My father-in-law’s birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day making it an occasion that is usually celebrated in a very relaxed style at their home. This year we were unable to attend the family gathering and proposed to take them out for lunch instead with just the four of us. Predictably for the time of year in Perth, the weather was absolutely glorious so I convinced everyone to head to the coast and meet at Il Lido Italian Canteen in Cottesloe.
The beach in Cottesloe is something to be proud of and in my humble opinion has to be one of the prettiest beaches in our state. The sky was as blue as the clear waters below it and the white expanses of sand were splashed with bright colours of beach towels and bikini clad sunbakers. There are people around the world who pay to go on holiday to be able visit locations like this and here we have it on our back door step. You cannot help but love Perth.
Il Lido is built in a 1935 heritage building and back in the 1940’s this site housed Lido Cabaret, which was the old-time equivalent to our modern day nightclub. Much of the interior has been kept intact with decorative high ceilings and windows facing out onto the beach. Il Lido has been on my ever growing wishlist of places to eat for some time having already been to both of their sister restaurants Duende and Gordon Street Garage a number of times.
Most of the small plates were already gluten free or were easily adaptable so we started off with a number of them to share before moving onto something more substantial. I have always been a huge lover of oysters as many of you may have noticed. Despite having tried them prepared countless different ways, until recently my favourite style has be “au natural”. That was until I tried Lalla Rookh’s incredible freshly shucked oysters with cucumber chilli granita. The combination of fresh saltiness and sweet iciness ending in a gentle spicy kick was more than just intriguing.
So when I saw something that sounded very similar on Il Lido’s menu I got quite excited. I should have however ordered them with no expectations because these oysters came with just a teeny dollop of melted sorbet not a shell full like I was expecting. Although the oysters were delightfully fresh, having such a small amount of sorbet made them lacklustre by comparison.
It must have been the day for carpaccio because I found myself unable to decide between the tuna and the beef. My solution was to simply order one of each. The tuna carpaccio was a complete hit. The dish was literally as pretty as a picture; chewy pieces of candied chilli, torn fresh orange and olives were scattered on top of thinly sliced fish. Each piece of tuna dissolved on the tongue leaving a surprisingly complex array of flavours on the palate.
The beef carpaccio was just as tender and was served with generous shavings of truffle sottocenere cheese along with lavish smears of horseradish cream. Each mouthful was as soft as silk and resulted in a brief period of silence across the table while we all gustated in pleasure.
I mean, who can say no to truffle cheese?
Our last starter of scallops had to be slightly adapted to be gluten free by omission of the “crumbs”. Plump scallops were hidden under piles of freshly tossed beans and greens. Whilst not the biggest scallops in town, each mouthful was browned to a warm caramel colour yet remained juicy and soft.
My father-in-law ordered himself the lamb cutlets for his celebratory birthday meal. The two meaty lamb chops came with light salad of fresh figs, spinach, basil, goats cheese and pine nuts all tossed enthusiastically to coat each component in tangy, creamy cheesiness.
My mother-in-law opted for a lighter meal, choosing the poached chicken salad with peaches, prosciutto, almonds and goats cheese. Her plate was piled high and ended up being a bigger serve than she had anticipated. I love how each of their salads came with a mix of seasonal fresh fruit and goats cheese, such a lovely combination to have on a hot summers day.
The Boy ordered the beetroot and goats cheese crespelle. Crespelle are the Italian equivalent of crepes, can be served as a savoury or sweet dish and are usually made using small sized pancakes folded with a sauce filling. By the time I had taken shots of his parent’s meals he was starting to get impatient giving me not much more than a millisecond to capture its vibrant colours.
I was in the same boat as my MIL and craved a light and healthy salad. I always eat way too much over Christmas and by the time New Year’s approaches I’m actually ready for a break! I chose the hickory smoked salmon with avocado, green beans and a yoghurt dressing. My helping was also generous with all the ingredients tumbled together evenly. I hate salads where the key ingredients are just dumped on top of the greens; everything needs to be tossed through!
My husband’s family are usually big eaters especially the men. It’s those long Dutch legs that need that extra filling up! I didn’t anticipate our big servings and ordered a couple of sides; crisp potato skins with paprika salt, aioli and a rocket, pear and parmesan salad. The potato skins are worth returning back for. Slightly spicy, super crunchy with just a hint of soft potato flesh these little numbers didn’t last long.
There were a couple of dessert choices that were gluten free including the pineapple upside down cake and the flourless chocolate cake. Having four mouths to feed on the table allowed me to order one of each knowing anything I couldn’t eat would still get eaten.
The pineapple cake was very moist and accompanied some poached pineapple and extra virgin olive oil ice cream that is made in house. The extra virgin flavour in the ice cream was not too over powering to be unpleasant and gave a pleasant fruity end to the tongue.
The Boy gobbled up a substantial part of his cake before I could get a fork in edgewise which generally is a good sign coming from someone who claims to not like desserts. The tall disc of cake came in a puddle of chocolate sauce and honeycomb pieces with honeycomb ice cream. I had a couple of mouthfuls and thought it was a little dry for my liking.
As both the Boy and I tend to work long hours, it isn’t often that we get to spoil either of our parents and it was totally worth it to see the beaming faces at the end of it all. To help all the food excesses digest we took a relaxing stroll along the coastline together and longed for the day to never end.
Il Lido was even better than we expected given our excellent experiences at Duende and variable meals at Gordon Street Garage. They have successfully emulated a casual beach side vibe yet serve stunning Italian “peasant” food that left the in-laws very impressed. I can guarantee we will be back.Il Lido Italian Canteen 88 Marine Parade, Cottesloe, WA 6011 | (08) 9286 1111 | illido.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $14-20, Mains $28-42) Food: 4.5/5 (focuses on simple Italian dishes with local, seasonal produce) Service: 4/5 (helpful with allergy choices, accommodating with alterations, full of smiles) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy but that is part of the atmosphere, indoor and outdoor options) Drinks: 4/5 (comprehensive wine list with many interesting Italian and Aussie options to suit all prices) Total: 16/20
This weather is seriously wild. A torrential river cascading down what was once a road isn’t exactly something I expected to see here in sunny Perth. I’ve seen it a bunch of times in Melbourne and most definitely around South-East Asia but in Perth? It’s madness I tell you. I had arranged to meet fellow blogger Whitney from dineWHITme.com for a coffee at Vans Café in Cottesloe but due to her being something of a study-work-blog-aholic she was running insanely late. I suppose I could have rescheduled but instead I decided to kill half an hour until she arrived.
It is an unusual thing for me to do; sit alone in a café sipping coffee, eating a macaron and reading the paper. I am the type of person that rarely stops still for more than a second and thus it didn’t take me long to start chatting to the person sitting next to me about food, cats and vegetarians. By the time Whit rocked up my neighbour had written herself a long list of new restaurant tips that I had suggested down onto her newspaper and she glowed like someone possessing juicy insider information.
Despite waiting for thirty minutes I was still undecided about my choice from the menu. The lay out of the menu is a little odd with three different time slots with varying overlap. Even after a couple of coffees it was hard to know where to look! We both agonised over it long enough for the waiter to come to our table twice to take our orders only to be met with two blank indecisive faces. It was a bee’s bum away from midday and logic drew me away from ordering some lunch as my hunger for some egg porn was uncontrollable. It’s not uncommon for me to have a second breakfast and I figured this was going to be one of those days.
There were a number of morning options that you could still order throughout the day and so my choice was a hot potato cake with smoked salmon, wilted spinach and a poached egg. Thankfully I was blessed and my burning desire for a sumptuous gooey egg was completely satisfied. The remainder of the dish was less than impressive however. The lemon butter was poured over my dish to the same exaggerated extent that the rain flooded the streets. The sheer amount of lemon butter would have been overwhelming had it not been that the potato cake was bland and poorly seasoned and was in dire need of a lift.
Whit had her own issues to contend with. Whilst egg porn was far from her mind, she was determined to have a lamb burger. She was on an unofficial mission to find the tastiest lamb burger in town so if it is on the menu, it must be devoured. That is until we were told they had run out of lamb; at twelve o’clock on a Monday. I could feel her disappointment from across the table and empathised; if there weren’t eggs on the menu to feed my addiction I was fairly confident I would pack up and go as I wanted them so bad.
As I nodded consolingly, Whit ended up choosing the lamb burger’s cousin; a pulled pork sandwich with Asian slaw and chilli jam. It turns out she is on a similar quest for the perfect pulled pork as she is with lamb. As she nibbled on her chewy, dry bun and flavourless pork my heart went out to her as my rays of golden egg enveloped everything on my plate. Looking at the torrential rain outside, my egg was to be the closest either of us would get to any sunshine that day.
As the pouring rain became apocalyptic outside, the whole of Napoleon Street completely filled up like a river breaking its banks. It looked like neither of us were heading anywhere else in a hurry. Brushing the let-down of the pulled pork aside, we looked about for a dessert menu to cheer up the taste buds.
Our dessert choice to share was a caramelised ginger rice pudding with the deceptive appearance of being a crème brûlée. We tapped and cracked the thin shell on top to reveal a thick creamy bed of dulcet rice pudding. Subtle hints of fresh lemony ginger added a bit of zing with even more tangy ginger in the scoop of ice-cream.
Encouraged by our winning dessert, we thought we would sit out the rain for a bit longer and have a round of coffee. We had already been chattering away for over four hours and I resigned to myself that my long list of tasks to do on my day off could simply wait for another day. With all the crazy crap that is going on in my life at the moment, whiling a day away in a café chatting with a newly found friend was much more enjoyable. As Whit took a sip of her coffee her face screwed up into contortions of displeasure border lining on pain. I reached over to grab her coffee for a taste; it was piping hot with an after-taste much like charcoal. What was to follow was something I’m sure can be defined as “how not to handle a disgruntled customer 101”. After three rounds of burnt coffee and a number of condescending comments implying that we obviously had no idea what a long macchiato tasted like, we were both left bewildered and mildly offended.
Customer service unfortunately still remains sorely lacking in some venues around Perth. With the recent opening of so many exciting and switched on eateries it would be wise for these restaurants to start improving or risk ending up getting left behind in the slipstream of other’s successes.
For the full story on what went down with the coffee saga head over to Whit’s account of our lunch on her blog: “Off the wall and into Vans”.Vans Café 1 Napoleon Street, Cottesloe WA 6011 | (08) 9384 0696 | www.vanscafe.com.au Price: $$$ (Breakfast $13-23, Mains $18-42) Food: 2.5/5 (hits and misses) Service: 2/5 (1st rule of customer service: the customer is always right) Ambience: 3.5/5 (bright, airy and even with the gloom outside felt sunny) Drinks: 2/5 (burnt Crema coffee…..so sad) Total: 10/20
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.
Back when I first became a partner in my business over six years ago, I was lucky enough to come on board with two other amazing and inspiring people; Chris and Muzz. Chris still remains in the business today, she is the talented surgeon who recently operated on our darling “son” Rollie the Burmese cat and saved his life. Muzz on the other hand sadly had to leave the partnership a few years ago in order to move overseas with the love of his life. As fresh, new and super keen incoming partners, we both shared the same vision for the practice and our enthusiasm would infectiously feed off each other’s. We would spend many of our spare moments and late shifts brain storming and business planning and achieved a lot of growth and development within the business during this time. We both learnt so much from working together and his departure from the country was a hard knock for all who knew him. But thankfully best friends are ones that you can go without seeing for many years and then when you eventually cross paths again, you can pick up right where you left off.
As you can imagine, I was so excited to hear that Muzz was making a brief trip back to Australia and couldn’t wait to catch up and share stories. From the moment we left my house for lunch, until he dropped me back at my front door hours later we did not stop chattering; hearing of each other’s successes, trials and tribulations from over the past three years since we had last seen each other.
The sun was shining gloriously in a clear bright blue sky so in order take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Perth coastline we headed over to Cottesloe to the Blue Duck. The view from the restaurant is one I could easily enjoy day after day but having not been to the Blue Duck for a number of years I was surprised that such an iconic restaurant had allowed its interiors to outdate themselves so badly. I almost got the feeling I was in a upmarket kiosk rather than a restaurant.
Our service was prompt yet friendly and casual. Our waitress for lunch was very bubby and tried to crack little jokes as we placed our orders. I advised her of my allergies to which she said there was no problems. We wanted to order a couple of nibbles before eating our mains but there were fairly limited gluten free options. Despite the limited menu, the kitchen was happy to alter the salt and pepper calamari to exclude the flour dusting and coupled with some marinated olives there was ample food for us to start with.
The mixed marinated olives were fairly standard fare; in fact they were certainly not bad at all however they in no way could compare to the delicious olives I ate recently with Tara at Pata Negra. Needless to say we are comparing two very different dining establishments here! The salt and pepper squid was extremely tender and the Asian salad was sweet, light and quite moreish.
I was quite surprised to be told the duck curry was gluten and onion free. I don’t get to enjoy a lot of curries as they are usually neither of these so I eagerly ordered this one. Massaman curries are really one of the kings of all Thai curries and manage to cover all those delicious quadrants of flavour you find in Thai food: spicy and sweet, coconuty and sour; all in one curry. It is a relatively easy curry to make taste amazing however although this was a very good it wasn’t quite spicy enough for my liking. Given it was a stinking hot day outside that was probably a good thing. Unfortunately I also noted that there was some onion contained in the rice, an oversight that gave me a bit of discomfort later that afternoon.
Muzz’s linguine looked mouth-wateringly good and eyeing it across the table gave me a pang of food envy! I don’t often miss eating pasta on my gluten free diet but this dish sure made me jealous! The only negative feedback I got was that poor Muzz ended up wearing a lot of it on his shirt by the end of lunch!
Thanks to its fabulous ocean views and beach front location Blue Duck café is something of an institution in Perth and will always be somewhere I will return to from time to time. Compared to some previous experiences, I had a very enjoyable lunch although would have appreciated more attention to detail with my meal so I didn’t suffer consequences from onion ingestion that night.Blue Duck Café 151 Marine Parade, Cottesloe 6011 | (08) 9385 2499 | www.blueduck.com.au Price: $$$ ($16-26 Entrée, $26-39 Mains) Food: 2.5/5 (fresh ingredients but need to be more careful with diners with allergies) Service: 3/5 (friendly and casual) Ambience: 2.5/5 (awesome view but interior needs urgent work) Drinks: 4/5 (WA focused wine list with good range of choices and some well-loved classics) Total: 12/20
It was New Year’s Day and I woke up a bit weary-headed and totally famished. We had started our New Year’s Eve night off at the Greenhouse enjoying some good tunes, food and company then all continued partying on back at our house after they shut at 2am. The night was made even better because my sister had flown all the way over from Melbourne to join us for the week.
Looking at the casualties scattered around my house that morning it seemed that I was not the only one that was border-lining on starvation either. My sister and I were craving something much more delicious than my fridge could offer us so; accompanied by Big Bones we set off on our search. Unsurprisingly, the boy chose to stay at home nursing his sore head which was a result of the excesses of the prior evening. We had arranged to meet my bestie and her other half at the OBH for some hair-of-the dog drinks later in the evening so we figured head towards the beach and see what we could find.
Not a lot was open around the Claremont area so after some time of driving around we were pleased to see most of the restaurants along the iconic coastal road in Cottesloe were open. Cottesloe beach is internationally renowned for its beauty and lifestyle. Having had many a pleasant breakfast at the beachside café Barchetta before, I convinced everyone to stop in there for a nibble before we recommenced punishing our poor bodies with further frivolities at the Obie.
As we were seated at our table we all realised we were starting to fade fast and were really in desperate need of some sustenance. Our waitress was friendly enough despite the fact she looked like she was suffering from her own post-celebratory pain. She verbally stumbled throughout the whole process of taking our order and she kept repeating herself several times. We ordered some lemon peppered baby calamari but requested for them to be served gluten-free. She warned us the dish wouldn’t taste as nice without the “powder” so we explained to her that we are used to making compromises and we are actually very grateful to the kitchen for willing to adapt. Unfortunately we should have heeded her advice as she was indeed correct, this dish was quite disappointing. The calamari was tasteless without the crumb and was in desperate need for some seasoning of sorts. It was served with a rocket and herb salad which was similarly flavourless and unexciting.
We also ordered the chilled king prawn salad which was served with cherry tomatoes, orange, spinach and crispy pancetta. The prawns were fresh and a decent size, the pancetta wonderfully crispy and crunchy, and the sweet vincotto dressing married perfectly with the addition of juicy pieces of orange. It was a perfectly fresh and uplifting hangover cure.
Big Bones ordered the house made porcini mushroom gnocchi with braised rabbit and chevre cheese. This dish was not exactly what he expected and consisted of a long plate of braised rabbit topped with four gnocchi which were dolloped with the goats’ cheese. The rabbit was apparently quite dry and was in dire need of some more love and attention in its preparation in order to make the most of its delicate flavours. The gnocchi were also a little dry and perhaps not that fresh.
Finally to share we ordered a bowl of cinnamon kumara fries. These were the highlight of the meal, I have never tried the combination of cinnamon with the kumara before and it was a match made in heaven. It was served with a preserved lemon and basil aioli which only made them even more moreish!
Once the food started to line our stomachs, the thoughts of the last night’s overindulgences faded away into a distant memory so we shared a zesty bottle of Mount Langi Ghiran “Cliff Edge” Pinot Gris. With the cool wind gusting around us from the ocean, we sat back and relaxed as someone fossicked around in the sand with her metal detector. I wondered if she would actually find anything of value. Observing her complete lack of expression of her face in the distance, I highly doubt it!
After finishing our meals we sat waiting for over ten minutes to be offered dessert menus and coffees. After seemingly becoming invisible to all staff, Big Bones gestured over to a waitress and requested dessert menus. A further five minutes passed and she forgotten again to bring them over so we had to ask her again. By the time we actually were given the menus in our hot little hands it was getting well into the evening and we were very late for our drinking session across the road. Refuelled we traipsed over the road to recommence our celebrations where we had left off earlier in the wee hours of the morning. We are going to need to do some serious detoxing in the New Year!Price: $$$$ (Entrée $16-24, Mains $25-39) Food: 6.5/10 Service: 3/5 Venue: 4/5 Total = 13.5/20 Barchetta 149 Marina Parade, Cottesloe 6011 | (08) 9385 2411 | http://www.barchetta.com.au/