I don’t know what it is about wet, windy nights that sometimes inspires me to want to leave the comfort of my home and eat out. Mostly when I get these fanciful urges, the Boy will sensibly put his foot down and insist we stay at home where it is warm and dry. However on occasions, for reasons I have yet to pin point, he will sporadically and unpredictably consent to my absurd proposition and off we go together with overcoats and matching umbrellas in hand. Whenever this glorious union in thought occurs, I get disproportionately excited like a child that has just been given an oversized bag of candy. I have to love this guy for always keeping me on my toes!
After a couple of teasing days of sunshine, our Perth weather turned sour and my bizarre desire to head out to a restaurant in the rain returned. I wanted to check out a relatively new bar opened in Applecross called Bad Apples Bar and after enticing the Boy with offers of beer and pizza he willingly accepted.
Bad Apples Bar have plenty of gluten free and vegetarian options which they have kindly indicated on their menu. They also have gluten free pizza bases for a couple of extra dollars on top of the normal pizza price. We started with their grilled haloumi topped with a pineapple salsa and olive crumb. The Boy commented that he thought haloumi and pineapple was an odd combination but I enjoyed the play on salty and sweet flavours it gave.
I rarely order pizzas at restaurants as I am somewhat nervous of the risk of cross contamination of gluten with the non-gluten bases in the same oven. Whilst my sensitivity to gluten is not as severe as some, I still have to ensure to be very careful. Just to be safe, I double checked with our waitress again about Bad Apple’s pizzas and she assured me that the kitchen staff take every precaution. Willing to accommodate the Boy’s vegetarian preferences I ordered us the mushroom pizza on a gluten free base.
The pizza was topped with some rocket pesto, goats cheese and overly zealous lashings of truffle oil. After we had finished eating our pizza, a glimmering puddle of oil remained pooled on our plate. Some restraint from the chef next time would be greatly appreciated!
I was thankful I had also ordered a salad which assisted to wash down some of the oiliness of the pizza. I convinced myself that I was being somewhat healthy by adding in a salad. The warm salad contained pan-fried root vegetables, lentils and chickpeas tossed with spinach and topped with more goats cheese. Crunchy lotus chips garnished the dish giving a little bit of flair and adding a textural contrast.
The Boy and I were having one of those nights where I wanted to finish up the night with cheese, and he wanted something sweet. To settle this debate we decided to flip a coin. Heads for dessert and tails for cheese. I was so keen for a bite of cheese that I stared at that coin so hard, trying to will it to land on tails. “HEADS!” the Boy shouts out. A bet is a bet and he won it fair and square, dessert it is then!
Quite chuffed with himself for winning the Boy chose the vanilla crème brulée to share. This was the only gluten free dessert on the menu. Even better still it came with a small bowl of lemon ginger sorbet to quench his relentless need for frozen desserts. It had a very mild flavour but the custard was silky smooth with the top layer making a satisfying crack of as we hit our spoons.
Bad Apples Bar is a popular venue along Riseley Street’s café strip. Despite the unpleasant weather of that evening, it was still filled with customers and we were actually lucky to secure a table.
Was it worth braving the elements for? Well, the service was bubbly and attentive but the food was a bit of hit and miss. Even though I was happy to eat a rare dinner of pizza, the taste of the excess oil lingered on my palate for most of the drive home. I guess you can’t win ‘em all!
Disclaimer: Whilst Chompchomp may admit that the Boy can sometimes be right, that does not under any circumstances mean she is consequently wrong. It is a perfectly normal desire to want to leave a dry, warm home in search of something better to eat.Bad Apples Bar 6/16 Riseley Street, Ardross WA 6153 | 0430 098 748 | www.badapplesbar.com.au
There are a small handful of restaurants dotted around Perth that I have particularly soft spot for. The mention of their name will always bring a smile to my face and propositions to return will always be met with a resounding yes. Must Wine bar is one of these venues. I have enjoyed countless meals in this classic French bistro with friends and family alike and I feel that I can always depend upon them to deliver polished service and quality dishes. Of course this meant that upon receiving an invitation to return to sample their new Bistro lunch special I was quick to schedule this lunch date in.
Whilst our bistro lunch was kindly on the house, the Boy and I wanted more than just two courses for no other reason than we are greedy. I am not sure what has overcome us both this winter but we have both been eating like there is no tomorrow. We started off with some freshly shucked oysters and Must’s famous chicken liver parfait.
I am a total purist when it comes to my oysters and will always be satisfied if they are served to me natural however the Boy wanted to try something different so we also ordered some Rockefeller oysters grilled with spinach, Pernod cream and Gruyère. Whilst the flavours of the rich cream and Gruyère were luscious, I remained a loyal fan to the naked oysters. Each one of my oysters still had a pool of fresh sea water revealing to me just how freshly shucked they were. Exquisite. A couple of slurps and it was all over.
I have had the pleasure of devouring Must’s chicken liver parfait on many occasions. It has the same smearable smoothness of my mother’s homemade version. Eating it conjures up comforting memories of my childhood at Christmas time when Mum would made enough parfait to feed an army yet there were only three of us. Mind you, it never went to waste.
The Boy was provided with soft slices of toasted brioche however as there was no gluten free equivalent I was happy enough to make do with the rice crackers provided. After sectioning off a non-contaminated gluten free portion for myself I proceeded to get quite excited by my feelings of nostalgia. It wasn’t long before my flying hands has sent the Boy’s water glass tumbling across the table onto his brioche and separate portion of parfait. Ooops! No more brioche for him now!
After a weekend at the Truffle Kerfuffle festival my stomach was craving something simple. I ordered the Sirloin steak with frites and béarnaise sauce; a classic French dish that is one of my French-born father’s favourites. My steak was cooked rare exactly as I had requested and was ever so juicy and flavoursome. The béarnaise sauce was rich and buttery with a lovely sweet aniseed aroma from the fresh tarragon.
The Boy opted for the char-grilled Huon Tasmanian salmon served on a bed of creamy lemon risotto with a fennel and caper salad. His choice was also gluten free allowing me to be able to sneak a couple of mouthfuls as he reached over and simultaneously stole some of my frites. His fish was tender soft with a crispy skinned surface.
For dessert the Boy chose the warm chocolate moelleux with white chocolate ice cream. This wasn’t a gluten free option so I didn’t get to sample its oozing deliciousness. Unlike me, the Boy isn’t a big fan of cakes or puddings and as I crooned over the molten chocolate centre erupting out from the centre he didn’t even bat an eyelid.
Despite being relatively un-fazed by the beauty of chocolate lava, he barely uttered a word as he scooped up spoonful after spoonful until his plate was empty. It was obviously not THAT bad! 😉
After taking all my food photos I proceeded to fall into a similarly silent food trance as I golloped up my own sweet treat. Trust a French bistro like Must to excel at making a stellar brulée.
I loved the layering of textures commencing with a crisp sesame snap on top of smooth raspberry sorbet leading to a translucently thin coating of caramel and finally ending in the smoothest of custard base.
After allowing ourselves to be blissfully ignorant to the world while we feasted in the warmth of the restaurant, it was hard to imagine that we had to return back to the real world of boring Saturday chores and errands. Knowing I still needed the energy to get through a big list before the day was over I ordered my usual coffee; a short macchiato. And of course I didn’t need to say to our waiter “not topped up”, these guys know what a REAL short mac is!
Must Wine bar are offering an $80 bistro lunch for two special which includes two courses with a glass of wine for two people. The menu is changed daily and customers have the choice of ordering an entrée and main, or a main and dessert. This special will run 7 days a week until November this year. Booking are recommended.Chompchomp was an invited guest of Must Wine bar and received the $80 bistro lunch for two as a gift. She was in no way obliged to write a favourable review in exchange for this free feed. Being the over-indulgent person she is, a two course lunch wasn’t sufficient enough for her large appetite and she was happy to pay for her additional dishes at the above indicated prices. Must Wine bar 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 8255 | www.must.com.au
We had only been back in Perth from our tropical holiday in Vietnam for 24 hours and yet we were at it again. Eating. Although we covered a fair bit of ground exploring Vietnam and seeing all the sights, the thing that we did most was eat food. All the food. We both have a shared habit of overeating whilst on holidays and this holiday won hands down for being the feast of the century. Consequently, on our journey homeward there was a lot of talk between us about juice fasts, diets and eating a lot less in general. But old habits die-hard and after running around on some errands in City we found ourselves at The Heritage for a late afternoon lunch.
I am a girl who loves her French champagne however I could hardly say that Moet is my favourite. In fact, I have been known on occasion after drinking a glass or two of a more refined champagne to bad mouth it. The Heritage serve glasses of Moet priced at a very drinkable $15 a glass so despite my tendency to champagne snobbery I could hardly say no. We paired it with a dozen freshly shucked oysters from Frankland Harbour in South Australia. Served perfectly with wedges of fresh lemon and Tabasco sauce, each mouthful slipped down our gullet leaving us with a breath of fresh sea air.
I was craving salad like a health freak and consequently got a bit over excited ordering us a couple of options. Considering the serving size they were all very decently priced ranging from $9-17. The green salad came with plump grilled mushrooms, avocado and asparagus and although it wasn’t much to look at it hit the spot for me. Fresh herbs such as mint and parsley were generously tossed through giving considerable flavour. When placing our order I forgot to mention to our waitress that I cannot eat onion but the pieces were large enough for me to pick out.
The richly coloured salmon was cured in-house with sugar, salt and spices before being smoked with hickory chips giving a buttery smooth texture and subtle sweet, smoky after-taste. It was perched atop of slice of sweet watermelon and dotted with salmon roe, microherbs and watermelon foam.
Initially we had good intentions to exhibit portion control and planned to just order ourselves a couple of light dishes however our holiday binge eating had effectively stretched the size of our stomachs and our waistlines. This meant that after finishing off our oysters, the salmon and all the salads we were still left wanting more.
Another round of champagne seemed like a wise idea and so to go with our drinks we ordered the somewhat healthy “Grand Platter” which comes with four oysters, four scallops and four prawns to share along with some dipping sauces and seaweed salad. I was informed that the sauces were all gluten free but the seaweed salad was not.
The prawns were small, brightly coloured and crunchy fresh. One of our tests to assess the freshness of a prawn is to suck out the head. A prawn head from a super fresh specimen is an absolute culinary delight; do not knock it until you have tried it. Do however make sure you avoid trying this with a not-so-fresh critter as you will be unlikely to want to attempt it again.
Having dessert at the end of a meal is another hard habit to break and I blame my Mum for inheriting her sweet tooth. I struggle to finish a meal on a savoury note and this was no exception. After a small amount of to-ing and fro-ing by our waitress to the kitchen to determine what desserts were gluten free, I was advised to order the crème brûlée.
Crème brûlée is one of my favourite desserts and I’m so lucky that it is usually gluten free. The Heritage’s version is a reasonable sized serve and could have easily been shared between the two of us. The custard was set beautifully and ended with a creamy finish.
The Boy predictably chose the selection of house made sorbets and ice cream for his dessert. He is never really a dessert person unless it’s ice cream. Or so he keeps telling me. That didn’t seem to stop him from helping finish off my overly generous serve of luscious brûlée.
The Heritage is a lovely mix of the formality and classiness characteristic of their neighbours Print Hall and The Trustee with a more casual styled and priced menu. Their fresh faced staff are enthusiastic and helpful and I look forward to returning.For the 2014 Eat Drink Perth Festival, The Heritage will be holding a Wine Maker’s Dinner with food matched with Champagne from Piper & Charles Heidsieck on Tuesday 8th April 2014 at 6.30pm. Price is $149 per person for a three course dinner with matched champagne. Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival 2014. This meal at The Heritage is not sponsored and I paid for it in full. www.theheritageperth.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $15-36, Mains $29-41) Food: 3.5/5 (classic and comforting European dishes with a modern twist) Service: 4/5 (very attentive and welcoming) Ambience: 4/5 (classy, classic and with character) Drinks: 4/5 (number of very affordable Australian & French wines ) Total: 15.5 /20
It is safe to presume that most people have been invited to a party for birthdays, engagements, Christmas and the like. Even food festivals get their own launch party these days. Cake clubs happen around the world on a daily basis and I am going to a blogger’s celebration of pork belly this week.
But have you ever heard of a party thrown specifically for an apple? Yes, that’s right. A party for a piece of fruit.
Well neither had I and when I received an invitation to Jazz Apple’s Taste the Crunch cocktail event at Bistro Guillaume I cannot deny that my first instinct was to politely decline. You see, although apples are gluten free and therefore entirely safe for me to eat, they are also full of fructose. Whilst fructose definitely won’t kill me I do get some rather unpleasant after-effects from indulging in it. The Boy does not suffer from fructose malabsorption and was conversely quite excited at the opportunity to attend. We grow apples in our own suburban backyard on cute little dwarf apple trees and he is a passionate green thumb. He was keen to see what sort of apple gets its own party. Being a loyal wife I agreed to attend the apple party with him.
The Jazz apple is a relatively new variety of apple which experienced a sell-out season last year. This year they are looking at having the biggest bumper crop to date and their producers in WA wanted to celebrate in style. A number of Perth foodies were invited to join them for a night of apple enhanced food and beverages.
The entire restaurant at Bistro Guillaume was adorned in hundreds of fresh Jazz apples while a groovy two piece jazz band beebopped away loudly.
Knowing that I was going to eat apple I prepared myself by chowing down a handful of glucose tablets. Glucose can, to a degree, help my gut absorb some fructose however this is only to a point. The bartenders busily worked away make a variety of elegant apple cocktails of which the apple Martini was my favourite, of course! 😉
The kitchen staff churned out plate after plate of Jazz apple laced morsels such as pork belly, salmon tartare and duck with pea purée. Each delectable mouthful ended with the sweet aftertaste of Jazz apple. The chef even made some gluten free adapted, apple topped crème brûlée just for me!
Although the amount of food provided was very generous I had to hold back somewhat as I knew if I got too carried away I was in for some serious fructose overload! At the end of the night on our way out we were given a show bag containing a six-pack of Jazz apples. I planned to take them into my work colleagues the following day to test them out.
Before heading home the Boy and I dropped into Rockpool for a quick bite to eat. It was easy getting a table and the waitstaff were very quick and attentive. I ordered my favourite of steak tartare however I was informed that the fat chips are cooked in the same oil as gluten containing foods so they are regrettably not gluten free. The Boy was more than happy to oblige by eating them for me. The steak tartare was reliably amazing; I have ordered this umpteen times and never been disappointed. Soft, nearly creamy in texture I got to enjoy every meaty mouthful to myself.
The Boy ordered the marron which was served with lightly poached plum, fennel purée, olives and a mint gel. His dish was nearly sweet enough to pass off as dessert and although I was happy with my carnivorous choice I did look on in envy.
No visit to Rockpool is complete without an order of their wonderful sides and I noticed a new one had appeared on the menu that I hadn’t seen before. It was described as wood fired grilled creamed corn with chipotle chilli butter and Manchego cheese. To be honest, all I needed to see was the mention of Manchego cheese and I was sold. Add in the flavour profiles of subtle smoke and spicy chipotle and it effectively turned this simple dish of creamed corn into a taste sensation.
On our way through the lobby to catch a taxi home we accidentally walked past the lobby lounge bar where there was a cake stand full of macarons on the counter. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Before I knew it I had bought one of every flavour as the Boy rolled his eyes at me. What a good man, he knows never to come between his wife and a macaron.
The next day at work I took in the Jazz apples and got the following verdict from my apple munching colleagues:“It reaches every taste-bud in my mouth and makes them go pop-pop-pop.” “It’s a party in my mouth” “It has a good balance between tart and sweet and the skin is as much a part of the apple eating experience as the flesh”
Love my work mates…thanks guys! 😉Chompchomp attended Bistro Guillaume as a guest of Jazz Apple. We paid for our meal at Rockpool in full. Bistro Guillaume Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood | (08) 9362 7551 | www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au www.rockpool.com/rockpool-bar-and-grill-perth www.crownperth.com.au/bars/bars/lobby-lounge/about
At my business we run an externship with the veterinary students every year which gives us the opportunity to put them through their paces. It provides a great way for them to gain further experience and confidence before they head out into the big wide world of employment. It is often during these externships that certain individuals shine and a couple of years back one of these externships led to our decision to offer the student a job.
Since officially joining our team, she has continued to impress us all with her standard of knowledge and dedication to her career. There have been many nights she has stayed back late with no complaints, come in on her days off and pitched in to help others without being asked. She is a valued team member who appears to be fast tracking herself to success. As a token of our appreciation I took her out for dinner with a couple of my business partners.
Thankfully she is also a foodie so I gave her a list of a couple of restaurants to let her choose the venue. She chose one of her favourites; Nine Fine Food. This was my second time returning to Nine Fine Food after visiting them earlier in the year with my dearest blogging friends. Most of my photos from this first visit didn’t turn out very well due to my excessive consumption of espresso martinis at an event prior. My shaking, caffeinated hands produced a number of quite interesting artefacts however very few of the resulting photos were what I would call “blog worthy”. I was keen for a second chance to get it right.
In addition to their standard menu, Nine Fine Food offers two set menus: “Tokutoku” a three course meal for $53 per person or “Osusume” which is four courses for $63. We all chose the Tokutoku. I remembered from my last visit that Nine Fine Food provide gluten free soy and was chuffed that I didn’t need to bring along my own. It is these small things that make me happy. I had the fresh sashimi for my entrée and noticed that my serve was considerably smaller than when I had previously ordered it off the à la carte menu. This made sense as the à la carte version is $10 more expensive than the remainder of the entrée options. Each carefully sliced piece of fish was delicate enough to give that melt-in-the-mouth amazingness that will always elicit a moan of pleasure from me as it hits my tongue. Fresh sashimi is surely one of my favourite things.
During my previous visit I ordered the confit duck leg and this dish is quite a treat so I was excited to see that Chris ordered it. It was a hard decision for me to not order it again as I know how good it is but I was determined to try something new. The duck is marinated in five-spice and served with lightly grilled scallops, sweet potato mash, a tempura onion ring and pumpkin purée. A ruby-red reduction made from red wine and mirin wine splashed contrasting colour against the mash across her plate. Jealous!
Gluten free mains choices are limited as many of the meats are pre-marinated in sauces containing gluten. The chef seemed more than obliging to adapt things for me however so I ordered the salmon and scallops. The Atlantic salmon was cooked in two ways; one piece was roasted and one was lightly fried. It was served with some grilled scallops topped with tobiko caviar on a bed of citrusy Yuzu mascarpone. The normal gluten version also contains a panko fried mixed seafood cake which was omitted for me. Vibrant edamame, pomegranate seeds and fresh grapes decorated the plate adding interesting little bombs of flavour and colour.
The “pork and pork” dish is not for the faint hearted and I would only recommend it for genuine pork lovers. The three different presentations of pork made this the perfect dish for my meat loving, veggie hating South African business partner. A sizable cube of twice cooked, milk braised pork belly accompanied slices of tender grilled pork fillet and some tempura bacon. Yes, you heard right, I said tempura bacon. Now I don’t really get into my pork but THAT was enough to make me swoon. The day I find somewhere that can make me gluten free tempura….it’s game on. Fry me some bacon!
Our star team member of the night ordered the “chicken and lamb”. This was a dish containing multiple interesting elements including some marinated crunchy kara-age chicken, poached chicken breast, grilled lamb fillets and portions of vegetable cake. A sweet syrupy balsamic soy dressing was drizzled over the tender pieces of lamb to finish things off.
I cannot go past any matcha flavoured desserts, they really are the bomb. Even just your run of the mill, matcha ice-cream will get me excited despite not being the biggest ice-cream fan. During my first visit to Nine Fine Food I was introduced to matcha brûlée and despite the food blogger within me chanting that I already HAD a good photo of this dessert meaning I should order something different to give you dear readers more food porn to drool over…..I ordered it again.
And it was so good!
And I’m not sorry.
The others all ordered the Kuro Goma gelato which is made from black sesame. Chris also opted for the additional chocolate banana roll which cost an extra $5. Her plate looked something like a dessert garden with fresh fruit scattered about for decoration.
Nine Fine Food is exceedingly good value for both the quality of the food and service. Even better still, they are a BYO restaurant leaving you with the only drama being what wine to choose to match with your food. Unfortunately many of their beautiful dishes are not naturally gluten free and they require some degree of adaptation resulting in components being removed and not replaced. Hopefully as the chef has now made the move to offering gluten free soy to diners, he will soon move to offering more gluten free dishes that do not require changing to accommodate for people like us.Nine Fine Food 227-229 Bulwer Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9227 9999 | www.ninefinefood.com.au Price: $$ (Entrees $16-18, Mains $34, 3 course set $53) Food: 7/10 (would have scored higher if more GF options) Service: 3.5/5 (discrete and unobtrusive, the let to food take the stage Ambience: 3.5/5 (moody, dim-lit and quite romantic) Drinks: BYO Total: 14/20
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
People come and go in your life; sometimes through your own choosing and sometimes due to circumstances out of your control. Their departure can often be filled with all sorts of mixed emotions but when you know that their decision is a good one for them personally it makes saying goodbye so much easier. We recently bade goodbye to a dear friend and colleague who is entering a new chapter in their life; one that I’m certain will give them the security and happiness they deserve. To bid him farewell, we dined at the Kailis Bros Fish Café, Leederville for a simple, fresh seafood meal.
I had spent the earlier part of the day at Feral Brewery for lunch for a friend’s baby shower and was grateful there were many light options on the menu. I was informed that many of the dishes could be adapted to be gluten free as they only involved simple ingredients while relying on the freshness of the seafood to take centre stage.
For entrée I started with the herb and garlic crusted scallops with fresh chill. Kailis’s Bros support sourcing local produce and their scallops are West Australian, from either up North in Carnarvon or from the icy water of Esperance depending on the time of year. Each lightly browned scallop was a delicate, tender pillow of flavour and my notion that I was too full from my lunch passed from my consciousness as I plopped each morsel into my mouth in quick succession. The Boy made a little underhanded comment at my speed of eating which I can only presume meant he wished that I saved him one! His consolation prize was getting to mop up the remaining garlic juices on my plate with his garlic bread instead.
The Boy couldn’t see any vegetarian meals on the menu and so he reluctantly ordered the octopus “a la grec”. For this dish the octopus is carefully simmered in red wine and then grilled. Having recently been very spoilt with some mind blowing “pulpo” in Barcelona I was interested to see how Kailis’s version matched up. After just one mouthful I was left wishing I had ordered this dish instead of my scallops. There was no chewiness or rubbery texture; each piece was as soft and as tender as I recall it being in Spain.
Our guest of honour ordered the grilled New Zealand flounder which he explained was a common dish he ate during his childhood. Having not eaten it in decades he took a bit of a gamble trying to rehash an old school favourite but thankfully he was not disappointed. The fish was served whole with a “latho lemano” dressing which is a traditional Greek baste made with lemon juice, olive oil, wild Greek oregano and a dash of fresh ground black pepper. The meat flaked away off the bone easily and despite this fish’s huge size our friend managed to slowly but deliberately work his way through the lot.
For my main I both ordered the pan seared Tasmanian salmon with a sweet & sour tamarind glaze, sautéed baby corn and bok choy. I was impressed to see the kitchen staff take gluten contamination seriously and ensured my fish was grilled on a separate fresh grill. Not all eating establishments have this level of understanding for what is needed to ensure there is no gluten in their food. The salmon skin was super crispy whilst the steak was just past the point of being rare making it lusciously soft. The tamarind sauce was a touch too sweet for my liking and needed a tiny bit more balance with its other key elements of sourness and spiciness.
We also ordered a few sides to fill in the gaps including crunchy roasted Royal Blue potatoes with wild oregano and sea salt, a green leaf salad with shaved Reggiano parmesan and cracked black pepper and some sautéed seasonal vegetables with tarragon butter. The potatoes were crisp on the outside with a lovely soft centre and were one of the first things to be finished at our table.
Just when we thought we had no room left for sweets, our waitress came over to our table with their daily selection of desserts. She advised us that all their desserts are made in house fresh each day by their dedicated pastry chef.
Once again bursting at the seams I wondered to myself if I would ever gain the ability to exhibit self-control at this point of the evening. I dismissed such a crazy idea and chose the lemon and lime crème brûlée to share with the Boy. Other options included a tiramisu, sticky date pudding and a couple of other more creative looking options. Our choice was a hit all around the table with each couple sharing one brûlée between each other. A well rounded night out indeed.
I have always found Kailis Brothers Fish Café to reliably satisfy me at every visit. They maintain their reputation by staying true to themselves serving the freshest of seafood with minimal fuss. They promote West Australian produce in particular and remain in my humble opinion one of the best providers of fresh seafood in Perth to the public.Kailis Brothers Fish Café 101 Oxford Street, Leederville WA 6007 | (08) 9443 6300 | www.kailisbrosleederville.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrée $12.50-26.50, Mains $27-48) Food: 4/5 (exceedingly fresh seafood needs minimal additional work) Service: 3.5/5 (friendly and welcoming but a bit slow on the drinks service) Ambience: 3.5/5 (busy, loud and non-pretentious) Drinks: 4/5 (a proudly WA heavy wine list with a good selection by the glass) Total: 15/20
Although I would prefer to experience the summer heat over the winter chills any day there is one major highlight of the winter months: the truffle season. From the very beginning of the truffle season I start searching for events, dinners and menus that feature this delicacy and have been known to get a bit obsessed. We don’t often buy voucher meals as I rarely find them to be good value but I couldn’t resist when I spotted a Groupon for a five course truffle degustation for two for only $129 at Friends Restaurant at the Hyatt.
When I called up to make a booking I found that there were very few options available for voucher holders as we couldn’t book on weekends or book when there was any theatre playing. Despite calling to make our booking shortly after purchasing the voucher, I was informed rather abruptly that there were only a couple of nights available. I enquired if my meal could be adapted to be gluten free and was told there would be no problem with this it would just mean I received a different dessert.
The interior of the restaurant is in serious need of updating with the carpet reminiscent of the seventies and a dusty looking faux tree in the centre of the restaurant lit up with fairy lights. The walls were adorned with Awards from a similar yesteryear with most of them at least a decade old.
Within minutes of being seated, the Boy was offered a selection of breads and our waitress offered some gluten free bread for me. I thought this was a good start to the evening and didn’t expect somewhere old fashioned like this to have gluten free bread available. Our vegetable soup arrived promptly afterwards and although it was indeed creamy, there was not much grated truffle to be seen. I squinted at black specks at the bottom of my bowl and figured they must have been it. I nibbled on one and found there was no familiar truffle after taste.
Our entrée of citrus cured Tasmanian salmon was served with pickled black truffle and carrot, Dijonnaise and a blue swimmer crab and mascarpone salad. The Boy commented that the style of plating was a little on the old fashioned side but in defence the ingredients were all fresh. I struggled to taste any truffle flavour in this dish either.
This evening occurred shortly before the Boy’s recent conversion to vegetarianism and it may very well go down on record as one of the last beef dishes he ever ate. Buttery soft beef cheeks had been braised to a delicate tenderness and again the dish was plated with utmost nineties styled precision. The accompanying truffle mash had an obvious truffle aroma and as he started to tuck into his I was keen to see what my gluten free alternative was.
Alas I was soon to be disappointed. Bear in mind I had specifically chosen this meal as a truffle degustation and I didn’t think I would be expecting too much to want truffle with each course. Instead for my main I received a relatively overcooked piece of fish, I think it was snapper but I cannot recall precisely, which was served with pesto beans. I eyed off the Boy’s dish enviously as he savoured every mouthful.
Our cheese course was a wedge of truffled brie served with a fig terrine, crackers, caramelised nuts and a couple of celery sticks. Yes, you heard right. Celery sticks. Am I crazy for thinking this was a bit weird? I asked our waitress if she thought it was strange and she looked at me like I was the crazy one.
My cheese course came with a muffin of gluten free bread as a replacement for the crackers. Whilst the cheese was not served at room temperature and remained a little too firm, the truffle centre finally gave me the taste of truffle I had been waiting the whole meal for.
As if my envy for the Boy’s succulent beef cheeks wasn’t anguish enough for me, out came his dessert; a shining glossy chocolate and banana mousse cake with honey comb crumbles and strawberry coulis. Scooped at the end of his plate was a neat ball of truffle ice cream. More truffles. I knew I was going to miss out again. Sigh.
My crème brûlée was by no means anything to complain about. Except it had no truffle. The crispy top layer was millimetres thin and cracked rewardingly with gentle pressure from my spoon to reveal smooth creaminess beneath.
We found the service at Friends to be highly efficient border-lining on serious with each waitress whizzing around the dining room floor with exact precision. Each course with its matched wine was timed like a well-played Tetris game never leaving us hungry, waiting or thirsty. If you enjoy old school fine dining then this is the place for you.Friends Restaurant 20 Terrace Road, Hyatt Centre, East Perth WA 6004 | 08 9221 0885 | http://www.friendsrestaurant.com.au/ Price: $$$$ (Truffle Tasting menu normally $125 per person, 10 course degustation $155) Food: 3/5 (Highs: beef cheeks and chocolate mousse cake. Lows: overcooked fish) Service: 4.5/5 (faultless but serious) Ambience: 2/5 (dining room in desperate need of a zoozsh) Drinks: 3.5/5 (good selection of matches, I particularly enjoyed the Zema Estate Coonawarra Cab Sauv 2009) Total: 13/20
There are many memories I have about food from my childhood and most of those involve my father. Like many Frenchman he appreciates quality over quantity and cringes at the idea of ordering food from children’s menus. He believes that kids have just as much right to taste the finer food in life as the adults do. Growing up I was the child that was always keen to eat anything whereas my sister was exceedingly fussy. My dad embraced having a least one child with the same attitude to food as him and from a young age had me eating snails, sashimi and oysters amongst other delicacies.
One of my favourite restaurants he would take me to was a Teppanyaki restaurant located near his house in Prahran, Melbourne. Japanese cuisine was yet to take off back in Adelaide making this theatrical dining experience so new and entertaining to my young and impressionable mind. Since then Japanese in all its styles; sushi bars, Izakaya and Teppanyaki BBQs have taken off like a rocket in popularity to become commonplace and finding one that can maintain enough balance of tradition with modern flair isn’t that easy. Fuku Omakase Teppanyaki is located next door to the popular Tsunami in Mosman Park and has been a restaurant on my wish list since its opening about eight months ago.
We have visited their sister restaurant Tsunami many times and although we haven’t returned for a few years I have never been disappointed with a meal there yet. So when I received an invitation to attend their bloggers dinner at Fuku it was an offer just too good to refuse. Fuku offer a degustation style menu, or omakase as the Japanese call it. There are three options: the “Good” which is $100 for 4 courses, the “Better” which costs $135 for 8 courses or the “Best” which is $220 for 10 courses. You can also choose to have matched sake from their impressive wall of bottles for $75 per person.
On arrival you get the feeling you are about to be part of something special. An intercom button must be pressed at the front door to gain entry upon which glass sliding doors automatically open to let you into the restaurant. We were openly greeted by our hosts for the evening owner Brett Carboni and his manager Milan and shown to our seats. Warm lighting and a single row of chairs facing the two Teppanyaki BBQs made this feel like a very intimate experience and immediately my mind started ticking over what celebration of sorts I could plan here. The Boy’s 40th is only a few years away……food for thought. Literally!
Gary our chef for the evening was so humble and gracious and I warmed to him immediately. He patiently answered all our annoying bloggers questions regarding each dishes details and took due care that my meals remained gluten free. Our first course was presented in a lacquered bento box reminiscent of Nobu and contained gorgeous little flash-fried Kawa Ebi and some crunchy sun-dried nori. Kawa Ebi are pint sized freshwater shrimp and tasted similar to the fried school prawns we recently tried at The Stables Bar. These crispy morsels are eaten whole as easily as a bowl of pretzels. Washed down with some sake my hopes were high for a night of feasting for the eyes and the palate.
Being someone who apparently borderlines on OCD at times, I love the perfection and neatness of Japanese food. Everything is presented so immaculately and without clutter or messiness. Our second course contained four carefully plated elements. The standard dish contained slivers of soft Wagyu beef with a sweet white sesame dressing, some marinated red emperor with octopus, a tempura oyster with a refreshing ginger salsa and the most curious addition that initially I mistook for a garnish; soba noodle tempura.
The noodle tempura was fashioned like a cherry blossom tree and looked almost too pretty to eat. Although as crunchy as uncooked pasta it had great flavour I found myself not only munching through mine but stealing the Boys “tree trunk” and munching that too. For my gluten free version the tempura oyster was replaced with a meaty scampi topped with some tobiko.
No Japanese meal is complete without sashimi. Absolute freshness is key as its raw simplicity leaves little room for disguise with sauces and other gimmicks. Chef Gary recommended starting with the snapper with Japanese pickle to clear our palates first allowing maximum appreciation of the remaining pieces. Both the tuna and the salmon dissolved on contact with the tongue and both the Boy and I groaned simultaneously in delight.
Having to have my meals adapted to be gluten free means one of two outcomes; I’m either jealous for what I miss out on, or others around me are jealous for my substitution. You never know which way it will go. The rest of the guests were served quail with Szechuan sauce wrapped in a soba bean pancake. The quails are farmed organically in the Hunter Valley and are supposed to be the biggest quails in the world. Not that that makes them gigantic by any dimensions I’m sure.
As I watched everyone eat their dishes with gusto, I hoped my gluten alternative gave me the same level of eye rolling pleasure. I watched the chef chop up a lamb cutlet in a flash of knives in eager anticipation. It was served with a potato galette and a ball of grated beetroot flavoured with cinnamon and sugar. Now it’s easy to imagine tuna sashimi dissolving in the mouth but have you had that experience with lamb? Each cube disintegrated like butter leaving the sweet taste of miso sauce lingering on my tongue. My manners went out the window and I picked up the bone with my fingers and I gnawed off every last bit of meat.
While some guests were a little nervous at the concept of eating a prawn head, I reassured them that once you have tried them you will never go back. The subtle flavours of prawn meat are humbled by the intensity of the head and my family all consider it somewhat of a delicacy. This dish was served with uni butter which is made from sea urchins. Rich and decadent, uni butter is like the foie gras of the sea and imparted a luscious complex depth of flavour.
As the fish of the day was being prepared, owner Brett commented with a little snigger that this dish was one of the more amusing dishes of the evening. I caught a glimpse of the cheeky glint in his eye as our dish was presented to us.
As I turned to look at our plates the penny dropped. I’m not sure I will be able to look at eggplant in the same light again! It brought several giggles to the table and made the Boy pause for a few seconds before he could bring himself to eat it. The fish of the day was a wedge of swordfish served with a Japanese citrus (Yuzu) and miso sauce.
The final main course allowed our chefs to show us the real entertainment of Teppanyaki style dining. It was hard to catch all the action on film as fast flashes of flames, knives and food were expertly flicked and chopped across the hot plate. The Wagyu beef is the real McCoy sourced from the award winning Mayura Station; one of the top producers in the country.
Having had the chance to eat “real” Wagyu recently at Waku Ghin in Singapore I feel like I can truly appreciate how eye-boggling amazing this meat can be. Whilst this was not in the ball park of the brilliance we ate in Singapore, the buttery cut was still mind blowing and this quality is not one you will find easily here in Perth. (PS My Waku Ghin review is on its way!!)
My final course was a cute collection of a vanilla crème brûlée, a warmed molten chocolate drink, curious mountain peach and a plume of wasabi foam. I am a little biased with my opinion on things like wasabi foam. I have been known to mix wasabi with foods like Camembert and Lindt chocolate just to see what it’s like and ended up loving it so it comes as no surprise the wasabi foam rocked my world. The brûlée had a thin crackable top with a smooth underbelly and the peach was unusually refreshing.
The other guests enjoyed their gluteny dessert of a Yuzu cheesecake. Yuzu is Japanese citrus fruit that is tart in flavour much like a grapefruit. This dish was also served with the chocolate drink, wasabi foam and mountain peach.
And so the journey came to an end. Fuku was everything I imagined it to be and I was left feeling a warm glow of happiness I get from a truly satisfying degustation. I look forward to splashing out on the “Best” menu sometime in the future! A big thank you to Brett, Milan and Gary for providing the Boy and I with such an enjoyable evening.Fuku – Omakase and Teppanyaki 20 Glyde Street, Mosman Park WA 6012 | 0403 470 964 | http://thefuku.com/
Chompchomp dined as a guest of Fuku. 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 complementary. When I return incognito for the “Best” dego I may give a score.
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.
One of the most frustrating things about being a business owner is losing a good staff member. What makes it even harder is when not only are you sad to see them leave the business but you know you will also miss them as a friend. As a final bid farewell to one of our valued team members we all made the trek to the Swan Valley on a sunny Sunday to The Cheese Barrel. There was a great turn out and we all made ourselves comfortable in the downstairs area on the abundance of couches and cushions.
Located next door to Olive Farm Wines just off Great Northern Highway, The Cheese Barrel has a tremendous menu of cheese from all around the world. They have themed cheese boards such as “Blue Lovers Paradise” or “Soft Cheese Sensation” or alternatively you can order a regional board from Australia, France, Spain or Italy. For those more specific with their cheesy needs individual cheeses can be purchased in 50 gram portions or larger.
My head nurse ordered the Tarago Shadows of Blue, a mild blue mould cheese made with cow’s milk from Gippsland, Victoria. This was one of my favourite cheeses of the day; rich and creamy with a slight tang. Despite the large 100gm serving, this cheese was one of the first to disappear. I even caught a few who proclaimed they don’t like blue cheese sneaking back sheepishly for seconds.
I will be travelling to Barcelona in eight weeks on conference so I thought I’d break away from my French roots and get myself into the flamenco mood. When it comes to cheese I am highly patriotic to my French ancestry however there are a number of Spanish cheeses I shamelessly hold very close to my heart. Or should I say mouth.
The first cheese on this platter was a semi-hard goat’s cheese Murcia Al Vino. This was quite unlike anything I have had before. It has a really creamy flavour yet its texture is elastic and almost buoyant. The rind is a rich plum colour due to being washed in wine giving an interesting fruity after-taste The second cheese on the platter is one I am all too familiar with and love very dearly; Manchego. This versatile semi-hard sheep cheese is one of my all-time favourites and has the distinctive sweet flavour typical of sheep’s cheese. I received gluten free crackers on the side however there was still bread on my platter. To avoid contamination I suggest they avoid mixing the two on the same platter.
Moving around to the second half of the cheese board were two cow’s milk cheeses. The Queso San Simon is a semi-hard smoked cheese from the north-west of Spain. The smoky flavours are quite subtle and delicate and it also has a surprisingly creamy texture for a semi-hard cheese. The blue cheese on the Spanish plate is the Queso Valdeon. I recall trying this for the first time at Clarke’s of North Beach last year with the in-laws. This time the Valdeon tasted like it needed to be left to come to room temperature for another half hour as the flavours were somewhat dulled. It was definitely overshadowed by the creamy deliciousness of the Tarago Shadows of Blue.
Not being familiar with any Olive Farm wines, I ordered an Olive Farm “Wine Flight” to accompany my cheese. Each wine was carefully matched to each cheese to enhance the experience. I’m not going to pretend I know how to describe wines and I’m sure the Olive Farm have done a better job on their tasting notes!
Some of the girls ordered the Soft Cheese Sensation board which was sadly also served a little too cold. It almost seemed like sacrilege to see heroes like La Buche D’Affinois and Brillat-Savarin served firm and erect with minimal shine in their centres. The pernickety side of me also noticed spelling errors on the menu, another minor oversight perhaps.
I am told the macarons were the bomb. They are imported from France, cost $2.20 each and are worth every cent. I totally regret not trying them. At this point our party started to disband with a few of us keen to carry on the festivities. Reluctant to continue drinking this far from home with my car I attempted to convince them all to head into the city but to no avail. Eventually they opted to remain in the valley and I headed home. Not wanting my day to end once I got home I persuaded the Boy to walk down to one of our locals The Balmoral pub to carry on drinking.
Walking down the Albany Highway rekindled my appetite and by the time we arrived at The Balmoral I was super hungry. There were only limited share dishes available gluten free so we shared two serves of the scallops served in the shell topped with chorizo and marinated red pepper. The scallops were fairly small but soft and tender however the chorizo was flavourless and fatty.
Trying to pace myself so I could fit in desert I ordered a light meal for dinner; the char-grilled quail salad. The plump bird was served juicy and pink. The bed of salad was scantly tossed with some occasional crisp prosciutto, warm potatoes and mixed greens. A little more of the flavoursome ingredients wouldn’t have gone astray in this dish.
The Boy has been trying to move away from eating red meat but the lure of a steak at a pub is hard work. This time round he came very close to ordering the Surf and Turf before once again stopping himself and choosing the warm lamb and quinoa salad. His salad arrived at the table piled high on his plate with a generous serving of shredded lamb, spinach, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds feta, dried figs and a subtle hint of mint. The word salad never conjures up thought that the meal would be filing but thanks to the higher protein content of quinoa he was so full that he nearly talked me out of ordering dessert.
I said nearly. After a couple of months of carefully watching what I ate, now there is no holding me back! The white chocolate and bailey crème brûlée sounded like it would be the perfect way to end a long day of eating and drinking. Unfortunately it was a bit of a disappointment. It tasted very bland with no evidence of any white chocolate or baileys flavours at all. The vanilla ice cream was icy and super sweet.
The Boy defaulted back to his one of his favourites for dessert; the ice cream sundae. Those of you who know him well understand that ice cream is to him what chocolate is to me. His sundae looked like something out of the eighties, and was served with three dishes of sauces; dark chocolate, berry coulis and “butterscotch sauce”. The butterscotch sauce had an odd khaki green colour to it and tasted like molten treacle. It was meant to be topped with nuts and chocolate shavings but there was barely half stingy a teaspoon sprinkled on top. Not a recommended dish even for kids.
Overall the Balmoral is a great casual pub to pop in for a local drink with your mates. There are two courtyards outside and they always have a great vibe and it is the perfect place to enjoy a sun downer in summer. Their food is trying to lift its game above basic pub fare with a few hits and misses along the way.The Cheese Barrel
920 Great Northern Highway, Millendon, WA 6056 | (08) 9296 4539 | http://www.thecheesebarrel.com.au/Price: $ Food: 2.5/5 (astounding list available, but needs to be served at the right temperature) Service: 3/5 (quick, helpful) Ambience: 3/5 (overlooks a small patch of forested reserve) Drinks: 3/5 (only tried a few wines) Total: 11.5/20 The Balmoral Hotel 901 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park 6100 | (08) 9355 4533 | http://www.thebalmoral.com.au/ Price: $$$ (Entrees $7-23, Mains $22-35, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 2.5/5 () Service: 2.5/5 (our waitress was lovely…but very forgetful) Ambience: 3/5 (casual pub vibe) Drinks: 3/5 (the essentials) Total: 11/20
This winter I have had a terrible time with my allergies. My knuckles are often cracked and bleeding and my face can just erupt into hives without any real warning. What has made it all even more upsetting and frustrating is that I cannot seem to identify my triggers. I know very well I cannot touch gluten, but to complicate things I also seem to flare up if I have too much dairy or soy. The problem with those allergens is I can actually have a small amount, says a small piece of cheese or a couple of splashes of soy sauce and I’ll be fine. But if I have loads of cheese, or if I eat a gluten free muffin with soy flour…..scratch, scratch, scratch ALL night for days on end.
Eczema sufferers will empathise with this. When your skin is bad, you become overwhelmingly self-conscious of your appearance such that all you want to do is hide away in a dark cellar where no one can see you. You are so sleep deprived, distracted and on edge because you just cannot stop that burning desire to scratch even though your damaged skin is weeping and sore. With my up and coming wedding, my anxiety levels heightened even more; I don’t want to be a blotchy scabby bride! My mind was in a dark and not so attractive place all week, and so it was a complete relief to learn the Bonsai Restaurant in Northbridge not only have gluten free soy available, but have much of their menu easily adaptable to accommodate for difficult people like myself. Praying for dim lighting I made a partially successful attempt at covering up my skin with some makeup and headed out with the Boy.
To try and get myself in a better mood I started off with ordering some sparkling Yuki sake. The waitress described this drink as Bonsai’s take on an alcoholic bubble tea. In the brief time we sat waiting for our drinks, I envisioned a glass of amber coloured liquid with clear balls of jelly floating around curiously. What arrived was not what I expected and looked like nothing more than some lemon soda in a wine glass. I can’t deny I was initially disappointed by its appearance as it was, well, kind of boring. But upon sipping my drink I was taken by surprise as I felt various sized gloops of invisible jelly slurp into my mouth. I was hooked.
We started off with the roast duck slices dressed with garlic soy caramel and shichimi. Shichimi is a Japanese 7-spice blend typically containing ground red chili pepper (the main ingredient), roasted orange peel, yellow and black sesame seeds, Japanese pepper (sansho), ground ginger and nori. It gave an obvious heat to the tender duck breast yet the flavours were freshened by additional citrus notes and more oceanic layers from the nori.
I used to hate all things pork but recently I confess I have had some mouth-watering experience and I think my tastes are a turning. But I have now learnt that cold pork belly however is not my thing. Pale, fatty slices of blanched pork belly were topped with a shichimi flavoured salsa dressing of red onion, red capsicum, cucumber and olive oil. I should have thought more carefully before ordering this one.
The tuna tataki was seared and served on a bed of avocado wedges and thick teriyaki sauce. The tuna had a wondrous rich dark pink colour and practically dissolved on the tongue.
Of course once again the Boy had to order the soft shelled crab. It is rare that I get to share this dish as it is deep fried and usually coated in a wheat flour batter. This dish was no exception and although there were loads of gluten free options, all the fried dishes were off the menu for me. A big helping of crispy, meaty crab served with some wasabi mayonnaise quickly vanished off from his plate accompanied by much lip smacking and finger licking. I was very jealous!
What is a meal without mushrooms? I am starting to wonder if I can actually survive for more than a few days without my mushroom fix. Being involved in Mushroom Mania month earlier this year has only proved to make my addiction worse as I feel like I need to continue to “do my bit” to promote their awesomeness! The pan fried mushrooms came topped with a mustard miso dressing and a sprinkle of shichimi.
The seared scallops were cooked perfectly with a small amount of bouncy firmness to the outside but soft tenderness on the inside.
The eggplant and capsicum namura was unexpectantly one of my favourite dishes of the night. The eggplant had an amazing texture that was close to that of set custard, held together only by its soft but firmer skin. The goma miso sauce was slightly sweet and salty with a nutty aftertaste. Goma miso is a thick sauce that is made with miso and sesame seeds.
I have to admit I didn’t really read the description of the seaweed salad before ordering and I expected a standard small bowl of brilliant green seaweed. Out came an enormous salad bowl filled with a variety of seaweeds in addition to cabbage julienne, Swiss chard leaf, mizuna, coral lettuce, tat-soy and red radish all coated well with a sweet mustard miso dressing. It was really easy to eat and we both crunched and munched happily away like rabbits .
Although we had ordered a lot of food, neither of us were overly full and agreed there was a tinsy bit of room left to share dessert. There was only one gluten free option; the crème brûlée. The surface of our dessert was hot to touch proving that it was indeed torched traditionally to get the burnt crust that makes crème brûlée such a treat. With a gentle tap of the spoon the wafer thin caramelised shell cracked and broke into bite sized geographical shaped pieces. Underneath the custard was tasty but its texture wasn’t smooth enough and actually looked a little on the lumpy side. It was still delicious however, and certainly didn’t go to waste.www.the-bonsai.net/ Price: $$$ (Share dishes $7-20, Mains $17-29, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 4.5/5 (must try the eggplant and the duck) Service: 5/5 (impeccable, attentive without being obtrusive) Ambience: 4.5/5 (funky, busy but can get quite noisy) Drinks: 4.5/5 (LOVED the sparkling Yuki saki!) Total: 17.5/20
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
I really need to start looking for a wedding dress! Or at least I need to start to have some sort of vision on what I am looking for! It all seems like a bit of an overwhelming task to begin so thankfully my bridesmaid Amber took the lead and knowing my style she kindly booked an appointment for me with Donna Tobin. The task of co-ordinating all three of us (Kate, Amber and I) proved more difficult than we thought as on the day each of us ran late for our own individual reasons. This resulted in us arriving nearly 45 minutes late for our appointment. We sheepishly entered the old bungalow style house in Subiaco apologising profusely all hot and sticky from the rush.
After browsing through her collection I chose four different styles to try on and in nearly a blink of an eye our time was up! I had officially entered this weird world of bridal and was starting to really enjoy myself! We walked away with some valuable ideas on things to look for in our next dress expedition and chatted excitedly about them as we headed down to Rokeby Road in search of a thirst quencher!
After a short few steps we arrived out the front of Bistro Felix – a familiar favourite of mine. I have dined here a number of times and always been impressed with whole package – great service, food and prices. They have a “petit lunch” menu which you can enjoy two courses for $40 or three courses for $45 including a glass of house wine. Excellent value right in the heart of Subiaco! We relaxed into the bistro feel of the place while we cooled our parched throats with some buttery sparkling wine (which I cannot recall the name!).
The Boy and I have recently been on a bit of a vegan detox which has left me craving fish, fish and more fish. Consequently I went a bit overboard and ordered fish for both my entrée and my main. Very unconventional but so satisfying! The home cured gravlax was tender and slightly sweet however could have done with a touch more creamy sauce gribiche.
Amber ordered the “wild game” terrine which was made from pork and had pistachios speckled through it. It was topped with some port and apple chutney and served with some toasted brioche. It looked so meaty and she was very happy with her choice.
Kate decided to go vegetarian and ordered the buffalo mozzarella salad with artichoke, sun-dried tomato and aubergine. Her dish was beautifully balanced and she was delighted to note that every component of her salad was served at the perfect cool temperature with no pockets of tepid food to mar any of the flavours.
My main was so simple but executed perfectly, two fillets of garfish with a lightly dressed salad and some fresh lemon. It complemented my entrée just how I wanted it to and I was left satisfied with my fish fix.
Amber had the wild mushroom risotto which was packed full of meaty mushrooms of all types and topped with shaving of parmesan. I was very envious of this dish!
Kate had the Toulouse sausage which is a traditional pork sausage from the South-western part of France. Her meal was a decent size with a fat juicy pork sausage sitting atop of some creamy Paris mash. It was garnished with a colourful array of flowers that she shared around for all of us to nibble on for fun.
Of course I had to order the mushroom sides. As many of your dear readers will know I have a strong affinity for mushrooms and seeing as I couldn’t have the risotto this was the next best thing! They were served in the cutest little Scanpan pot and were so succulent. Hidden in the pot amongst the mushrooms were also some little gems of whole roasted garlic cloves which oozed out their pasty contents into the pan giving even more flavour!
The girls had the chocolate and caramel tart which was so decadent and rich. Both of them struggled to finish their dessert after their decent sized mains. I ordered the crème brûlée (which I had NO trouble eating by the way!). After my previous lumpy experience of this dish at Celyta’s where instead of caramelising the surface they poured blobs of toffee on top, this was a wonderful and much more traditional reprieve to my taste buds. Always a favourite, I will look forward to continuing to return to Bistro Felix for more long lazy lunches in the future.Bistro Felix 118-120 Rokeby Road, Subiaco 6008 | (08) 9388 3077 | www.bistrofelix.com.au Price: $$$$ (Petit lunch menu 2/3 courses $40/$45, Dinner entrees $22-26, Mains $37-41) Food: 4.8/5 (excellent value, would go back just for the mushrooms!) Service: 4/5 (fairly attentive, occasionally needed prompting for topping up our wine) Ambience: 3.7/5 (great bistro vibe – love the artwork on the walls) Drinks: 4/5 (big wine list – lots of options) Total: 16.5/20
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As a thoughtful engagement present to us from one of our friends we were given a dinner voucher from Our Deal at Celyta’s Cuisine in Midland. Our friend had done her research and chosen this restaurant based on a great Urbanspoon rating and a wide range of gluten free options on their menu. Having just returned from Bali and a little on the broke side it was so good to be able to go out for a meal where everything was already paid for!
In keeping with our usual tradition of eating out, we like to visit another venue before dinner for some pre-dinner drinks so off we headed to The Principal Brewing Company. Our voucher at Celyta’s included a two course meal for two; either entrée and main, or main and dessert. So upon arriving to the pub we decided it would be a great idea to have some pre-dinner snacks to accompany our drinks.
We ordered some salt and pepper calamari which the kitchen was happy to grill without the flour dusting to make them gluten-free for us. The Boy also ordered some beer battered chips. The calamari was disappointingly tough and chewy but was a decent sized serve for an entrée. The chilli aioli reminded me of Nando’s Perinaise– which isn’t actually such a bad thing as I LOVE that stuff!
The beer battered chips were really crispy and the serve was huge considering we both had another two courses to get through. As they were beer battered I have to presume they were not gluten-free so I tried to resist eating any while I watched the Boy eagerly devouring his way through them. I was absolutely starving and hearing each crunch felt like torture so I ended up caving and helped him finish off the bowl. This was a stupid mistake because on the way home later that night I was in agony!! If you are not gluten intolerant however I highly recommend these chips – they were really good!
After we polished off our “snacks” we headed off in the direction of Celyta’s on foot. Just as we set off the rain started to speckle onto us but lucky for us it didn’t start a summer downpour until just after we arrived at the restaurant. The restaurant is BYO so I had stopped at the Bottle shop on the way and bought a bottle of Chapman Grove Chardonnay. This wine is from the Margaret River region and was quite light and fruity with a hint of oak.
I had pre-warned the staff about my dietary requirements a few weeks prior when I called up to make our reservation. I reminded the waiter as we were ordering to which he replied that nearly all the dishes are gluten free but there are only a couple that are onion free. He recommended that I order the Portuguese style steak. I was keen to try this as I vaguely recalled a Portuguese steak traditionally having an egg cracked on top of it while it’s on the grill? Being a big egg fan, this idea quite excited me although I didn’t see any mention of egg on the menu.
My steak came out not quite like I expected. The fatty cut of sirloin was drowned in a thick pepper sauce and there were paperweight sized chunks of prosciutto balancing on top. I had never seen such thick slices of prosciutto and they were extremely tough to eat. The steak was cooked rare as I had requested. The steak was surrounded like a clock face with medallions of potato that tasted like they had been frozen and reheated. Some of the slices had a leathery brown discolouration I can only presume was due to freezer burn.
The Boy ordered surf and turf – not exactly a traditional Portuguese dish either. His steak was also cooked rare to his liking but it was fattier than mine. It was served with some plain boiled rice, a small handful of chips and a pile of coleslaw. I always thought coleslaw was more of a Dutch dish? His chips also had some freezer burn on them.
Our dessert was a curious combination of a crème brûlée and a crème caramel all kind of rolled into one dessert. Seeing as these two desserts are particular favourites of mine I wasn’t really one to complain. Instead of caramelising the surface of the dish with a flame, it appeared that the chef had made some toffee and poured it on top of the custard. This resulted in a near tooth chipping layer of rock hard sugar to crack through. Underneath the custard was a little on the lumpy side and at the bottom of the glass was the runny layer of caramel pooling at the bottom. Totally edible but certainly not mind-blowing.
We still had a great night out regardless and are grateful for this gift, however it is very unlikely we will return to Celyta’s again. As I am frequently in the Midland area for business meetings, I will continue to return to the Principal as they are by far and by large the best pub in the area.Follow Me on Facebook! The Principal Brewing Company 23 Cale Street, Midland 6056 | (08) 9250 2995 | www.theprincipal.com.au Price: $$$$ (Light menu $9-27, Mains $24-34) Food: 2.5/5 (generally average food but better than other pubs in the area) Service: 3/5 (relaxed and friendly) Ambience: 2.5/5 (not very inviting, cold and stark) Drinks: 2.5/5 (small wine list) Total: 10.5/20 Celyta’s Cuisine 30 The Crescent, Midland 6056 | (08) 9274 8318 | celytascuisine.drupalgardens.com Price: $$$$ (Entrees $14, Mains $17-40) Food: 2/5 (very average considering menu prices) Service: 3/5 (a little slow but friendly enough) Ambience: 2/5 (brightly lit) Drinks: 2.5/5 (BYO, serves hot coffee) Total: 9.5/20