Geographical separation has never had any impact on the bond I have with my best friend, Kate. Through the course of our fifteen years of Bestie-hood we have only lived in the same city for about half this time. We are not that good at regularly calling each other on the phone, in fact we are both shockers, yet within seconds of hearing each other’s voice we immediately lapse into our crazy way of talking that no one else on this Earth can ever seem to replicate. It’s actually like our own language. We have a way of bringing out the best in each other and I know that if anyone can turn my frown upside-down it will most definitely be Kate.
Twelve months ago Kate returned to her home-town of Esperance to complete her yoga teacher training with the aim to open her own yoga studio specialising in kid’s yoga. I envisaged this to be a slow process and was so surprised and excited to hear that less than a year after she moved away her studio was ready to be opened. I am so proud of her determination to make this long-term dream a reality and upon hearing the brilliant news I promptly booked some last minute flights to zip down and spend the weekend with her.
We booked accommodation at the Esperance Island View apartments which is located on the Esplanade and is only a short walk to the shops and restaurants. Our two bedroom apartment had two storeys with a large kitchen and living area, and most importantly excellent heating. This is something I have learnt to appreciate after our recent stay in Pemberton for Truffle Kerfuffle at an unnamed chalet location that had no heating other than a pot belly stove!
For our first night together we walked down to the Pier Hotel, a massive pub with separate bistro and bar areas, a cocktail lounge and the only night club in town. We sat down in the toasty bistro area by the open fire and made ourselves quite cosy.
The bistro menu has gluten free items clearly marked on the menu and most of the salad bar was also gluten free. Our waitress was kind enough to double check everything for me which was a thoughtful gesture. We each started off with a serve of drunken oysters. Served three ways, the oysters were surprisingly fresh and salty.
My favourite oyster of the three was the tequila shot which was served with a generous splash of tomato juice. The Jack Daniels Kilpatrick oyster was everyone’s least favourite. I found the bacon to be dry and flavourless with a barely discernible taste of bourbon. Not such a bad thing as I don’t particularly like bourbon.
My choice for main course was the Thai style barramundi, a grilled barra fillet cooked in curry sauce with basil, chilli and coconut cream. It is normally served with a pistachio and capsicum couscous but the gluten free option offers chips or mash as a replacement. Whilst it was quite an unsightly dish, the fish was cooked beautifully and the curry sauce was not overpowering. It would have been better paired with some steamed rice instead of mash.
With a day and a half to explore, we saw only a brief snippet of Esperance and its surrounds yet what I did see left me blown away by this remote town’s rugged beauty. Imagine long stretches of beaches with the whitest sand in Australia where the water is so vividly blue it almost doesn’t look real. It was breathtaking. One of the most special moments we shared was seeing a mother whale and her calf in the bay at Hellfire beach. Every time a tail fin would gracefully plunge out of the water both of us couldn’t hold back emitting loud sighs of amazement. I regretted not bringing my zoom lens with me!
Being in the middle of winter, Esperance’s weather can be unpredictable and can turn from clear blue skies to thundering storms quicker than I expected. After walking the Rotary Lookout circuit walk on Wireless Hill, we stopped to catch our breath in a little gazebo and watched a storm coming in over the coast for just long enough to avoid getting wet. Once the rain hit, we journeyed back into town for an afternoon snack at Taylors Beach café before popping into see her parents.
Taylors Beach café is situated overlooking the Bay of Isles and has been a local icon for many years. They have live music on Sunday afternoons and are open seven days. We only wanted a light snack to go with our drinks as we were heading out for dinner later that evening.
We started off with some French bubbles which is something of a tradition for the two of us. We have been known to spend ridiculous amounts of money that we don’t really have on bottles of exquisite French champagne so I figured we needed to keep on with our tradition to some degree; even if Grandin isn’t strictly Champagne it is French! 😉
Taylors have a small bites menu however unfortunately I was sternly informed that there was only one dish that could be served gluten free; the grilled scallops. There were six scallops served in the shell lightly grilled and seasoned with garlic and olive oil.
I made the error of eating some of the garnish in the middle of the dish which left a mouldy flavour in my mouth, ruining any further enjoyment of the scallops. The Boy and Kate took heed and avoided eating any greens meaning their scallop experience was much more enjoyable.
Fuelled with the warmth of a round of drinks, we visited her parents for a brief lesson on clipping cat’s claws. Betty Lois and Doris are ex-farm cats who are affectionately known collectively as The Girls. They were on their best behaviour which made for short work of my vet consult allowing us to celebrate with another round of drinks before heading out on the town to the Loose Goose for dinner.
The Loose Goose is one of the fine dining options in town and offers set dinner prices of $45.50 for one course, $57.50 for two courses and $67.50 for three courses. This price includes complimentary herb or garlic bread and a side salad or vegetables with the main meals. They did not have any gluten free bread on offer.
In our usual celebratory mode, we all chose to enjoy three courses. It is not often that we get to dine out together and the logical approach was to make the most of it. The Boy’s starter was a thick slab of Camembert cheese wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden brown. A rather inelegant blob of mild chilli plum sauce accompanied the cheese adding a touch of fruity sweetness. This wasn’t a type of dish I ever expected him to order, in fact I cannot recall the last time I saw him order ANYTHING in puff pastry. However if his moans of delight were anything to go by, I can see he will likely order this again given the chance!
Kate ordered the sweet potato salad served warm with marinated mushrooms, French cream cheese, cherry tomatoes and julienned snow peas. It was a vegetarian’s feast and I couldn’t help myself from reaching across and nabbing a slice of soft creamy sweet potato.
I ordered the half dozen fresh natural oysters which I was hoping were obtained locally from WA but unfortunately I was told they were imported from South Australia. Regardless of the greater distance they travelled to reach my plate each oyster gave me a mouthful of fresh seawater without any unpleasant fishy after-taste.
The Boy was on a roll with this pastry fetish as his main course was also wrapped in puff pastry. His dish was titled “real barramundi” and consisted of a thick fillet of barramundi cooked with prawns and garlic butter and then wrapped in pastry.
His fish came with a potato gallete and more lashings of creamy garlic sauce. No vampires came near us that night!
Kate wasn’t too impressed with the main dish choices as she is not really much of a meat eater so she requested for the chilli squid entrée to be served as a main size. Our waitress was more than happy to oblige. Her chilli squid was served in a Greek style cooked with tomato, capsicum and a hint of chilli. It was topped with some crumbled feta and black olives. She paired it with brilliant emerald green choc-mint cocktail made with Crème de Cacao, Crème de Menthe and Midori. We downed a few of those together that night!
I ordered the special of the day; the King Snapper Tom Yum. Having travelled a reasonable amount in Thailand, this clear, sweet and sour soup is one of my Thai favourites and I was counting on flashbacks of our time in the tropical sunshine. I certainly wasn’t expecting the dish I received which was more like a red fish curry than a Tom Yum. The sauce was a more modern interpretation made using coconut cream and was served with rice, like a curry. After my initial surprise, I actually didn’t mind it at all. For a curry, it was richly flavoured with all the layering of tastes that a well-made Thai dish should have. The fish was softly cooked and flaked apart gracefully and I was close to licking the bowl clean by the end.
As we arrived at dessert time, I was grateful for having a second stomach as I was totally stuffed. Whenever the three of us are out together, Kate and I will often try and guess what the Boy will order. He will then try to meet our suggestions with an air of total mystery and nonchalance. We are renowned for usually getting it right and simultaneously chanted that he would choose the Death by Chocolate. After a few minutes of playing coy and pretending we were completely wrong our waitress came up to take our order and lo and behold; he orders the Death by Chocolate. It was a rich doorstop-sized block of chocolate cake served warm and drizzled with oozing chocolicious ganache.
Both of us girls ordered the dessert special; the Loose Goose chocolate pot. Despite asking for gluten free, mine was initially served with some chocolate biscuit crumbled on top. Thankfully the Boy pointed this out to me before I had finished taking my photos and I avoided getting gluten poisoning.
Our waitress was extremely apologetic and promptly swapped it over for me. The chocolate pot was a huge serve of which neither of us needed to finish it all. Of course we both did polish off the lot which made our dancing attempts later on at the Pier nightclub not exactly easy!
The following morning we gathered ourselves together for a refreshing coastal walk. There is a walking track along most of the town’s coastline with gentle undulating hills and some of the most breathtaking views of the beaches. If I hadn’t binged so much the night before it would have made a fabulous running track to burn off those excess calories.
Sadly our weekend had nearly drawn to an end so before we headed back to the airport, Kate took us for a drive to Monjingup Lake Nature Reserve. She is a master at pleasing everyone and given I had already had a fulfilling foodie weekend, she wanted to take us somewhere that she knew the Boy would love.
The reserve has a well maintained boardwalk which takes you right out onto the lake giving gorgeous views of the reflections of the trees on the water.
There was an abundance of bird life that the Boy spotted with great ease; wildlife watching is something of a talent of his and he takes great pleasure in being the first to spot any signs of life. Once again I regretted not travelling with the appropriate camera lens!
While the Boy wandered off ahead in search of birds and frogs, my Bestie and I took our time to treasure our last hour together.
Whilst it had been a whirlwind trip this is something the two of us have grown accustomed to over the years. Previously we would both end up being shattered by the end of our rushed catch up due to our desperate attempts at making the most of our time by indulging in all the excesses.
Nearly decades later, our best-friendship has reached a point where we know we have each other for support no matter where we live and what we are doing. Our times together are becoming much more cherished and the influence of her yoga practice on living a healthy life is having a positive impact on both of us. It is a beautiful point in our lives to be.
Despite being all “zen” about my best friend living so far away, as I watched her leave us at the Esperance airport, I shed more than just a few tears. 😥To the bestest bestie; we had such a fabulous weekend with you in your hometown of Esperance. Let’s hope the time until we meet again is short. Whaa-toot!
Chompchomp travelled to Esperance on her own budget purely just to be with her bestie. She is confident that no one in town knew of her blog’s existence and was happy to be completely incognito. Pier Hotel The Esplanade, Esperance Western Australia 6450 | (08) 9071 1777 | www.pierhotelesperance.net.au www.taylorsbeachcafe.com.au loosegooseesperance.com.au
Enjoying gluten free Italian cuisine in a restaurant is a rare luxury for me. Whilst it is easy to make gluten free pasta dishes at home, the number of Italian restaurants that can accommodate us are few and far between. Nearly three years ago, my gastroenterologist insisted I return to eating gluten for nearly seven torturous weeks in order to take the necessary biopsies for Coeliac disease testing. It was a hard slog with every day becoming an effort as the “poison” of gluten decayed my health.
In a pathetic attempt at maintaining a glass half full attitude, I decided to make the most of this time and eat all the gluteny foods that I had been missing for years. I consumed copious amounts of pasta, croissants, donuts and real bread for the duration of my gluten challenge. The fine dining Italian restaurant Modo Mio had only just opened at the Crown and so off I headed with the Boy to eat fresh pasta and bread while I still could. Just a side note, for those who choose to click on the link and read this old post of mine; please be warned! It is one of my very first posts I published back when I was on the steepest part of this blogging learning curve. I find it somewhat cringeworthy to read but remind myself that everyone has to start somewhere.
Years later I was approached by Crown Perth to return to Modo Mio for a subsidised return visit. I was interested to see how this fine dining establishment could handle a gluten free customer such as myself and so I gratefully accepted the invitation.
It had been a mad working weekend filled with emergencies and drama so the thought of sitting in an ambient restaurant with my favourite person sounded like the perfect recipe to unwind. We were warmly greeted and shown to our table which oddly happened to be exactly the same table we sat at back in October 2011. A weird coincidence indeed!
Our waitress for the evening came over to introduce herself and answer any questions regarding the menu. She knew all the dishes in depth and proceeded to talk me through each one advising what was gluten free or how they could be adapted. I was pleasantly surprised that despite being a cuisine I thought wasn’t very gluten free friendly I had an abundance of options. There was even gluten free bread AND pasta available.
We started with the trio of salmon entree. I could immediately see Modo Mio have lifted their game since they opened a few years ago. Our dish was beautifully presented with each component as fresh as the next. In the centre of the plate was a mound of soft salmon tartare tossed with citrus, cucumber and sour cream. Each mouthful disappeared in a second with subtle salty flavours accentuated by the occasional burst of a salmon roe egg.
At the far end of the dish sat two silky smooth rolls of salmon perched on cucumber discs and filled with sour cream. One was topped with fresh dill and the other with crunchy poppy seeds. The Boy knows how much I love the sensation of poppy seeds splitting between my teeth and so he allowed me take that one as he reached for the other.
The final component of the salmon trio was not the easiest portion to share. A hard-boiled egg was filled with more of the satiny smoked salmon and topped with a decadent spoonful of Oscietra caviar. We carefully halved the portion to ensure we each got an equal amount of the decadent topping. Not a bad mouthful of luxury for the price!
We had specifically planned to share just one entrée so we could also have a plate of pasta before we hit main course. I mean, how can I NOT order pasta when she offered me a gluten free version? Our waitress had recommended that the best dish on the menu to have with the gluten free penne was the “spaghetti ai fruitti di mare” or, seafood pasta.
Gluten free pasta can be temperamental to cook however I noted ours was exquisitely “al dente”. Each tube was liberally coated in richly flavoured chilli tomato sauce and buried deep in the dish was a generous serving of mussels, cockles, fish, squid and octopus.
Abandoning all cares that I needed to leave some room for both our main and dessert, I tucked into the pasta greedily like a child with an ice cream on a hot day. This was an uncommon treat that I wanted to enjoy to the maximum.
For my main dish I ordered the “doppio barramundi”, or double barramundi. This dish originally comes with Parma ham saccottini which are little parcels of pasta filled with Parma ham, and therefore it needed to be adapted to be gluten free. The chef kindly replaced the saccottini with some buttery greens and roasted cherry tomatoes.
Each of the two fillets of barramundi were clean tasting without any of the muddy aftertaste that this fish can sometime have. The dish was simply finished with a thick sage and caper butter sauce.
The Boy also ordered fish for his main choosing the seared snapper. A thick chunk of crispy skinned snapper on a bed of the smoothest mash was topped with a flavoursome eggplant caponata. A couple of portions of crumbed calamari, roasted cherry tomatoes and a light drizzle of saffron aioli finished the dish.
I wasn’t anticipating such generously sized main meals as I’m accustomed to most fine dining establishments serving smaller portions. Consequently I ordered one side dish for us; the fresh made mashed potato with sautéed button mushrooms. Although I knew the Boy had already mash in his dish, I wanted some I could enjoy without any gluten contamination. Plus, who can go past sautéed mushrooms? Not me.
Many of you may have heard me mention about the Boy’s love of ice cream. It is an addiction that spans back for as long as I have known him. He waxes and wanes with his ice cream intake in a similar all-or-nothing fashion like I do with chocolate. Modo Mio’s ice cream trio of amarena cherry marble, vanilla and Nutella did not disappoint my beloved ice cream connoisseur.
I opted for one of my favourite traditional Italian desserts; a pannacotta. It was perfectly formed with an exquisite ability to jiggle about without losing its shape despite my repeated attempts as I wobbled my plate about the table. It passed my test and I knew I made the right choice.
It was served in a cherry and rhubarb consommé giving alternating sweet and tart flavours. We went silent as we tucked into our final dish for the evening. All you could hear was the repeated chink of our spoons against our plates as we scooped up each mouthful, both wistfully off in our own private thoughts of decadent dessertland.
I love returning to a restaurant and seeing how they have grown and developed, especially when it is for the better. Whilst there wasn’t anything overtly negative with our first visit to Modo Mio, we did experience slow, inattentive service and our meal lacked any wow factor.
In total contrast, our most recent visit we were very impressed with the quality of the food and the attentive, knowledgeable service. We also found Modo Mio’s prices quite reasonable considering its location in the Crown complex. We will look forward to returning again in the future.Chompchomp dined as a guest of Crown Perth. She was offered a meal of the value of $150 however in her usual gluttonous state she couldn’t hold herself back and ordered a further $100 worth of food and drink. She was more than happy to pay the remaining balance of their meal herself. She was in no way obliged to write a favourable review and did not let the wait staff know the purpose of her visit. Modo Mio Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.crownperth.com.au/restaurants/premium/modo-mio/about Price: $$$$ Entrees $25-33, Pasta $27-34, Mains $31-51
After a long drive through the pouring rain it was a relief to arrive in Carnarvon ready for the WA Signature Dish regional final. It had been a right kerfuffle getting to our destination with missed flights, flight delays and severe weather warnings but we made it albeit one day late.
We arrived in Carnarvon in the late afternoon and checked into our accommodation at the Best Western Hospitality Inn. Our room was clean and simply appointed with a minibar stocked with nibbles, beer, wine and soft drinks. There were also tea and coffee-making facilities, free WIFI and room service however the internet connection was painfully slow.
On our first night we were a little weary from travelling all day so we ate at the hotel restaurant Sails. Sails is considered one of the more refined dining options in town in addition to being one of the very few restaurants that remain open seven days a week.
Having heard great things about Carnarvon’s fresh seafood it was all I was in the mood for. And the best way to start a seafood feast is with oysters. Now I realise the hot climate of Carnarvon excludes it from farming oysters locally this meant the oysters on Sail’s menu would undoubtedly be imported. However, when I get the fanciful idea of eating oysters I just will not stop until I am satisfied. These giant sized babies came from Frankland Bay in South Australia and were plump, creamy and surprisingly fresh. We enjoyed them served natural with a squeeze of cut lemon.
Before ordering anything else the chef kindly came out to speak with me about suitable gluten free options from his menu. I always appreciate this level of concern as it illustrates to me that they will ensure to take care when preparing my food. Our first dish was a seared prawn salad using local prawns tossed through a mighty sized salad of julienned bacon, roasted pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and baby spinach leaves. It was finished with a lemon, chilli and coriander dressing. The bacon was an odd addition and one we didn’t expect however being cut into such thin slivers it wasn’t overpowering and added just a hint of flavour with each mouthful.
Our second entrée was the grilled ginger scallops. This dish also has a level of curiosity about it as in addition to the enormous scallops served in the shell, there were extra smaller sized ones buried underneath. It worked out quite good value when you consider the price as there ended up being six scallops in total. It came served upon a scoop of steamed rice and wilted Chinese greens.
An unexpected touch of complementary lemon sorbet was brought to our table in the interlude between our first and second courses. After all the spice and ginger flavours it was a welcoming cleanser to prepare for our main meal.
For mains we both ordered the tropical barramundi. The fillet was grilled lightly, served on a bed of bok choy and topped with lemon butter sauce plus a spoonful of chilli mango salsa. A couple of poached prawns topped this collection of ingredients as a strange afterthought. Whilst the fish was soft and tender within, I felt the combination of lemon butter and mango salsa was too eclectic with only a small amount of each so that neither had the chance to shine. The end result was actually a somewhat bland dish. Such a shame because those simple flavours had a lot of potential.
We ended our night which Sail’s cheese platter for two which considering the price once again this was a generous portion size. The chef ensured to serve the water crackers in a separate bowl to avoid any gluten contamination which reinforced to me what a gluten free friendly place this was. There were four different types of cheese; chunks of tasty cheddar, smoked Dutch, Danish blue and Camembert sat among some pieces of fresh fruit and roasted nuts.
The complimentary breakfast provided with our room was very basic including some sliced toast, fruit and cheese plus an array of cereals. There wasn’t any gluten free bread available. You are able to pay a small amount extra for a hot cooked meal if you prefer but instead I bought some gluten free muffins from the local Woolworth’s supermarket which they grilled for me at no extra charge.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Carnarvon and whilst the Best Western is by no means the five-star luxury that I love, it was comfortable and clean with friendly service. We wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again next time we are in the region.Disclaimer: Chompchomp’s accommodation at Best Western Carnarvon was partly funded for by Buy West Eat Best for my involvement in their WA Signature Dish competition. Sails Restaurant 6 West Street, Carnarvon WA 6701 | (08) 9941 1600 | www.carnarvon.wa.hospitalityinns.com.au
One of the perks of being a food blogger is that we often receive invitations to attend various foodie events and launch parties. Free food and booze is enough to put a smile on anyone’s dial however sometimes there can be very few gluten free options for me to eat and it just ends up being one big tease. If it’s a high-profile cocktail style event I have occasionally omitted telling the organisers that I’m gluten free to avoid making a fuss. This brazen approach has sometimes worked and sometimes not. At the Taste Great Southern Launch Party my strategy was a complete fail. For the entire event I proceeded to be tortured by multitude of amazing dishes coming out of the kitchen and yet I couldn’t eat a single one. I won’t be making the same mistake again. Fuss or no fuss I need to eat!
The only thing I could eat were the natural oysters shucked fresh by Carl Thee Shucker. I positioned myself right up next to Carl and greedily gobbled them as he shucked them but unfortunately they ran out quite early in the night. Luck was surely not on my feasting side that night. By the end of the party I had drunk a disproportionate amount of wine to food and was in urgent need of a decent feed. We were just around the corner from Bivouac Canteen so thankfully I didn’t have to stagger too far. After a short wait we were seated at our table at which point I could I swear I could have nearly eaten my own arm I was THAT hungry.
Our waitress was absolutely gorgeous and helped me through my desperate state to see what could be done gluten free. She came up with a variety of options and due to my urgent hunger I pretty much ordered them all. Being a little obsessive with crispy skinned fish this was my immediate first choice. The barramundi had a buttery smooth texture underlying a crunchy, wafer thin layer of seared crispy skin. It was served with a salty, samphire citrus sauce. Alongside the fish was a currant, pine nut, feta and rocket salad with bright little pomegranate seeds dotted in for some tarty sweetness.
The baby carrots were firm enough to pick up whole yet soft enough to cut with a fork. They felt oddly decadent smothered with rich almond cream and a hint of spicy harissa. I never knew carrots had so much potential!
Amazingly the fried local whitebait with tahini yoghurt could be served gluten free. I rarely have such an opportunity to eat these little guys as they are usually dusted in wheat flour but this time round there was no holding me back. I relished in eating them head and all for the full flavour punch.
As my raging hunger took some time to settle down I realised that I was the one doing most of the eating as the Boy was already quite full from all the canapés served at the launch party earlier. In a moment of self-control I thought it a wise idea to order a salad to fill me up as our final choice. But I cheated a little, I mean who can go past a grilled haloumi salad? I’m sure it has elements of healthy in it, right? It was tossed in with watermelon, mint, pistachio and green olives. The spritzy orange blossom and fennel dressing left a light and refreshing taste on the palate convincing me that I had been good enough to justify ordering some dessert.
I ordered the peach and lavender fool without really knowing what sort of dessert a “fool” was but I love trying new things and it was one of the few gluten free options. I also asked for some Turkish delight on the side to which the Boy retorted “What do you want THAT for?” Turkish delight is something I detested for years until recently when I received some for the Sweet Swap and now I am totally converted. Pillows of firm jelly dusted with powder puffs of icing sugar left gentle scents of rosewater and orange on my satisfied taste-buds.
A “fool” turns out to be type of English dessert made by folding stewed fruit into whipped cream or custard. Bivouac used honeycomb yoghurt to mix in with the fruit and generously drizzled the lot with dark ruby red berry coulis. Shard of honey comb and sprinkles of lavender completed this creation but I confess it was all bit too much dairy for me. The Boy on the other hand was completely smitten and happily finished it off with a contented smile on his face.
I loved Bivouac’s spunk and groove; it typifies just how cool Northbridge is becoming. It is no longer the roughened playground of hardened partygoers but has a number of snappy eateries with their fingers firmly on the pulse. I can guarantee this is one place we will definitely be returning to.This is not a sponsored meal and Chompchomp paid for this meal in full. Bivouac 198 William Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | (08) 9227 0883 | bivouac.com.au Price: $$ (Share plates $7-34, Pizzas $23-26 (not GF) ) Food: 4/5 (share plates of simple concepts with an interesting twist) Service: 4/5 (quick on their feet with hipster humour and smiles) Ambience: 3.5/5 (happening, busy and loud) Drinks: 4 /5 (excellent interesting choice of regional Aussie and Internationals) Total: 15.5 /20
Eat Drink Perth is celebrating its 10th year and their launch party The First Feast was held at Brookfield Place last Monday. The event attracted all the who’s who of the food industry as seven of the star venues from around Brookfield Place took the guests on a culinary journey complete with signature cocktails, entertainment and substantial amounts of food. As one of the team of four official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth I joined the festivities for a night of fun.
The evening commenced outdoors under the stars with pre-dinner cocktails served by Bar Lafayette and Choo Choo’s. A gorgeous Perth based swing band called the Darling Buds of May churned out some hip-swinging tunes under the eerie blue lighting whilst the mixologists at the bar vigorously shook, muddled and stirred up some of the prettiest cocktails in town.
It was hard to know what our amuse bouche actually looked like under the deep blue hue of the lights but it certainly packed a bomb of flavour. It was created by the guest of honour Matt Golinski using a number of ingredients that are Western Australian grown. Bite sized spoonfuls of soft spanner crab mixed with crushed macadamia, ginger and coconut were piled neatly on a betel leaf and topped with pearls of finger lime. The heart-shaped leaf made it easy to roll up and eat somewhat delicately even for someone as uncoordinated as myself.
After a few rounds of Moscow Mule cocktails we were all ushered into the foyer of Brookfield Place to what I can only describe as the longest long table I have ever seen. Seating 250 guests it spanned from one side of the vast foyer to the other. Our tables were already set with our entrées which were created by Sushia Izakaya; a Japanese restaurant who pride themselves on using fresh produce to prepare dishes that are a fusion of traditional and modern Japanese flavours.
The majority of the table received the Hamachi carpaccio of Kingfish sashimi in an Asian styled pesto with yuzu soy and wafu gelée. I was told that whilst the fish was very soft it tasted like it had been plated a little too soon in advance and had consequently been sitting at the table for some time before we were seated.
As I gazed up and down the longest long table I noticed that for once I wasn’t the only one with food allergies and there was in fact three of us in a row with alternate dishes to the Kingfish. My gluten free option of pork belly was served cold and each cube of meat had a near gelatinous texture that melted on contact with my tongue. It was topped with a ginger salsa and came with a mound of pickled daikon. I love my Japanese pickles and was overjoyed at the size of my heap on the plate.
Queen of Bad Timing’s Kristy cannot eat capsicum and so she was served gyu tataki, or seared beef. It was served with garlic chips, chives, momiji orosh, scallions and ponzu sauce.
Michelle from Foodie Cravings needed something cooked as she has a little Junior Burger Boy in the oven. Whilst the staff didn’t get the memo of her pregnancy dietary requirements in advance the kitchen were super quick on their feet to whip her up some gyu kushiyaki, or beef skewers. Marinated in kinolo teriyaki sauce each morsel looked exquisitely soft. Gazing over at her plate I had a brief moment of carnivorous food envy and she tweaked each piece off the skewer and devoured it.
The mains were provided by The Trustee Bar and Bistro as a shared style of dining with the dishes being placed in the centre of the table. I was somewhat surprised that for such a high profile event the mains were not plated individually however shared dining does make the night more social and interactive by encouraging strangers to share stories.
All the mains and sides were gluten free allowing me to try them all. The Cone Bay barramundi was by far my favourite, obviously in part due to the addition of truffle but also because it was such a quality piece of fish cooked faultlessly.
The cheese platter created by The Heritage came in a variety of forms to suit everyone’s dietary requirements. The standard option consisted of some crumbled Papillon Roquefort with Roquefort foam, cabernet poached pear and a thyme salted doughnut. For my gluten free version the doughnut was omitted.
Being pregnant, Foodie Cravings cannot eat soft cheese she received a wedge of Swiss Gruyère instead of the blue cheese.
The “Whisky and Cigars” dessert was created by Print Hall. The jar of crème caramel embodied all the rich honey flavours of Lochen Ora whisky leaving subtle lingering hints of spice of the palate. The chocolate cigar wasn’t gluten free however I was told it had very distinct smoky tobacco flavours and was an acquired taste that not all enjoyed. I cannot deny it makes me happy to know my gluten free component was the best part! 😉
Being a Monday evening many of us were holding ourselves back on our alcohol consumption knowing that we would have to drag ourselves out of bed to go work the following day. However as glasses of Bobeche’s famous Iced Tea were brought to the table I resigned myself to the fact that I would wake up in the morning to find myself in Struggletown. Made with Ketel One Vodka, Tanqueray gin, Pampero Blanco Rum, Cherry Heering, sweet spice tea, fresh lemon and lemonade this was one Long Island Iced Tea too good to pass on. It was also one that made me grateful I didn’t drive that night! Whilst the Tea wasn’t served in their signature tea cups being a small bar I can imagine they are unlikely to own 250 cups to be able to use on that single evening!Chompchomp was invited to The First Feast as a guest and will be one of the official four bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival 2014. For the whole month of April there will be events, activities and discounts on food and beverages all across the city. Check out the Eat Drink Perth website for all the latest news.
The Secret Cake Club is a Perth based group of of keen bakers that were originally known as the Perth Clandestine Cake Club. The Clandestine Cake Club is a worldwide phenomenon that was created two years ago by cake lover Lynn Hill in Leeds, UK. Her aim was to get people together in a relaxed social environment so they could “Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake”. Her concept is strictly for cake only and no cupcakes, brownies, pies or tarts are allowed. After received a scolding from Lynn Hill herself after not adhering to these rules the CCC organisers decided enough was enough and the Secret Cake Club was born. This new group prides themselves on having no rules and has reached considerable popularity with avid bakers from all around Perth. Their events are held every 4-6 weeks and places fill up fast.
One night when the SCC girls were out on a bar crawl, they got the inspiration to create a similar styled group but not to eat cake, to bar hop and drink! The new group was christened the Secret Bar Crawl and they had their first official event on the weekend of Eat Drink Blog Conference. Our planned bar crawl was to take us across the City of Perth starting at Bobeche in Brookfield Place then moving onto Wolf Lane before ending the night at The Stables Bar.
I joined the crew for the first half of the bar crawl at Bobeche’s, a cute little basement bar tucked away off St Georges Terrace. Earlier that afternoon at work, I had to go through the heart breaking experience of putting one of my long term patients to sleep. He was a gorgeous sixteen year old dog that had captured many of our hearts but after braving a long battle with illness we all knew it was his time. Knowing this sure doesn’t make it any easier however and a whole bunch of us ended up blubbering at work. RIP dear Boofa.
To liven up my mood and be sociable I knew I needed a strong drink with a short, sharp and throat burning kick. I asked the gurning bartender for advice and she suggested “The Trilby”. The Trilby has Tanqueray gin, Noilly Prat vermouth, crème Yvette and Fee Brothers orange bitters all shaken with a high amount of vigorous energy and served in a Martini glass. No frills, bells or whistles this was exactly what I needed to cast away my thoughts of death and disease.
The girls had organised our own cordoned off area complete with bowls of complementary popcorn on the tables. The popcorn had been cooked in coconut oil and had a subtle coconutty after-taste. It was great to see some familiar faces there but also to meet some people that I had been following on Twitter for some time but never actually met. This is a common problem for social media addicts like myself, friends are easily made on Twitter but many of them you don’t meet face to face for some time if ever. I continued on for a short while at our second venue Wolf Lane before I received a phone call from the Boy wanting to meet for dinner.
After a five month hiatus from wearing my high heels due to the stupid broken toe, I have discovered that I am no longer accustomed to wearing them and I had to walk embarrassingly slow and carefully. It is a strange feeling being clumsy in heels. Having a shoe designer for a father meant that I worked out how to walk in heels from a young age. Being a bit of an unplanned night out we didn’t have any dinner reservations made so I suggested that we head over to Brookfield Place. Given how many restaurants they have in their complex I figured there was bound to be at least one that could fit us in.
After just a short wait at their bar we managed to score a table at the first restaurant we stumbled into; The Trustee. As I sunk myself into their Chesterfield-styled seating I gazed around the dining room and deduced that we were probably the most sober people in the room. And after several rounds of rocket fuelled cocktails we were definitely not THAT sober. The group of men at the table next to us were so amped up like they were at a football match and kept making loud whooping noises that could be likened to one of our primate counterparts. In fact, in the dim lighting they may have even resembled them…
It was late and neither of us were that hungry so we decided to share an entrée and ordered the tuna tartare. Lightly tossed in sesame seeds, the tuna was a deep red colour and buttery fresh. It was served with a peach puree and some icy cold Campari sorbet. We also ordered a serve of their fat chips which for $13 were quite possibly some of the most expensive potatoes in town. Disappointingly they were a touch undercooked and were very firm to bite into. They sure looked better than they tasted.
My main choice was the barramundi and the skin was cooked to a wonderful caramel colour whilst the flesh underneath remained smooth to the point of near creaminess. It sat on a bed of celeriac veloute and came with an apple, hazelnut and labna salad. Curiously, next to my fish two random fat chips sat innocently alongside for company. Maybe this was their rebuttal against my lack of acceptance.
The Boy had the prawn shiitake linguine which was filled with vibrant colours of spring. Whilst as I’m sure you all know we are always more that happy to pay a premium for good food, the Boy thought this small serve of pasta with a few teeny prawns was over priced considering its size and quality.
If a restaurant chooses to price themselves in the higher price bracket I expect them to fulfil two simple conditions; awesome food AND awesome service. Simple. Our recent meal at Print Hall which is only metres away from The Trustee is the perfect example of this. Despite reading so many positive things about The Trustee from mainstream food critics, we were surprised how poor their service was throughout the whole evening. It was consistently slow, jolted and totally disorganised. On multiple occasions waitresses would walk past our empty plates, look down at them and then walk off empty handed. Once our plates were eventually cleared, we waited forever for the dessert menus and then when I enquired about what was gluten free, my waitress said she would be right back with my options but then never returned! After a half an hour wait we had finished our wine, got up and left. Not ordering dessert is an unusual occurrence for me indeed!Bobeche 131 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9226 5596 | www.bobeche.com.au www.thetrustee.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $20-26, Mains $38-50) Food: 3/5 (get the simple things right) Service: 2/5 (inattentive, disorganised) Ambience: 3/5 (subdued lighting, opulence and luxury) Drinks: 4.5/5 (allow yourself some time to peruse the 40 page wine list!) Total: 12.5/20
With the disappointment resulting from our cancelled Adelaide trip still fresh in our minds, we both looked forward to our weekend break down in Margaret River with an exaggerated level of enthusiasm. Our darling fur-child Eddie had made a full recovery and we both coördinated getting out of work on time on the Friday making for a perfect start to the weekend. To facilitate this further, earlier on in the week I had purchased enough gourmet treats to feed an army and the Boy had stocked up on wine, champagne and plenty of beer. We drove down on the Friday night to our Chalet at Chandeliers on Abbey where we have stayed before some years back. The following morning we lazily lounged in bed and I flicked through my Twitter feed to see what was happening in the real world. I was awakened by a stunning photograph of flash cooked snapper for Knee Deep Wines.
I was actually so excited by its beauty that I woke the Boy up to show him. It was met with some grunts of approval before he drifted back off to sleep. Later that morning as I was cooking us breakfast, I mentioned the photo again and he suggested making a booking at Knee Deep for lunch. Expecting there to be no chance to score a table at such last minute I whooped with joy when I was told there was one table left!
Knee Deep Wines first started producing wines in 2004 and are rated 5-stars in the most recent James Halliday Australian Wine Companion. We arrived a little early and enjoyed working our way through their collection at the cellar door before we sat at our table. We particularly enjoyed the 2010 Limited Release Kim’s Chardonnay with its buttery creaminess and the medium bodied 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. Knee Deep Restaurant’s chef Ben Day is a recent addition to the kitchen only starting in late February this year and since then has received a number of accolades including a Chef’s Hat in the 2013 West Australian Good Food Guide.
We chose the “Trust the Chef” five course menu where the chef chooses five courses for us matched with Knee Deep Wines for $115. To start with we were brought some freshly baked organic sourdough and cultured butter which are both made in house. The butter is made from local cream and infused with beautiful fresh nasturtium flowers and leaves. The aromas wafted across the table and made me so hungry I started to salivate.
Thankfully our waitress didn’t leave me hanging for too long and after apologising for not having any gluten free bread available, brought some flavoursome marinated olives for me to nibble on. She informed us that like most ingredients used in the kitchen all the olives are marinated in house with the chef using different marinades for each type of olive.
For our first entrée, it was like the long awaited joy of spring had been captured and masterfully spread across our plate. Fresh tangy milk curds made from un-homogenised milk obtained from Millers dairy in Cowaramup, vibrant seasonal flowers and wild fennel laced the plate with shavings of zucchini and zigzags of sweet jarrah honey. Scattered in amongst the colour were paper thin “milk crisps”. Our waitress described with great enthusiasm how the chef made these crisps from skim milk infused with all the parts from the wild fennel plant. Each crisp is flavoured with sprinklings of fennel pollen to add extra punch and brought a wonderful textual contrast to this unique and pretty dish.
Continuing with the same level of originality and intrigue our next dish consisted of a wedge of smoked eel, yabby tail and for the Boy a curly whirly prawn cracker. It was freezing cold and raining outside and the delicately flavoured, warming coconut broth hit the spot.
Each dish exuded Chef Day’s passion for local and seasonal produce and this dish was garnished with locally foraged “beach herbs”. He later informed me that these beach herbs can include on any day the familiar samphire along with dune spinach, salt bush, sea celery, pig face flowers and native spinach.
I am a sucker for meticulous presentation. In my own line of work as a vet, attention to detail is everything especially with my niche field of feline medicine. When this attitude is applied to fine dining, it is by far a step in the right direction in my humble opinion. Our main dish of barramundi and octopus was indeed a plate of perfection. Each component and flavour was carefully thought out and prepared yet still retained an air of simplicity with no pretention. The octopus passed my current “Barcelona test” and the mojo picon had just a teeny bit of kick to it.
I used to be a fan of having “all the cheese” when dining out and have been known to order up to five different cheeses for just the two of us because it’s too hard to choose. I figure it’s just another way I show my “all or nothing” side of myself. Since then I have come to realise that with the right chef it is possible to have just one cheese and turn it into a course of its own right by simply pairing it with the right accompaniments. Five is not necessarily better than one! A humble slice of Pont L’Evêque was served with organic Sundowner apples, pickled watermelon and shaved macadamia. Pont L’Evêque is a French cheese and is one of the oldest Norman cheeses still in production. It is an uncooked, un-pressed, washed rind cheese made with cow’s milk and is creamy pale with a smooth fine texture and pungent aroma.
A refreshing palate cleanser of quince & watermelon sorbet gave just the right element of turning our savoury to sweet notes on our palate and tuned us in perfectly for the final course; dessert.
After not a single dish faltering in its own wonder, we were wide-eyed with anticipation to see what was going to be next. We were not disappointed. Foamy light bitter chocolate espuma with blood orange sorbet and cubes of tart blood orange jelly lay hidden under fracturable shards of chocolate wafer. This whole dish of magnificence was dusted in freeze dried blood orange powder.
I was impressed. For a spur of the minute decision to make a reservation because of a photo I’d seen on Twitter for a restaurant that was never really on my radar; we had experienced a total wow factor from beginning to end. Quirky and knowledgeable service, elegant but simple presentation and a level of true passion and enthusiasm that filtered from the kitchen all the way through to the dining room. This was a late minute change of plans I will never regret.
Knee Deep Winery & Restaurant61 Johnson Road, Margaret River WA 6280 | (08) 9755 6776 | kneedeepwines.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $16-22, Mains $28-40, 5 course Trust the Chef $90 + $25 matched wines) Food: 4.5/5 (creative, intriguing and locally sourced) Service: 4.5/5 (quirky and passionate) Ambience: 4/5 (even in the pouring rain, the vines are pretty as a picture) Drinks: 4/5 (only Knee Deep Wines available, but they matched well with each course) Total: 17/20
I received a curious gift in the mail recently consisting of a bottle of fig infused balsamic vinegar. Attached to the bottle like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland was a little card inviting me to the launch of the Fig’s new winter menu at the Naked Fig in Swanbourne. Having never been to any of the Fig’s before the Boy and I set out on a cold blustery night with no expectations or presumptions. We were openly greeted by Jamie, the Operations Manager on arrival and before long we had glasses of bubbles in hand to help set the jovial mood for the evening.
The Fig restaurants comprise of three beach-side venues; the Wild Fig in North Beach, the Pickled Fig in South Fremantle, and the Naked Fig in Swanbourne. Whilst sharing similarities in their West Coast scenery, Jamie explained to us that each of their restaurants have been allowed to develop their own “personality” which is a reflection of both their head chef’s ideas and their local clientele’s needs. For the evening the three head chefs wanted to give us a feel for what their own Fig was all about. They in turn each selected an entrée, main and dessert for us to share giving a total of nine dishes to try.
The team had put a lot of thought into how they ran the night keeping the vibe very light hearted and casual while encouraging us to not be shy to give them our honest thoughts both good and bad. A thoughtful touch was the food photography table; a table with great overhead lighting to allow us to take quality pics of the meals without reaching across the table and getting in each other’s way. A big win for us bloggers, but realistically a win for them too as it maximises the appearance of their food on our blogs.
There was no problem adapting the meals on the menu to suit my gluten free and no onion requirement. For each dish Jamie carefully explained to me what adjustments if any were made. Whilst the olive bread looked tasty our gluten free alternative was reasonable and wasn’t too stodgy or crumbly as many gluten free breads can be.
The gluten free version of the tortellini consisted of soft scallops served in shellfish cappuccino sauce without the pasta. The scallops were of a small size but tender on the inside with a slight firmness to the outside. I winced as the boy popped the last one in his mouth as I had been eyeing it off for a few minutes for myself. I quietly consoled myself as there was still a lot of food to come!
The vegetarian entrée from the Wild Fig was by far my favourite starter; a hearty slab of crisp fried polenta served with an aubergine and tomato roulade along with dollops of sweet agro dolce puree. This dish was a little more difficult to share amongst us and I think I made have inadvertently taken more than my fair share. Oops.
Although crispy skinned barramundi may be considered a dish that lacks creativity it is a common fall-back choice for me that when done properly totally satisfies me. This fillet was buttery smooth with paper thin crunchy skin and the serving size was generous. The bed of chorizo, capsicum and orange reduction brought an element of excitement to this staple of mine and spritzed it up to make it a bit more interesting.
The Naked Fig’s main dish consisted of beef prepared two ways. A rich ruby-red wedge of sirloin crusted with pepper and rosemary served alongside a scrumptiously tearable uber-soft portion of blade steak. Having these two very alternate textures, flavours and presentations of meat made this meal a bit more on the lines of fine dining when compared to the fish.
The most outstanding dish of the evening was by far the Wild Fig’s duck main once again prepared two ways. A pan roasted duck breast paired with a confit duck and mushroom tart, creamy parsnip puree, some sautéed kale and a scattering of textured pistachio brittle. For my gluten free alternative they simply omitted the tart casing leaving the confit for us to still enjoy. I’m fairly sure this was the winner from all of us at our end of the table with the beef pulling in a narrow second.
Those of you who know me will be aware of my recent popcorn obsession. Following in the vein of my “all or nothing” personality I have been known to down a whole bag in one sitting before dinnertime. There have also been a number of emergency dashes to the shops in my lunch break. Maybe I’m suffering from a corn deficiency if that is possible. Thank goodness popcorn is gluten free, right? So obviously my favourite dessert for the evening had to be the popcorn pannacotta. I even subjected the pannacotta to the booby jiggle test to which it passed with flying colours. My only criticism, being the popcorn connoisseur, was that the popcorn pieces tasted a bit stale and chewy however the remainder of the dish was absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious.
As the white chocolate and raspberry mille-feuille was not gluten free, I didn’t get to taste it and therefore I am unable to personally comment on it but Perth Munchkin did say this was her pick of the bunch.
We all tap-tap-cracked the top of the mandarin and thyme crème brûlée to expose the custardy deliciousness underneath and although the hint of thyme was a fabulous combination with the sweet citrus the texture was very runny as the custard had failed to set properly. Thankfully this was at no sacrifice to flavour but this dish would have been near perfect if the texture was correct.
As we wrapped up the evening out of the kitchen came the three head chefs; Andy Walton from Pickled, Chris May from Naked and Rodrigo da Rocha from Wild. They were all smiles and took the time to tell us what inspired each of them to create their own menus. I love hearing passionate people talk about what they love and I could see each of these men still maintained their love for what they do.
Having read a mixed bag of reviews on all of the Fig’s, I have to say after our pleasant evening I’m inspired to go back and check them out on a night when they don’t know I’m food blogger. If our wonderful meal is anything to go by I’m fairly certain it will be an awesome experience….watch this space!Chompchomp was a guest of the Naked Fig. As a result I will not give a score on this dining experience as it is too hard to be 100% subjective when the meal is openly complementary. When I return incognito, I may give a score then.
Many of you may know I grew up in Adelaide, the City of Churches. At the young and impressionable age of seventeen I left my family and friends behind in order to head west to study veterinary science. Although initially moving to the opposite side of our great continent was not easy, Perth has given me amazing opportunities, plenty of sunshine and most importantly has found me the love of my life.
In my earlier years in Perth I remained in close contact with very few of my school companions. In fact in all honesty, until the creation of Facebook I only stayed in touch with just one school friend; Lenni. Despite our homes being geographically separated by thousands of kilometres, over the years we have always managed to see each other at least once every twelve months or so.
When we were living in London she detoured to see me from Greece where she had attended a family wedding. We lived in a poky little bed-sit in South-east London which was situated upstairs from the 24 hour veterinary hospital in which I worked at. We only had enough room to fit a single blow up mattress on the floor and by the end of every night it would ensure to deflate itself. Dear Lenni never uttered a complaint. No room for luxury during these times!
Another time she flew over for a whirlwind trip down to Margaret River and Pemberton. Eager to show off my newly adopted home, I tried to squeeze everything into a tight 3 day schedule. For those who know these areas you will understand what a crazy schedule this was. We covered a LOT of ground!
Whenever I was visiting Mum in Adelaide, Lenni would always manage to fit me into her hectic on-call schedule for some late night drinks and a bite to eat. No matter how long between impromptu visits we would always manage to spend the whole time laughing and chattering late into the night. I would often wake up the next day with sore stomach muscles from too much giggling.
Fate has a way for bringing good friends together and in recent years Lenni’s career has also brought her to this state of opportunity. Being well overdue to see each other we met up one weeknight at Cantina 663 in Mount Lawley to enjoy some good food, wine and conversation.
I love eating out with someone who really enjoys their food. It is so much more pleasurable to take the time to savour all the flavours of a meal as opposed to quickly wolfing everything down. Better still, it allows you to analyse and really appreciate what you are devouring. Lenni is a gracefully slow eater and meals with her are always at an extended relaxed pace. Cantina 663 is perfect for this style of eating as much of their dishes are designed to share.
There was initially much confusion from our waiter upon ordering our food. At first, he gave me the impression that he was quite familiar with fructose malabsorption and advised me that there was only a couple of small nibbles I could have and nothing on the main menu. He told me as a replacement the chef was happy to specially make me a risotto for my main instead. As he walked away from our table I was left feeling a little bewildered as I have previously been able to eat a number of their menu items as much of it is gluten free. What made things worse was I didn’t feel like a risotto at all yet didn’t want to seem like a complaining ungrateful customer!
On further questioning I discovered that my waiter had presumed that fructose malabsorption meant I had a fruit allergy and couldn’t eat anything with any fruit at all. As many of the dishes contained citrus or lemon juice he thought that they would all be unsuitable. After giving him a brief run down on fructose malabsorption, he returned to the kitchen armed with a wealth of information on this frustrating condition and found out that there was indeed a lot more on the menu that I could eat. What a relief. I was starting to get a bit worried for a moment there!
The buttery smooth smoked salmon rillettes had the consistency of creamy pâté and smeared elegantly over the crusty charred bread. There was no gluten free bread available but when I booked the table a few days prior the waitress kindly advised me in advance and welcomed me to bring my own…which of course I forgot! Paired with crunchy liquoricy preserved fennel and a bottle of Grenache this was perfect dish to kick start our night.
The sauce for the roasted mushrooms contained onions so the chef served this on the side. Despite omitting this potentially key ingredient, the earthy mushrooms were still bursting with rich port flavoured juices. Shreds of buffalo mozzarella cut through the acidity of the dish leaving a lingering creaminess on the palate. A simple dish done well.
Lenni had the crisp pork belly with cotechino, potato hash and pickled onions. Nestled in amongst all these ingredients were finger like slivers of sweet Pink Lady apple. The crackling was as hard as toffee and snapped satisfyingly in the mouth with an audible crack. The meat lacked any unpleasant porky after-taste and the fat had emulsified to a custard-like texture. I was lucky enough to try a small sample denuded of any sauce and could see why she finished every morsel on her plate despite being very full!
I enjoyed the pan-fried barramundi served with an almond butter sauce laced with baby capers. The fish was normally accompanied with artichokes and asparagus which presumably wasn’t onion free so the chef made me a large garden salad instead. The fish had thin crispy skin yet the flesh remained flaky and delicate requiring minimal effort to reduce into bite size morsels. The nearly sweet almond sauce made this ordinarily light meal much more satisfying and I was contentedly full by the end.
Fructose malabsorption is by no means an easy intolerance to understand, and to an untrained ear the requirements are complicated and difficult. I was impressed that although our waiter’s initial presumptions regarding my diet were incorrect he put in the effort to understand the facts and find me something I would enjoy. We will most definitely be back again.
More on Cantina 663: Birthday Dinner at Cantina 663, Mount Lawley (March, 2012)Cantina 663 Astor Arcade, 663 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, 6050 | (08) 9370 4883 | www.cantina663.com Price: $$$$ ($7-16 share plates/entrees, $25-35 mains) Food: 4.5/5 (they really need to consider stocking gluten free bread) Service: 3.5/5 (bubbly, efficient, but a little confused with my food intolerances) Ambience: 4/5 (warm and cosy inside on a cold rainy night) Drinks: 4/5 (Interesting Portuguese, Spanish & Italian wines. Perfectly matched to the food) Total: 16/20
Late last year some of my workmates and I were lucky enough to be the winners of the annual Vetpath Quiz Night. Our prize was a $250 dinner voucher for 150 East Riverside Bar and Restaurant. Nearly six months came and went and we still hadn’t managed to coordinate a night where all six of us could come along. Getting everyone to agree on a set date felt a bit like trying to herd cats but with only one month left on the voucher before it expired; I successfully locked down a night when all but one of our winning team members could all attend. The member who couldn’t join us had recently moved to live in Queensland, so I figured that was a reasonable excuse!
150 East it is currently situated along a highway that appears to be undergoing something that is close to becoming the Greatest Road Works of the Decade here in Perth. Great Eastern Highway is being widened from two lanes to three lanes each way and for those not familiar with this area it may sound like no big deal. However the reality of it is that currently all telecommunications, power and gas lines lie under the existing footpaths which will soon be turned into highway roads. So prior to widening the roads, all these need to be located, dug up and moved. They are also adding bike lanes, bus lanes….the works. To complicate things even more the highway is the major gateway from the Eastern suburbs into the city thus making it a project of mammoth proportions which I believe is costing more than $225 million. All along this stretch of highway peak hour traffic has been slowed down to mind numbing speeds of 30-40 km/hour. I am lucky enough to get to travel along this every day to get to work!
As a result of these road works the access into 150 East is quite difficult as it is pretty much centred in the eye of the storm. Surprisingly despite this fact I found that the restaurant was relatively full. They had a live musician playing some covers of Angus and Julia Stone giving a relaxed and chilled out ambience. Some of us met at the bar for a couple of pre-dinner drinks to settle into the mood before we were shown to our table.
I shared a main sized entrée of seared scallops with crispy pork belly. The scallops were cooked beautifully and were soft tender little pillows that nearly dissolved in my mouth. The pork belly was a bit of a letdown. Each mouthful left that lingering fatty aftertaste and the crackling wasn’t crunchy enough. The dressing failed to tie these two ingredients together either and needed a little more sweetness to it to marry the flavours.
A few at our table order the fresh hand cut tagliatelle with prawns and crab. I was informed that the sauce clung beautifully to the strips of delicate pasta, the prawns were crunchy and fresh but the Cajun sauce lacked the punch they were looking for.
I ordered the fish of the day and I realise some of you may be a little weary of my incessant ordering of Barramundi. I agreed that maybe I order it a little too frequently but when done correctly with crispy skin it is one of my favourite types of fish. This time I was fairly disappointed to find my fish was slightly overcooked and didn’t flake apart under my fork.
The duo of duck was the most popular dish of the table and consisted of a confit leg with a duck and cognac sausage. The sausage was juicy and bursting with flavour and the confit leg wasn’t dry at all. The only negative feedback was the fresh pear garnish was a bit too hard.
Despite all being quite full, we all were really aiming to push the boat out for this rare occasion and make the most of the wonderful evening. I shared the vanilla and mandarin crème brûlée which was a beautiful smooth consistency but could have done with a hint more citrus after notes. Needless to say I still nearly licked the bowl clean.
The gingerbread pudding was soft and fairly moist but apparently needed more caramel sauce and as a result my colleagues didn’t finished their serve as it became a bit too stodgy without any extra gooeyness.
The biggest flaw in our evening was the cheese platter. It included a brie (Mon Sire Franche, Comte, France), a blue vein (La Traditional Du Bon Fourme D’Ambert, Auvergne, France), and a hard cheese (Gutshofer Schafskase, The Netherlands). So much potential was completely lost on our taste buds due to all three cheeses being served cold and seemingly straight out of the fridge. The brie was the literally the hardest hit by this oversight as many dear readers can surely empathise making the resultant cheese tasteless and barely edible.
We waited quite some time for our bill to arrive until eventually our waitress came over to inform us their computer had broken down and it would be a long wait until they could reboot it. It was getting quite late so we asked if we could just let her know what we ordered and pay. We were met with reluctance to do this but after further waiting with no computer recovery in sight she allowed us to go through the menu with her. Lucky for us our winning voucher covered the majority of the bill and we had minimal remaining to split amongst us. Given it being a near freebie meal, we all left very full and relatively content. However I hope once the highway access improves for 150 East, so will the quality and attention to detail in their restaurant.
Like Me on Facebook!150 East Riverside Bar Restaurant 150 Great Eastern Highway, Ascot 6104 | (08) 9479 0099 | www.assuredhotels.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrees $11.50-24.50, Mains $23.50-42) Food: 2/5 (porky aftertaste, overcooked fish and cold brie) Service: 2.5/5 (average no major hiccups) Ambience: 3.5/5 (loved the live music) Drinks: 3/5 (reasonable wine list, includes a lot a lovely Margaret River wines) Total: 11/20