belly was enthusiastically received, but I didn’t think to take a photo to share. There’s no doubt that the five entree-sized courses for $45 is good value for money, but it’s only good value if you enjoy all the courses and if the meal is balanced and well-thought out. For meat lovers that was definitely the case, but for the rest of us, the standard wasn’t the same.

I’d love to return to this restaurant to enjoy a less crowded and less noisy experience when it’s not degustation night and when the staff aren’t so harried. There’s a small but interesting wine list, and the a la carte menu sounds inventive and delicious. Fortunately this little place on Angove Street is only five minutes drive from home, so that makes a return visit easily achievable.

http://www.chilliorange.com.au

Chilli Orange on Urbanspoon

Wrap N Rice Thai Cafe, North Perth

Scotty and I are always keen to try local venues where we can BYO vino, and as soon as we heard about this new Thai eatery on popular Angove St, we had to check it out. This small, cheerful venue has a steady stream of people coming in to buy takeaway food, along with others settling in on the tables both inside and outside on the pavement. No sooner had we sat, than our wine was opened and placed in an ice bucket, and a bottle of water and glasses placed on the table. We were off to an auspicious start.

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Scotty and I had to try the Thai fish cakes of course. We’ve tried countless versions of these over the years, and these were smooth, tasty discs, served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Happily, they were not rubbery as Thai fish cakes often are.

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Our other entree was rice paper rolls stuffed with grilled salmon and tamarind sauce. Bursting with fresh salad and herbs, these rolls were light and tasty.

Tempted as we were by the perennial Thai dish of Pad Thai, we were not to be swayed on this occasion. We opted for a red chicken curry and a prawn stir fry.

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This wasn’t a traditional Thai red curry, but rather a Westernised version without the chilli heat expected from this dish. The long strips of soft bamboo shoots were an unusual feature of this dish and despite the curry’s mild flavour, it was tasty and flavourful. This curry didn’t have the depth or complexity of flavour usually associated with a red curry, and we figured it had been adapted for Western palates.  However at this cheap and cheerful local spot, our expectations weren’t as high as they would ordinarily be, and for $14 we weren’t complaining.

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Our prawn, cashew and chilli jam stir fry was chock full of vegetables and cashews, and a generous serving of prawns. The flavours and textures were light, crunchy, and pleasing to the palate.

This little cafe turns out food that may not be for the Thai food purists, but the fresh ingredients and reasonable prices will have a faithful band of followers returning again and again. There are daily specials, and on Sundays you can pick up a Pad Thai for $12. Not much to complain about here.

As a bonus, you can pop a few metres down the road to the Old Laundry Bar for a decent coffee after your meal.  Seriously, what’s not to love about Angove St?

http://wrapnrice.com.au

Wrap N Rice Thai Cafe on Urbanspoon

Co-op Dining

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Not sure if I can do a 10 course degustation these days I thought to myself, but I was prepared to give it my best shot. Didn’t eat anything all day; kept the tummy empty so I could cram as much in as possible. The last time I attempted such a meal was at Guillaume’s in the Opera House in Sydney several years ago, and as magnifique as it was, I could barely breathe for three days afterwards.

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Fortunately as I soon discovered at Co-op Dining, the courses are small in size and are spread over a long period; in our case this was four hours. Co-op willingly accommodated a few adjustments to the menu, and swapped the pork and red meat options for me.  All the wait staff were brilliant – friendly, amenable, professional and it was obvious that they really wanted us to enjoy the occasion.  My first course was slow dried onion shells with different salts, herbs and fillings. Don’t ask me to name the salts and fillings – this is what comes of chatting away and drinking wine and forgetting to pay attention to detail! Such a simple idea, and tasty and inventive at the same time. There were cumin and smokey flavours, and I thought this was something you could easily try at home and experiment with.  The other seven at my table had a charcuterie board with bresaola and another in-house cured meat. I wasn’t paying much attention to the meat starter to be honest. I had dried onion shells to focus on!

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I may have blurred the order of some of the courses here, but the barramundi cheeks and skins were also in the entree category. The soft cheeks were lightly battered and fried, and served on a piece of crispy barramundi skin. You had to eat the skin in one go, as there was no way this chewy little sucker was going to be bitten in half.  Interesting idea, and served with the Co-op version of a rollmop.  See what I mean about the size of the courses?  Nice and small for the ladies who don’t want to stuff down 10 massive sized courses. One cheek and one rollmop each.  Perfect. The men were starting to get a bit antsy but that’s another story.

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Fish appeared again in the form of dried Esperance sardines. Crunchy, tasty and complete with heads, these were enjoyed by all but one of us (who is fish-head-averse).  They were served with a mild sauce and a salt which complimented the sardines well.  Co-op work at introducing different textures and tastes, and only use fresh, seasonal, local produce.

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Mild buttermilk curd with fruit and basil was next up, and its cool, mild flavours complimented the stronger taste of the dried, spiced chicken skins. Who would think to pair chicken skins with buttermilk curd? It was an offbeat but successful combination.

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Delicate crab meat starred next, nestled with sea-salty samphire spears in a rye-bread roll, topped with a creamy garam-spiced sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Most of us felt that the lovely Shark Bay crab meat was overtaken by the strong-flavoured rye bread. Perhaps something a bit more understated would have showcased the crab to better effect. The samphire was a novelty – who knew that this glorious green stuff grows wild on our northern coastline?

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When I conjure up images of fine dining, cornflakes and eggs don’t generally feature, so our next course came as some surprise.
On a bed of garlicky mashed potato sat a glistening egg yolk surrounded by….corn flakes. Well, certainly not Kelloggs, but the Co-op version of super-crunchy, savoury, hearty, house-made corn flakes. Yup. When polled about their favourite dishes of the evening, most people gave this dish the big thumbs up.

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Our next course featured lightly seared duck breast on a bed of sauerkraut spiced with caraway seeds, and accompanied by a salted plum sauce. Whilst the contrasting textures of the cabbage with the duck worked very well, most of us felt the mild flavour of the duck was overpowered by the strong flavours of vinegar and caraway.

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The men rejoiced when the next dish of hogget with coconut yoghurt and mild Indian spices was served. It was a generous slab of meat that seemed to fill the protein gap that the poor loves were suffering from. In lieu of the hogget, my course was a delicious potato and cauliflower version that was creamy, mildly spiced and sprinkled with crunchy fried garlic and onion slivers.

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A welcome palate cleanser appeared next in the form of ginger kombucha popsicles. The strong flavour of the ginger was quite different to the expected mild flavours of lemon or orange, but it worked a treat.

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Our first dessert course was a light-as-feather sponge served with poached apricot, some deliciously smooth yet slightly acidic cream, and orange rind that had been toasted and sweetened. You really will have to excuse my lack of detail here – after all these courses and three glasses of wine, my attention was waning. It had been a long, enjoyable evening but my motivation to record the minutiae seemed to evaporate at some point.  At least I remembered to take photos!

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And finally – drum roll please!! We all scream for ice-cream but who in their wildest imagination would have believed that ice-cream could taste so wonderful with baby carrots? But indeed it did as everyone in our group concurred. Sprinkled with liquorice dust and surrounded by pistachio crumbs, this exotic little creation was superbly finished off with ultra creamy ice-cream and little mounds of orangey apricoty sweetness. Oh my. Kudos to the chef for expanding our ways of thinking about what constitutes an amazing dessert.

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This 10 course degustation at the princely sum of $125 is not your standard weekly dining out experience. For an extra $75 you can enjoy wine pairing with your meal, or you can simply buy by the glass which is on average, around the $15 mark. This intimate restaurant ticks all the boxes for me; it is staffed by passionate chefs and wait people who are proud of the food and wine they serve. There’s no rushing you through your meal, no obnoxious noise levels, no problem with people who need or want to change menu items. There is innovation, excellence and professionalism. What a brilliant way to sample all the fine WA produce we have on our doorstep.

http://co-opdining.com.au

Co-Op Dining on Urbanspoon

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.

http://no4blakestreet.com.au

Next Door @ No4 on Urbanspoon

City Farm Cafe

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There’s a fairly relaxed vibe at City Farm Cafe. Surrounded by herb gardens, leafy trees and a smattering of sunflowers, you can’t help but feel some of the city stress melting away. My friend Egg and I like to meet for brunch at various venues around town, and we invariably discuss work. We’re both migration agents and like most of our kind, we love discussing work and finding solutions for difficult or complex cases. It’s endlessly interesting, and combining our discussions with a coffee and breakfast seems the perfect way to do things. Two heads are always better than one, especially in this industry.
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My long macchiato was the hearty caffeine dose I needed to get the brain cells into gear. When it came to choosing my meal, I went for my old favourite, scrambled eggs. I really do love scrambled eggs, but they seem a bit boring really when there are so many inventive morning dishes on offer these days. Nevertheless, this lot featured tasty matured cheddar and chives, so that won me over instantly.

Egg went for her staple food; smashed avocado on toast. Now Egg had arrived well before me, and had wolfed down her avo toast before I could say “good morning!” So sadly I don’t have a picture of that, but I don’t think you’re missing out on much. It’s not that adventurous as far as meals go. You can picture it – green mashed stuff on bread, toasted.

My scrambled eggs were silky, moist and really good.  The cheese and chives added some zoosh to what can be a bland dish, and the eggs were cooked to perfection. You can see them glistening in the pic below.

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Egg tasted them just to see if I was exaggerating about how good they were. I wasn’t and she concurred.

The cafe was quiet at 9.30 when I arrived, but by the time we left at 11.30 the place was rapidly filling up with an early lunch crowd from nearby offices.  The cafe is big enough to cater for working groups, and there were a few business meetings underway. The tables are well spread out too, so you don’t have to worry about the peeps at the next table listening in on your conversation.

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There is a range of home made cakes and slices available, so we settled on a lemon slice to share when our main course had long since disappeared. This was very lemony and gooey and just enough to satisfy our sweet tooths.

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City Farm Cafe serves a range of rolls, salads, quiches and pies for lunch and they looked very tempting in the display cabinet. There were stuffed mushrooms, savoury tarts and muffins being added to the cabinet throughout the time we were there, and they looked equally enticing. All of the food looked fresh and delicious.

A growers market operates at the City Farm premises on Saturday morning, so it would be an ideal time to combine some shopping with a bite to eat. This is a pleasant environment for a brunch or lunch, and I’ll certainly be back to try one of those yummy lunch dishes. And maybe another cake.

City Farm Cafe on Urbanspoon