As high as a kite on French champagne and with Rochelle Adonis‘s exquisite high tea delicacies still swimming around on my palate, my friends and I skipped over the road from her studio to the Hotel Northbridge to extend our celebratory mood a little further into the afternoon. After leaving the bright and clean environment of Rochelle’s, the grimy stark reality of the empty pub was initially a little off putting but good company has a way of distracting your attention from these details and we soon sat to continue our chatter and giggling. Of course we wanted to continue drinking champagne and therefore we were all a tad disappointed to read the drinks menu only contained Australian bubbles. For an exorbitant $68 we got a bottle of Chandon Brut and ordered a tasting plate, salt and pepper squid, and fries.
The food arrived fairly quickly, but we were left totally confused as to how to ration four serviettes, three forks, four knives and one plate amongst the six of us. Odd. I would have also liked to have been informed when I placed my order for the food that the salt and pepper squid actually came on a bed of fries as we didn’t really need the second bowl. Needless to say one can see from the photo that the salt and pepper squid wasn’t really such. Deep fried battered squid would be a more appropriate description as the dusting was nearly thicker than the squid itself. The added touch of MasterFoods squeeze-on packets of sweet chilli, tartare and tomato sauces didn’t raise the appeal much either. If you want to charge me $17.50 for such a dish then you had better make an effort on presentation or at least increase the size of your serves to make it good value – this dish had only twelve small pieces of calamari!
Moving onto the tasting plate we were preparing ourselves for the worst. Seriously, what were we thinking coming from High tea to this? If only Rochelle let us have another course! The tasting plate contained a paltry four thin strips of Turkish bread, some tasteless cubes of fetta, two small bowls of watery inedible dips, a handful of jarred olives, a pile of chorizo, about one teaspoon of very scary looking sun-dried tomatoes and some olive oil. The chorizo was the low- light and no one could eat it. It had an unusual taste that wasn’t pleasant.
Disappointed with such poor quality food, a rebellious streak started to emerge from our little group. By this time our over-priced bottle of average sparkling was well and truly empty so we decided it would be a fabulous decision to sneakily pop open our remaining bottle of Cattier from high tea. Anyone tried to open champagne sneakily? After a delayed and unsuccessful attempt at smothering that wonderful popping sound with laughter and coughing, the bartender scurried over to inform us we cannot drink our own bottle. We offered to pay corkage but she wasn’t willing to bend the rules. Fair enough. One of my girlfriends surprisingly managed to squeeze the cork back into the bottle, only for it to pop out later at an impromptu time during our drive home whilst traveling on the back seat. Needless to say the car still smells like celebrations!
Service 5/10 venue 4/10 food 3/10Fuse Bar @ Hotel Northbridge Cnr Brisbane and Lake St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9328 5254 | www.hotelnorthbridge.com.au/bar.php
For months I have been bursting out of my skin to get myself to Rochelle Adonis for her acclaimed high tea! So when my love and I attended a boutique little wedding expo at Mosmans recently I was attracted to her stall like a moth to a flame. Her passion and gentle nature increased her appeal to me even more and I immediately decided I wanted to have one of her exquisite cakes for our upcoming engagement party. This provided me with the perfect excuse to organise a girly afternoon out with some friends for the purpose of “engagement cake tasting”.
For us foodies in the know, we are all very thankful to have such a world class pastry chef of this calibre residing here in little Perth. Rochelle grew up in the French Canadian city of Montreal before moving to Sydney to train as a pastry chef. She then moved to London where she worked in an exclusive wedding cake boutique making cakes for the rich and famous including both the British and Saudi Royal families before she moved onto to Vienna to work in the prestigious Hotel Sacher.
Returning to Australia, she was acting head pastry chef at Forty One in Sydney before joining Matt Moran’s at Moran’s and then once he opened Aria as the head pastry chef there. She moved to WA in 2001 with the ambition of starting her own business and has grown from a small scale home kitchen beginning to the highly acclaimed boutique she has today.
Upon entering her studio, you will be distracted by all the eye catching photos decorating the walls with examples of her handy work. Each cake is prepared with upmost attention and care and they almost look like they couldn’t be real. The two long communal marble tables fill much of the room giving the feeling you are sitting in someone’s kitchen rather than a café. We all came very prepared with enough champagne to sink a ship and with high expectations to have our tastebuds buzzing. We most certainly were not disappointed. Our only complaint was it all ended way too soon! We could have easily done with another few courses!
We all came very prepared with enough champagne to sink a ship and with high expectations to have our tastebuds buzzing. We most certainly were not disappointed. Our only complaint was it all ended way too soon! We could have easily done with another few courses!
The first course was savoury. After my recent enforced gluten indulgences, I thought it best that I stick with her gluten free options – I was after all actually taste testing for a party that will occur once I’m back on the straight and narrow gluten free. My plate contained a cup of creamed corn soup, a vegetable frittata, a cube of pork terrine and a falafel with some harissa. The soup was hot and seasoned perfectly warming us all up as we waited for our champagne to take over the job. The pork terrine had a dollop of horseradish and Dijon mayonnaise. The short sharp heat of the horseradish blended harmoniously with the lingering flavours of the terrine and was the highlight of the four.
The girls also had the pork terrine and the soup on their plates. Their gluten-filled options included a vegetable galette with goat’s cheese and Rochelle’s famous cucumber sandwiches using entirely homemade ingredients including her own handmade butter. The sandwiches looked so cute all cut up in perfect little rectangles sitting in a row.
Our second course was desert. My plate contained mint ice cream with Valrhona chocolate, raspberry jelly, meringue with lemon curd, blueberries and violet, and a blood orange salad on top of a moist butter cake with gooey brulee style custard. The ice cream was not overly sweet or sickly, nor was it too creamy. It had the perfect balance with a fresh minty aftertaste leaving a clean fresh feeling on the palate. My first glancing impressions of the raspberry jelly reminded me of Turkish Delight. Not being the biggest fan of this I was pleased to find an absence of Turkish’s signature delicate rose flavours replaced with a much preferred and rather strong tarty berriness. For those who know Chompchomp well – you will be aware I am a huge fan of all things berry. Well, berries generally come shaped in little balls – and I’m a sucker for food in little balls. The meringue was one of my favourites. It contained all the elements of a well-made meringue: crunchy, chewy and soft, and the accompaniment of sharp tangy lemon curd moved seamlessly into the gentle after notes of the more subtle violet and blueberries.
The blood orange salad tasted like Rochelle had successful managed to capture Spring in a cup! Seeing as our one week teaser of Spring weather has turned viciously back to wet winter windiness I was so thankful to be reminded glorious Perth Spring was just around the corner. Buried deep below the array of sweet blood orange and delicate petals was a layer of brulee and dense orange butter cake. I nearly stuck my fingers into the bottom of the bowl to clean out the last remnants.
By this point we had polished off a bottle of Moet, a bottle of Cattier and a bottle of G.H. Mumm champagne and we were all in very fine form. We really didn’t want our experience to end and thus were determined to carry on with our celebrations. After pondering for some time at the counter, a number of us bought more little cakes, nougat and other delights to take home to share with our loved ones who missed out on the delightful experience. We then all skipped over the road to the Hotel Northbridge to continue our festivities. Oh boy what a contrast in standards of customer service, ambiance and food would we find there!
Venue 8/10 Food 9.2/10 Service 7.7/10Rochelle Adonis 193 Brisbane St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9227 0007
As I dragged myself out of my warm cosy bed at 6am on my day off I thought about the long drive ahead of me in the pouring rain for a partners meeting and wondered if I was a little too dedicated to my business. We normally go to the Dome café in Midland of which I am not the biggest fan after numerous past disappointments. After such as lovely experience at Jezebelle in Guildford I suggested we try a change in scenery and go to The Lounge Room which is just a short way down James Street.
Despite a table booked for 7 am and the fact they open at 7am we were left waiting outside the front of the cafe in the cold morning weather. You would think that they could have made the effort to be ready with open doors to greet customers when they had tables pre-booked? We were to soon find out this was just the first in many incidents caused by a lack of preparation and attention to customer service.
Upon gazing at the chalkboard menu one could not help but be distracted by the multiple pieces of paper stuck onto several of menu items that were not available. This looked quite untidy and I would recommend getting a proper chalkboard and handwriting items if things regularly go out of stock. Perhaps maybe doing this in addition to ensuring you have adequate stock to start a new week are just like opening on time…. too much effort for a Monday morning to bother with?
I ordered the breakfast Panini without onion. I was then informed this would not be possible as the Panini were already made up – I wondered if it was really too difficult to make a fresh one? They certainly weren’t that busy. Instead I ordered scrambled eggs on toast with mushroom and tomato… unfortunately I was then informed there were no mushrooms left. Really? First thing on a Monday morning and you have no mushroom to go with your breakfast menu? I thought I would take a gamble and ask for avocado instead – nope, none of that available either! I reluctantly opted for bacon as my second addition.
I also ordered a short macchiato. I should have thought to describe what a short mac is before ordering as the ratio of milk to coffee was way too high for me. The meal itself reminded me of food you would get from a “diner” style restaurant, not a cafe marketing itself as upmarket. I got one piece of toast, a pile of unseasoned flavourless scrambled eggs, some pale tepid tomatoes and some bacon. Not a lot of value for the price which was a pricey $20!
It was certainly edible but not much more than that. We continued our meeting while our empty plates remained on our tables as the wait staff pretended that neither us nor our empty plates were even there. Not once did we get asked if we would like more coffees, desserts or anything of the like. Surprising as we stayed for another two hours while they ignored us and lost the business opportunity our seats should have been providing. Oh well, they won’t have to worry about that happening again!
Service 2/10, food 4/10, venue 5/10
The Lounge Room
187 James Street, Guildford, 6055 | (08) 9379 3791
I decided to buy a Scoopon to Old Cathay Restaurant to give to my beloved as a small token gift to further lengthen our post-engagement celebrations. I’m currently on Doctors orders to punish my body with six weeks of gluten hell in order to determine for once and for all whether I am actually coeliac or just have fructose malabsorption. I am still trying to continue to convince myself that this is a time to embrace this character building experience as an opportunity to have total freedom in ordering whatever I like and just grit and bear the consequences.
Chinese food is not one that can be gluten/onion free very easily so it was exciting to order the tasty dishes we wanted instead of the select few adjustable ones. Old Cathay has a warm and inviting interior and was full of customers on a Thursday night. The staffs were very welcoming despite us being Scoopon customers (something not all restaurants do!). Upon being seated we were quickly informed our Cathay tasting plate was being prepared and our bottle of wine was brought to the table. We had choice of white or red – we chose the white (Rothbury Estate SSB). We requested to order an additional entree to the coupon offer which was no problem.
The platter contained 2 Golden Vegetarian Spring Rolls, two Prawn Twisters, one bowl of Chicken Kerabu Salad and two Crunchy Prawn Kataifi. The spring rolls were fresh and hot. The two prawn dishes were both fried and looked like heart attack central. I’m not the hugest fan of deep fried food; however these were actually very crispy and light and didn’t leave my mouth feeling full of oil. In addition to the platter we ordered the boy’s favourite: Soft shelled crab. This was not the tastiest soft shelled crab I’ve had – it felt like it was missing a dipping sauce? Nevertheless it also was crispy and not soggy at all.
For mains our Scoopon included two mains so we ordered the Old Cathay Gui Fei Tofu and the Kung Po Squid. Being food obsessed, we always both tend to want to order more food than is humanly possible to eat so we ordered an extra main of the sweet and sour pork. I’m not usually a big tofu fan, I don’t hate it, but I never think to order it. But Old Cathay tofu is something not to be missed. They make their own tofu and it was wonderfully soft as silk in my mouth. It was accompanied with shredded chicken, mushroom & carrots. The Kung Po squid was stir fried with dried whole chillies and cashew nuts. The sauce with this dish was scrumptious. Unfortunately this dish was a little lukewarm and ideally should have been served at a hotter temperature. The sweet and sour pork had decent sized pieces of meat with a light batter cover that maintained its crispiness and hadn’t gone soggy in the sauce – fresh! The sauce was tangy and gingery and not overpoweringly sweet. A winner for sure.
To end our overindulgent evening, our coupon included a desert each. I was so excited to see red bean pancake on the menu – a Chinese delight I have been deprived of for many years! Imagine my disappointment when they told me there wasn’t any left! Boo! Instead we ordered the Taro Ice Cream and the Sago Gula Melaka served with Ice Cream. These were fairly standard dishes although I like the extra touch of shaved crispy coconut pieces on the top.
I am already planning our return before my gluten clock runs out – to be continued……
Venue 8/10 Service 8/10 Food 7.8/10Old Cathay | 59 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park 6100 | (08) 9361 1881 | www.oldcathay.com.au
We dined here with my business partners last night and had a fabulous evening. The staff were all very enthusiastic and cheerful without being overbearing, and assisted us to select some of their delicious tapas style dishes. Unfortunately for me, my doctor’s orders are to subject me to the unpleasantness of a gluten challenge prior to coeliac testing. I tend to be a glass half full type so I have embraced this harrowing experience as a way to enjoy what I used to miss out on. This led us to sample “two of each” of the breads on the menu. There was a toasted ciabatta with truffle mascarpone, the ciabatta was light and crunchy and had a lovely buttery after taste. The house flat bread provided a contrasting texture and was heavy and tangy like sourdough. It came with marinated olives.
For our first “round” we tried the Jamon, the sweet potato skordolia and the duck. The jamon was delicately sliced and quite sweet to taste. It was accompanied by buffalo mozzarella, slow-roasted tomato and a drizzling of basil oil. The sweet potato skordolia didn’t look like much but was very flavoursome and the sweetness complimented the jamon. It was accompanied by char-grilled broccolini, pine nuts and goat’s cheese. The duck was the least favourite of this course; it was a little dry and lacked the strong flavours of the other dishes.
For our second course we had the Khatta-style pork ribs, the scallops, and the lamb. The pork ribs were to die for and came with some kombu pickle. They were cooked perfectly, and contained mainly meat not fat. One of the highlights of the night. The Seared scallops with jamón crumb served with potato crisps were tender and juicy however the scallops had some variability with size meaning some guests got tiny scallops. Despite this, this dish was also one of my favs. The Sumac lamb with pomegranate came with baba ganoush on the side. The lamb was seasoned well but slightly overcooked.
To accommodate for the vegetarians at the table we also ordered the Balsamic beetroot with char-grilled asparagus, the crispy polenta and the potatas bravas. I didn’t try the beetroot but others commented it was a great dish. The Crispy polenta with Gorgonzola cream, hazelnuts and portobellos was really tasty. I could have ordered more of it. The Potatas bravas weren’t the best I’ve had – they lacked the crispiness that highlights this dish.
For desserts we continued in the vein of the bread ordering and ordered “two of each”! The White-chocolate mousse with lemon custard and shortbread was the perfect texture and not too sickly sweet. Being used to the restrictions of a GF diet for years, I felt very naughty indulging in the Cinnamon ricotta doughnuts but loved every moment! I didn’t get to try the Balsamic strawberry cheesecake as it was demolished by others quickly – I’m guessing this is a good sign. The least enjoyable two dishes were the Melting chocolate fondant and the Persian orange macadamia cake.
The fondant was mean to be filled with oozing chocolate goo but when we cut into it, it was dry. The waiter promptly noticed this and said he would remove it off the bill. The Persian orange cake was dry and had minimal zest to it – I definitely think the recipe needs a revise as it is the only GF option on the dessert menu.
The cheese platter was a perfect comination of soft French Brillat Savarin, hard sheep’s Pecorino Romano and a Gorgonzola. I wish I had more room to fit these in!
All in all it was a wonderful experience, great food, awesome service – and we all look forward to returning!
Food 8.1/10, service 8.5/10, venue 8/10
For more photos check out my Flickr account
127 james street
To assist the chef in planning for my meal alterations and adjustments, I always try to ensure to inform the kitchen of my allergy requirements in advance when I book the table. Unfortunately despite giving the restaurant 3 days’ notice about this, when I was trying to order my entrees I was informed by the wait staff that all the sauces in all the dishes contained onions. Despite our lovely waiter Sebastian going out of his way to help me, going back and forth from the kitchen with options, the response from the chef was a resounding “no” for even the slightest alteration. Not even melting some garlic butter was possible. Maybe I’ve been spoilt recently eating out – but this reinforces to me how I appreciate a good chef is one that can accommodate and adjust dishes rather than churn out the standard meals.
I also question whether the reason the meals cannot be altered because they are already pre-prepared? So despite all the entrees looking delectable, the only dish I was able to have was the Asparagus, cherry tomato and radicchio salad with Ravigote dressing. This was a small portion, dressed nicely but not satisfying when you look at the rest of our table’s meals!
Others ordered the Escargot a ma façon (Snails cooked my way), Pan fried duck liver with pea puree and Scallop and truffle filo torte with fennel salad and balsamic dressing. Thankfully the rest of the meals were able to be ordered without a hitch.
For mains I had the Tournedo Rossini: WA Beef tenderloin, foie gras, mushroom duxelle, served on mashed potato (without the jus). The cut of meat was of reasonable quality and cooked correctly. I did however notice that my portion of foie gras was twice as generous when compared my non-allergic partner’s so perhaps this was the chef’s way of making it up to us!
Another ordered the Margaret River Wagyu Beef Rump served with mash potato and green peppercorn sauce. The Wagyu was soft and delicate as it should be although cooked slightly under the request of rare. Another ordered the Pork trotter stuffed with chicken and wild mushroom, mash potato and a Shiraz jus. For desserts we shared the Ile Flottante and again we were given a larger serve – we asked for one to share and they brought us out two and said it was an extra sized single portion. We were only charged for one. Once again a big thumbs up to the wait staff who really tried to make it up to us for the problem with the entrees. Overall it was an enjoyable night and we all walked away with satisfied full bellies.
Service 9/10 Food 7.5/10 Venue 7/10P’tite Ardoise Bistro
283 Beaufort St, Highgate, 6003 | (08) 9228 2008
In continuation of my previous review I would like to let my readers know that the chef has contacted me regarding our meal last night. We accidently left one of our bottles of wine at the restaurant and he wanted to let me know so that I could return to collect it. He also apologised that our dining experience was not up to scratch and extended an invitation for a repeat visit with advance notice of my menu choices so he could be better prepared with appropriate stocks and sauces. He mentioned he did not know of my dietary requests until the day and therefore did not have time to discuss with me prior. I have to say in receiving the call; I was very impressed to see such passion and dedication to customer service and a true effort to redeem a reputation. I shall most definitely be returning …. watch this space….
With only one hours’ notice to the kitchen for my no wheat/no onion requirements I was delighted to be greeted by our waitress as we were sat down at our table with an amended menu with suitable options and accompanying alterations. This attention to detail was seen throughout the night with attentive and friendly customer service.
Blackbird is a cosy little restaurant oozing charm and character and the atmosphere was perfect for us to both unwind after a long week over some delicious food. I started with the Special of the Day, a portion of smoked salmon served on a bed of fennel with cumquats and lime. This dish was very light and refreshing to the palate – quite uplifting. The boy had the confit of duck and pistachio terrine. The confit was flavoursome and not dry and balanced well by the more gentle flavours of the terrine.
For main we both had the seared line caught ocean trout with quail eggs – mine accompanied by mash and his accompanied by a risotto cake. The trout was cooked perfectly; it flaked apart under my fork and melted in my mouth like butter. Definitely the highlight of the evening. We progressed onto the cheeses – quite a generous serve which we both struggled to finish. A good selection of Roquefort, hard Dutch goat’s cheese and my favourite of the three La buche d’affinois. There were no GF accompaniments for the platter but this did not matter as I came prepared with some GF crackers in my bag (I had already perused the cheese menu prior to arrival!)
We ended the night with a pannecotta to share. This was the least enjoyable dish as it collapsed into a puddle of puree minutes after serving. It tasted like very sweet fruit puree – not entirely inedible, but certainly not what we felt like. Without either of us saying anything to the waitress, upon seeing our dish she apologised and told us she would take it off the bill for us as it was not acceptable. Like I said – their service was very attentive.
Service 9/10 Food 8.5/10 Venue 8/10Blackbird Restaurant Suite 4, 10 Eastbrook Terrace, East Perth, 6004 | (08) 9225 7880 | www.blackbirdrestaurant.com.au
Living in the Vic Park/South Perth area we are spoilt for choice for dining locations, but sometimes you just want to relax at the pub. Being a little weary of our regular locals as a result of some recent poor customer service and lack of attention to detail, we decided to venture out of our usual stompin’ ground for a short distance over to West Perth to The Brown Fox.
We both had a pretty hectic week at work and were really craving some time to switch off and relax. The venue was great for stimulating conversation on this cold wintery night, and with the cosy dim light atmosphere it brought back memories of our London life. The service was excellent, with our waiter going to great lengths to ensure my food was allergy free and he ensured our glasses were never left empty for long. Even all the bar staff were full of smiles.
We ordered some frites, olives and almonds, and the goats cheese salad for starters. The frites were crispy and really good although the aioli wasn’t the best I’ve had. I would go back just for the frites! The almonds were seasoned and very moreish, and the olives had a variety of types to suit different tastes.
For main we both had the beef fillet – the meat cut was reasonable quality and was cooked perfectly. It was served with Paris mash which I felt was a little bland and needed seasoning.
Venue 8.5/10 service 8.5/10 food 7.5/10
PS Sorry about the horrendous quality photos – I forgot my camera and had to rely on my iPhone!The Brown Fox 72 Outram St, West Perth,6005 | (08) 9425 5222 | www.thebrownfox.com.au
As a surprise birthday present for the boy I organised for us a relaxing two nights stay at The Richardson with their Autumn Escape package which included degustation for two in their restaurant Opus. The rooms were well appointed, they were certainly not as new and fancy as some other five star locations we have stayed at however we didn’t seem notice or care as their customer service was beyond impeccable. The minibar was very well stocked and quite fairly priced. Even the freezer was filled full of food for purchase. The Nespresso machine was a great hit with me and thankfully the room came with free selection of pods to use! We stayed in one of their deluxe rooms and despite not getting the room upgrade to one of the suites that I was wishing for, there was an adequately equipped kitchen for the stay complete with microwave oven, plates, cutlery – all the things that are often quite annoying left out of rooms and only put into the suites. Our room had glimpses of Kings Park and overlooked leafy Richardson St. Overall the hotel experience was highlighted by unfaultable excellence in customer service – something that can be a little uncommon in Perth.
The restaurant Opus replicated the hotel’s high standard of customer service and once again we were very impressed with the level of personal attention from all the staff. I emailed the restaurant in advance to notify them of my food intolerances and despite the fact restaurant was full to capacity, the head chef made an effort to come out and speak with me personally to ensure my dining experience was enjoyable. The restaurant itself has a very cosy and romantic atmosphere which was accentuated by the storm brewing outside.
The first dish was a terrine of tomatoes, with morels and a goat’s milk pudding. This dish was surprisingly one of the best of the night, the sharp acidic tomato flavours blending with the creamy tang of the sweet goat’s milk pudding was a taste sensation.
The second dish was a roast butternut pumpkin soup with lemongrass and crab. The heartiness of the thick pumpkin with a delicate background of lemongrass complimented the crab wonderfully. The first main was my least favourite dish of the night – it was a pan-fried fillet of rainbow trout served with wilted baby cos, peas and mint. Although the fish was cooked perfectly, it was very heavily seasoned and the saltiness took away from the subtle flavour of the trout. The wilted cos lacked the imagination and presentation shown in the previous dishes. Some orange and Campari sorbet was served prior to the second main it was nothing special but cleansed the palate nicely.
The second main dish was beef tenderloin served with sweetbreads. Now I actually had no idea what sweetbreads were up until this night. To calm my initial fears of all things gluten, my love tried to suggest to me that sweet breads are actually just offal and not some potential gluten containing carbohydrate! I simply couldn’t believe him as they certainly didn’t look like any kidney or liver I have ate in the past. Thank goodness for Google and iPhones! He set the record straight quickly to clarify that we were actually eating pancreas. They were very tasty. The cut of beef was of high quality and melted in the mouth like a fillet should. We both really enjoyed this dish.
Finally the night ended with Bitter Chocolate Cream and Vanilla Marshmallows with Raspberry Gel and Liquorice. Unfortunately for me this dish was unable to be served gluten free as there was a very thin sponge base on the bottom so I just scooped off the top layer and left the rest for the boy. It was wonderfully rich and not too sweet – I wished I could have had more! Despite being at the full end of a dego the boy managed to polish off both our serves so I’m presuming it was delicious! The birthday candle on his dessert was a thoughtful touch. We are already wishing when we can stay at the Richardson and eat at Opus again!
Opus at The Richardson | 32 Richardson Street, Perth ,6005 | (08) 9217 8888 | www.opusrestaurant.com.au