The Bestie’s birthday weekend fortunately coincided with her parent’s return from their month-long holiday in Vietnam. Her parents live in southern Western Australian in a town called Esperance which is about a ten hour drive from Perth. This means she doesn’t get to see them as often as she would like and having them in Perth for her birthday was a bit of a treat. To make the most of the occasion, she agreed to stretch out her celebrations over two nights starting with her parents cooking up a storm for us at their friends’ house followed by a casual night out at the Karalee Tavern in Como.
During our time living in London, it was a common occurrence for the Bestie, the Boy and I to visit a number of run down English Pubs. Horrendous food and cheap drinks would be served well past the old fashioned pub curfew under the premise of a “lock out”. These were crazy times and there is a little part of each of us that wistfully longs for those hedonistic days gone by. I’m got the feeling that was part of the vibe she was going for by choosing The Karalee as especially since Chompchomp’s creation we have a tendency to go more popular or newly established venues. Despite the fact the windows at Karalee face out onto the Como foreshore, it was near impossible to see through the smudgy cloudy glass and even with a recent revamp of their décor I still felt trapped in the nineties.
To my complete surprise there were a number of gluten free options marked on their menu. Of course the Bestie had kindly thought ahead and made sure we were going somewhere where I could eat something. I started with the char-grilled calamari served with tomato kasundi, warmed chick peas salad with a lemon dressing. The kasundi had none of the spiciness I would expect in this Indian relish and the chickpeas had that flavourless powderiness I can only expect came from a can. The calamari was ever so slightly overcooked and chewy. Not a good start.
The Bestie ordered the grilled chilli and garlic tiger prawns. Four small shelled Tiger prawns sat perched on a few triangles of cold toasted Turkish bread. Although the prawns looked a little dry to me, I didn’t taste them so cannot pass a true judgement.
The Bestie and I both ordered the veal saltimbocca. The veal medallions tasted like overcooked cardboard and literally sucked all the moisture from out of my mouth. I’m sure it took me a good five minutes to chew each mouthful. I was thankful for the crunchy prosciutto topping to add some flavour into all that blandness. The thick creamy mushroom sauce did nothing to improve the meal nor did the unseasoned gritty block of set polenta that was meant to be crispy.
The Boy ordered the slow cooked lamb shank with sweet potato and maple syrup mash and roasted broccolini. The succulent lamb collapsed effortlessly off the bone and was accompanied by moans of approval and enjoyment. I often put a dash of maple syrup in my pumpkin and sweet potato mash when cooking at home. As long as you only put a dash it serves to provide a subtle lingering to the already dulcet flavours of the vegetables. Although the texture of this mash could have been creamier, they were cautious enough not to overdo it with the maple and its hint of flavour was balanced just right. The broccolini was burnt to a crisp which completely sabotaged any sense of its flavour other than charcoal.
The Bestie’s Mum ordered the roasted sticky glazed pork belly. It was curiously paired with a mound of potato mash and sesame tossed Asian greens. The pork was buttery smooth with crunchy crackling and she was left feeling very full and satisfied.
The meal sizes at Karalee are generous meaning this is a good place to come if you want value for money. If quality is more what you look for in a night out I suggest you look elsewhere.The Karalee on Preston 25 Preston Street Como WA 6152 | (08) 9367 1848 | www.thekaralee.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrée $12-16, Mains $23-38) Food: 2/5 (very average, poor execution and odd combinations of ingredients) Service: 3/5 (a little slow but friendly enough for a sports bar) Ambience: 2.5/5 (despite the potential views, ambiance is definitely lacking) Drinks: 2.5/5 (average wine list, nothing exciting) Total: 10/20