You don’t have to be a regular reader of this blog to know that I love my mushrooms. Back in 2012, my passion for this versatile fungi led to me being selected as one of the two official Mushroom Mania bloggers for WA alongside Cynthia from The Food Pornographer. I was only just a newbie blogger at the time and it was one of my first sponsored gigs. I threw my heart and soul into it to ensure that it was worthwhile for both me and the Australian Mushroom Growers Association. Since then I have continued to participate in Mushroom Mania on an annual basis with this year being my third year. For 2014, the AGMA went with a much less structured format than in previous years simply giving me a wad of prepaid VISA cards to use at my leisure provided that I ordered and photographed food with mushrooms.
In my usual extravagant style, I poo-pooed the idea of just going to a restaurant and eating one or two mushroom dishes and approached a couple of Perth’s top chefs to hit me up with a specifically designed Mushroom Mania degustation. I started off my journey at the new Highgate restaurant St Michael 6003 where we were taken on a journey of crackles and pops with a few surprises.
For my second part of this journey, I contacted Hadleigh Troy from Restaurant Amuse to see if he was keen to participate. Amusé is by far and by large the best fine dining restaurant in Perth and this is proven by their succession of accolades won year after year. There is a significant waiting list to get a table but believe me it is worth the wait. We have visited Amuse several times over the years however this was to be the first time since I started blogging. Despite there being many years between visits, I can always be assured that my dietary requirements are not only just catered for, but that they remember them without me having to remind them. The level of attention to detail and customer service is quite out of this world and every visit we have been made to feel like we are special, even when I wasn’t wielding a heavy camera.
Our evening began as is always the custom at Amusé with a few rounds of “snacks”; the first of which were paper thin crackers made from quinoa and some gluten free choux filled with ooey gooey Gruyère cheese fondue. I literally squealed with delight as the liquid cheese dribbled down my fingers.
The second snack looked very innocent but was a powerhouse of flavour; a slice of pickled radish topped with smoked crème fraiche and finished with salmon roe. A faint dusting of leek ash deepened the smoky flavours.
For our last round of snacks we received a bowl of tomato consommé. This little cup of goodness balanced flavours together precisely, with sago and pickled crab meat for texture and a couple of carefully added drops of toasted shell fish oil.
The consomme was finished with fresh lovage, chervil and wild garlic. Lovage has a mild bitter flavour similar to celery and coupled well with the gentle aniseed taste of the chervil.
Both the Boy and I come from families with big appetites. This is in part why the two of us first fell in love. Although I am a small framed person, I can knock back a surprisingly large amount of food and it takes a fair amount of eating to fill me up. I actually think I lack the fullness switch in my brain.
I can always be guaranteed to receive freshly baked gluten free bread at Amusé but even better still, unlike many degustations, it never stops at a single serve. The Bannister Downs house churned butter was whipped to a foamy light texture and I could have nearly eaten it on its own without any bread. Despite knowing we had another eight courses ahead of us, neither of us could turn down the offer for more bread and butter.
For the main courses, Hadleigh chose a different type of mushroom to be the hero ingredient for each dish. The first mushroom to star on the menu were ceps, or porcini mushrooms. These mushrooms are considered by some to be the king of mushrooms and are highly regarded for their meaty texture and nutty, creamy flavour.
A perfect spear of white asparagus from Bickley Valley was paired with crispy house made guanciale, an Italian cured meat made from pork jowl or cheek.
Swirled across the plate were added contrasting flavours from salty bottarga mayonnaise, creamy buttermilk dressing and a nutty flaxseed gomasio. The dish was finished with wafer thin cep milk skins.
Our second course brought more chirrups of delight from me as the enoki mushroom took centre stage. There is something about these adorable mushrooms that never fails to excite me and I have been known to add them at random to a variety of my dishes at home, sometimes inappropriately. Under a blanket of precisely positioned enoki heads was a smooth squid congee made with local Busselton squid. Luscious umami flavours from a mushroom dashi added in sumptuous depth to the dish.
We moved onto a more richly flavour mushroom for the next course using shiitake with chicken rice. I do love my chicken rice but this was a very cultured masterpiece quite unlike any chicken rice I have ever relished in Singapore and beyond. It was a structurally wonderful version with many elements to it to provide that level of wow factor that you can always expect at Amuse.
Roast vinegar chicken and a purée of shiitake were cooked over coals giving a slightly charred taste and served on a bed of traditional Japanese sushi rice. Our waiter served the dish with a chicken broth that was poured tableside.
The chicken was velvety smooth which markedly contrasted the added surprise of crunchy puffed buckwheat and amaranth, crispy nori wafers and a luscious creamy egg emulsion. It was challenge for the senses but in totally good way; with silky, crunchy, meaty and smooth textures all in one mouthful. As one of my colleagues at work loves to say; it was a “party in my mouth!”
It was going to be hard to impress me more than the chicken rice did and while the next dish was divine, it didn’t manage to take away the highlight of its incredible predecessor. Going for something a bit more leftfield, Hadleigh created a dish using lamb sweetbreads and braised morels mushrooms.
Morel mushrooms have a very rich, earthy flavour which went perfectly with the milder tasting, tender sweet breads. It was served on a parsley gremolata and topped with crunchy shoestring fries and crispy salt bush.
With the subdued lighting in the restaurant, the final main course was the hardest to photograph and tested the boundaries of my camera’s capabilities. A Butterfield beef short rib was served with a medley of roasted oyster, pickled shimeji and raw button mushrooms.
Dollops of broad bean puree and black garlic “BBQ” sauce decorated around the plate looking deceptively innocent. The subtle flavours of the bean purée made the polarised sensations of syrupy sweet black garlic BBQ sauce take the Boy’s tastebuds by surprise.
Our pre-dessert was titled cumquat, walnut and apricot. It was one of the few dishes in our degustation without mushrooms as an ingredient and took on the resemblance of one in appearance instead. A very cute gesture. Using cumquat curd and cumquat meringue with smooth walnut ice cream and apricot sorbet, this was the perfect pre-dessert to cleanse our tantalised palate ready for the finale.
Upon reading our menu earlier in the night, I cannot deny I was thoroughly impressed with the addition of mushrooms into the dessert. I was also a teeny bit sceptical. However, if anyone could pull off using mushrooms in a sweet dish, I knew it would be Hadleigh!
A smoked mushroom and chocolate mousse covered in ginger and Geraldton Wax granita was served with whipped blood orange and a ball of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate sorbet wrapped in thin layer of crisp white chocolate.
To add a final bit of zing to the dish some blood orange sherbet tumbled over the top like a cascade of snow. Neither of us uttered a single word as we devoured each mouthful in a blissful state of rare silence.
To end our night of wonderment, we were given hot cups of fresh mint tea infused with native pepper berries. After all the colours of overindulgence, the tea helped kick start our digestion and we both drifted off into the beginnings of a food coma. The tea was paired with some vanilla infused West Australian desert limes and a couple of passion fruit and white chocolate drops for a kick of sweetness.
I cannot believe we left it this long between visits to Amusé, this being our fourth visit since they opened eight years ago. After each and every visit the two of us have walked away from a faultless evening. The service is exquisitely polished with every dish unique and equally incredible. If you haven’t been yet, you are seriously missing out.Disclaimer: This amazing degustation was funded by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association as part of Mushroom Mania 2014. Full of fibre, flavour and containing many scientifically proven health properties, the mushroom is a food that should be on everyone’s weekly shopping list. We are fortunate enough in Australia to be able to source a wide variety of mushrooms to eat with each variety having its own individual flavour and texture. For more information head to the Power of Mushrooms website. Restaurant Amusé 64 Bronte Street, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9325 4900 | www.restaurantamuse.com.au
Only a few weeks ago the Boy and I shared a very memorable lunch at Dear Friends and it was easily one of the best meals we have had in Perth for some time. I love their philosophy of focusing on local and seasonal produce with much of their ingredients being sourced directly from local farmers or foraged from the wild surrounds. On our way home that day we both decided to book in at their city restaurant Co-op Dining, East Perth to celebrate our six month wedding anniversary.
I am still nursing a broken toe therefore my ability to go running has come grinding to a complete halt. We enjoy eating out a lot and I am totally devastated that I can no longer burn it all off on the tarmac. Honestly, it won’t be long before I’m the size of a small house. In a vain attempt to mitigate the anticipated caloric excesses for our dinner we agreed to walk, or in my case shuffle, from our house to Co-op Dining. I sighed in disappointment that I cannot wear high heels, sulkily chucked a pair of flats in my LV bag and headed off in my flip-flops.
It was a Friday night and both of us had to work the next day meaning a degustation was unfortunately out of the question. Instead we chose the five course menu with a couple of suggested wines by the glass. A bit more of a reserved affair compared to our lunch date at Dear Friends when I am told I may have been a bit flamboyant.
Work or no work I just couldn’t commence this celebratory meal without some bubbles; Champagne definitely remains one of my weaknesses. Coop Dining serve NV Gosset Grande Reserve by the glass which comes from one of the oldest and original Champagne houses originating way back to 1584. Rich and creamy with incredible structure I made sure I savoured every drop. The Boy chose to bypass the booze and ordered a lemon and lime bitters made with lemon myrtle and fresh limes. Some of the soft house churned Guernsey butter that we had enjoyed at Dear Friends was served alongside some home-made bread.
Our first course was a sweet Manjimup marron served with peppery watercress puree, Swan River samphire, a twig of warrigal and some glistening syrupy fermented lime. The samphire has quite an unusual salty, tangy flavour and is foraged from the banks of an estuary near the Swan River. It was the same type of samphire that we enjoyed last year at Millbrook Winery as part of the Mushroom Mania campaign.
The Boy’s next dish was a luscious chestnut soup made from whole roasted chestnuts grown locally in Bridgetown. I really love how these guys are such great supporters of WA produce. His soup was rich and creamy and smelt like Paris in winter to me. For those who are yet to travel to this romantic city; roasted chestnuts are sold there as street food in cones of newspaper on the boulevards.
Although I was highly envious of the Boy’s heart-warming chestnut soup, I was not to be disappointed with my non-vegetarian option. Chef made his own rabbit chorizo which he served with some WA cuttlefish and more of that dangerously black squid ink puree that we enjoyed at our Dear Friends lunch. The slight gamey flavour of the rabbit was in no way overpowering and balanced graciously with a gentle kick from the cute little blob of kimchee. I successfully avoided getting any squid ink on me again. Winning. Maybe I’m gaining more coordination in my older years?
For our next dish, the house made soy tofu made a return visit too. I like how each of the menus for their restaurants shared key elements but then diverged out into their own individuality. Coop’s tofu dish looked so simplistic and symmetrical with each ingredient placed in alternation across the slate. Cubes of house made soy tofu and velvety soft chunks of confit carrot were sprinkled with dashes of spinach powder and placed on a bed of smoked egg yolk.
Looks can be deceiving and although this dish may appear basic, more complex flavours were thoughtfully hidden to surprise us. The smoked yolk was thick and strongly flavoured and gave the more subtle flavoured tofu and carrot a bit of oomph. The gently scented wild garlic is foraged on the Mainwaring’s property and I couldn’t help but smile when Kelli’s eyes lit up as she told us how each year they get so excited when they see it sprout up.
The Boy and I diverged again for our next course as mine included **shock horror** meat. I was given a choice of pork belly or Wagyu beef and opted for the later. Admittedly I confess that as it was a Friday night and as I was onto my third glass of wine by this point my mind had blissfully travelled off with the fairies. As a result I forgot to photograph my dish until I have already devoured a few wondrous mouthfuls. My deepest apologies dear readers, however I’m sure you can still get the idea what luscious cuts of beef they were from what was left on my plate. Cooked over bark and crusted with carbonised leek powder each piece of 4+ Wagyu beef was as soft as sashimi. The wine match for this dish was the 2012 Myattsfield Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier and was the second time I had tried this local wine from Myattsfield Wines. After our lovely outing at the Bickley Harvest Festival I have started to appreciate the sumptuous reds made in this region and are going to need to return for more.
The Boy’s vegetarian main focused on Jerusalem artichoke which is just still in season for a few more weeks. The artichoke was prepared two ways; cooked artichoke was compressed into chunks overnight and cooked sous vide and then for the base of the dish was artichoke purée. Chunks of leeks and courgettes tumbled in amongst Guernsey curd and Nasturtium flowers. Mushroom and green olive powder was sprinkled over for a strong flavour boost.
Although we only selected the five course menu, the chef was so kind to send us a complimentary cheese course. It was called Brin d’Amour, or “birth of love”. A perfect choice to celebrate our first six months as newly-weds! Chef Kiren makes this traditional Corsican cheese himself using half Guernsey and half ewes milk. Once made it is rolled in mustard seeds, house made smoked paprika, rosemary, oregano and black onion seeds. The whole process takes about two weeks. The cheese was served with carrot molasses and olive bread. I received some gluten free bread as a replacement.
I was a little off my form as I also forgot to take a picture of our pre-dessert; fresh Donnybrook mandarins and lemon scented fennel topped with Thai basil flowers. A mouthful of spring this cleansed the flavours of dairy goodness off our palates in preparation for our final course.
Once again I appreciated the personal touches made by the Mainwaring team to make our experience all the more memorable with “Happy” and “Anniversary” scribed in chocolate on each of our plates.
Juicy fresh Donnybrook Pink lady apples took the centre stage star for the finale. On a bed of peachy coloured apple puree laid an ice cool scoop of rhubarb sorbet encircled by portions of fresh and poached apples. Topped with slivers of glass sugar, oats and pistachios I loved the layering of textures, temperatures and flavours.
Our night ended with some healthy and cleansing Kombucha, a type of fermented slightly effervescent black tea.
It comes as no surprise that Co-op Dining came out winners at the recent Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards where they received a placing in the top 100 restaurants in Australia. Both Co-op and Dear Friends were also awarded One Star in the highly esteemed GT Restaurant Guide for 2014. This is a team that have proven and maintained their place as foodie “royalty” in Perth yet remain humble, modest and true to their passion. We will most definitely be back.Co-op Dining 2/11 Regal Place, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9221 0404 | www.co-opdining.com.au Price: $$$$ (5 course menu $95, 10 course menu $120, matched wines extra) Food: 5/5 (consistently excellent, original and proudly West Australian) Service: 5/5 (once again charming, enthusiastic and passionate) Ambience: 4/5 (would have been improved if busier but we had our own booth and each other, who needs more?) Drinks: 4.5/5 (wished I could have gone for matched wine as my selected few were wonderful ) Total: 18.5/20
This year is my second year that I have been selected as one of fourteen bloggers from around Australia to participate in Mushroom Mania. This is a campaign run by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association in the month of July every year where they join thousands of restaurants, cafes, bistros, pubs and clubs to celebrate the wondrous mushroom. They spread their message through both traditional and online media and run competitions where you can win $100 restaurant vouchers. For the past few years they have embraced food blogs as a way to communicate with foodies and recruit a handful of us to do what we do best, go out to restaurants, eat and shoot food then go home and write about it. The only catch is that we have to eat dishes containing mushrooms!
Now this is an easy task for me. Mushrooms have got to be one of my favourite ingredients and I am not lying when I say I eat them daily. Last year my Mushroom Mania posts were two very different experiences. Firstly we visited the stunning Millbrook Winery in Jarrahdale where after our meal the manager took us mushroom foraging and we then dined at Divido, Mouth Hawthorn where three out of four courses contained mushrooms including some black truffles!
This year I was keen to learn more about these highly nutritious fungi so I met up with Cris Douwes from Perth City Farm where their recently funded GRO project has commenced growing their own organic mushrooms. Perth City Farm is a not-for-profit organisation funded by government grants and is helped out by many volunteer workers. The mushrooms that they grow are served in local cafés and restaurants including their own café, and they also sell them in both fresh and dry forms at their weekend organic farmer’s market. The plan is eventually to expand this business commercially once they are happy they have their formula perfected.
I love seeing someone who is passionate about their job, we spend so much of our lives working it seems negligent to your own happiness to not follow in pursuit of something you love. Within minutes of meeting Cris I could tell that mushrooms really rocked his world. He was a wealth of knowledge and proudly showed us around the farm detailing how his mushrooms are grown.
Fungi are known to be the biggest organism on the planet with the fungi mycelia being able to spread over large distances over thousands of years. Mushrooms are the “fruit bodies” of fungi and are part of their reproductive state. In nature fungi have to compete with many other organisms. In order to maximise growth of mushrooms in a commercial situation, they must be grown on pasteurised substrate in a very controlled environment giving them exclusive access to all nutrients.
At Perth City Farm they lessen the impact coffee production businesses have on the environment by utilising coffee by-products to grow their gourmet mushrooms on. Left over coffee husks and grounds that would normally be discarded as rubbish are turned into nutritious soil compost. As the fungi grow on this substrate they recycle the by-products into what can then be sold as garden compost. To make the substrate for mushrooms to grow on, they have to pasteurise it to remove all other organisms. In summer this is achieved by use of their solar-powered “oven” which can reach temperatures of over 85 degrees Celsius in summer. In winter they are unable to achieve adequate temperatures with this oven and instead use a 44-gallon drum which they heat using steam that is powered by natural gas burners.
The sterile coffee by-product substrate is then inoculated with the mushroom’s spores (mycelium) in front of a laminar flow hood that was kindly donated by King Park. The laminar flow hood provides a sterile air environment to prevent any contamination. They currently have fungal cultures that are able to grow a variety of edible mushrooms including Pearl Oysters, Gold Oysters, Shiitake, King Oysters, Grey Oysters, Pink Oysters, Blue Oysters, Ulmarius and Phoenix. The inoculated bags of mycelium mixed with substrate are then kept in a climate controlled dark room and allowed to grow into a solid white brick called a “cake”. This is the fungi in its vegetative state and it will continue to grow until it runs out of nutrients.
In order to turn this hardened bag of fungi into the delicious fruits we call mushrooms it needs to be triggered into its reproductive state. There are four triggers needed for fruiting: fresh air exchange, light, temperature change (shock) and humidity. Cris informed us it is an art form to get the balance of these trigger factors in the “fruiting room” just right. As we cast our eyes around his fruiting room it looked like he was pretty close to cracking the code.
Just as we finished our tour the chef came over to us with a plate piled high with what looked at first glance to be pieces of chicken. My eyes widened as I learnt that the delightfully fleshy dish was actually made purely of oyster mushrooms that had been freshly harvested. The mushrooms were lightly sautéed using fresh organic herbs from their garden and topped with some goat cheese and crisp rocket. Even a seasoned mushroom lover like myself was left surprised how meaty this dish seemed and I can understand why some people call it the meat for vegetarians!
The Boy is an avid gardener and had dashed out in his lunch break to join us on the farm tour so he ordered a salad for something quick before returning to work. Richly coloured roast vegetables, more flavoursome herbs and chickpeas turned his vegetarian salad into a satisfyingly filling express lunch that he wolfed down before departing quickly.
The café staff were much too kind to us and refused to let us pay for our lunch despite our retorts so we decided to sneakily return the next day as a fee paying customer. I ordered some soft-boiled eggs with dukkah and gluten free buttered soldiers accompanied by some more grilled mushrooms. My eggs were perfectly dippable coating each strip of toast in yellow happiness. The dukkah was a flavoursome addition to this simple favourite. The farm’s fresh herbs featured again in the grilled field mushrooms dish although these were nearly as meaty as the oyster mushrooms the previous day.
Neither of us had woken up very well that morning and in my sleepiness I think I accidentally ordered the Boy Eggs Benedict instead of the requested vegetarian version; the Eggs Florentine. He wasn’t very impressed with the sight of meat on his plate and I felt a bit bad for my careless error. Aside for the unwanted addition of ham, the rest of the dish was very much to his liking most notably the house made hollandaise, which he found rich and buttery with a slight tang.
Perth City Farm Café is a must visit breakfasty-brunch spot in Perth. For those who have grown their own produce at home you will appreciate the freshness of their home-grown ingredients. Your body will love you for eating organic and most importantly you will be minimising the impact your meal has on the environment.This restaurant was reviewed as part of Mushroom Mania month which is happening all across Australia during July 2013. Head to the Power of Mushrooms website for loads of mouthwatering mushroom recipes plus if you write your own review on a mushroom dish you could win one of 40 $100 restaurant vouchers! Disclosure: Chompchomp dined at Perth City Farm with compliments of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association. Perth City Farm Café 1 City Farm Road, East Perth WA 6004 | 0418 594 408 | perthcityfarm.org.au Price: $ Food: 4/5 (home grown, seasonal fresh produce and gooey eggs) Service: 4/5 (everyone obviously loves working here) Ambience: 4/5 (feels like a country garden in the city) Drinks: 4/5 (Rubra coffee is a winner) Total: 16/20
We decided to break our usual Sunday tradition again and stop in at The Partisan as opposed to our regular favourite pit stop at Toast. We had plans later that afternoon to meet up with the in-laws so we had to trim our standard epic hike down to a more time manageable ten kilometre power walk. In order to burn more calories and save some time I tried to encourage the Boy to run with me. After several failed attempts at this I eventually resorted to jogging alongside him like a crazed loon. How else am I going to get a bride’s body while maintaining fulfilling my constant craving for delicious food?
Despite us seeing that Toast was packed full of customers and yet The Partisan only had a few, we resisted the strong urge to gravitate over to our favourite in order to try somewhere new. We were told by their waitress that the kitchen closes for a short time between breakfast and lunch and that we weren’t allowed to look at the menus while we waited. I asked could we at least order some drinks while we waited to which she agreed. I found this all to be a bit strange given that this place is the perfect venue to eat at this time of day. I ordered my usual short mac (they serve 5 Senses coffee) and the Boy ordered himself a fruit juice.
For those who do not know the Boy; he is a tall, broad-shouldered man and is by no means effeminate. However to fly in the face of this hunky masculinity that is soon to be my husband is his ongoing passion for ordering himself pink coloured drinks. It never fails to amuse me even after all these wonderful years together, and what I love him even more for is that he doesn’t care what anyone thinks!
Eventually we were allowed to order our meals. At this point we had finished our drinks and the Boy was keen to order another pink drink. Unfortunately there was a bit of a mix up and they initially brought out the wrong one. After alerting them of this error we were later brought out the correct drink. The service was a little on the slow side considering how quiet the restaurant was and it felt a bit disjointed and disorganised.
During our journey on foot to East Perth, I had prepared myself for missing out on gluten free bread as I couldn’t remember seeing any on the menu when I checked online. As a result I was so happy to hear that they actually have some available. I decided to order something a bit different from my usual brunchy choices and got back to my French roots ordering the Croque Madame. Unfortunately the gluten free bread was way too crumbly and dry. It didn’t hold together very well for such a choice although the contents inside were so yummy that they nearly made up for having such average bread. The Swiss cheese was melted beautifully, the ham was sweet and soft and the egg was still just a little gooey in the centre.
The Boy ordered the roast beef sandwich which he really enjoyed. It contained a generous serve of big juicy chunks of meat, Swiss cheese and greens and was served with cornichons and mustard, chunky chips and some horseradish aioli. The aioli could have had a bit more horseradish added – it didn’t have much kick in it. The chips looked amazing but didn’t follow through with flavour. They tasted a little bland and I ate one that had a slight mouldy aftertaste.
We also ordered a side salad which had so much potential but didn’t quite hit the spot. The candied walnuts were very moreish but the salad itself wasn’t dressed meaning there was a lot of bland lettuce and radish left in the bowl that neither of us could be bothered eating.
Overall I cannot deny that it is unlikely that we will return to The Partisan for brunch when I know I can get quicker, friendlier service next door with fresher, tastier food. Perhaps their dinner service is better? I may considering returning to try this theory.thepartisan.com.au Price: $$ ($11-25 breakfast/lunch meals, $26-39 dinner meals) Food: 2.5/5 (has potential, needs better GF bread) Service: 2/5 (slow, inattentive and makes mistakes Ambience: 3.5/5 (lovely setting along the inlet) Drinks: 2.5/5 (fruit juices & smoothies were flavourless) Total: 10.5/20
The recent plethora of online voucher deals has meant that even those on a budget can eat out on a regular basis for a considerably reduced cost. These experiences can tend to be a bit of hit and miss however and I have found that it pays to do your research on the restaurant prior to purchasing. Ultimately at the end of the day you get what you pay for and if your voucher only cost you fifty bucks for a two course meal for two people, don’t expect them to be cracking out the lobster and caviar! What I really like about these vouchers is that they often take you to establishments you never would have thought to eat at which can lead to some great discoveries.
I was recently given a Spreets voucher for Volcanic Stone Grill and Cafe in East Perth which included a two course meal for two. Before booking a table, I went onto Urbanspoon to see what sort of feedback other diners had given on their experiences there. The general consensus of the reviews was quite negative ranging from gripes about the service and attitude of staff right through to the poor quality of the food.
Do you remember what my awesome birthday gift from the Boy was? It was a fighter combat flight for two with Fighter Combat International. We each went up into the clear blue sky with our own pilots in CJ-6A Chinese Nanchang fighter planes and had an adrenaline filled mock fight in the sky! The day was absolutely perfect for it with clear blue skies across the full horizon. Before our skirmish our pilots show us each a series of acrobatic manoeuvres subjecting us to 4G force pressures while flipping and spinning us about in the air like a bird. It was such an incredible experience and for anyone who loved Top Gun it is a must do for your bucket list!
We headed out for dinner later that evening with our heads still spinning around and doing imaginary loop the loops. I had called in advance to find out they are BYO so we arrived well prepared with wine and beer in hand. The place was fully booked with tables both inside and out. It was a chilly night so I was glad to be shown to our table situated inside. The restaurant was starkly lit with fluorescent lighting and decorated with plastic plants and our rickety table wobbled on its hinges. Not really the most romantic or cosy place to go for dinner! However thankfully after the buzz of the experience up in the air neither of us minded the lack of surrounding atmosphere this time. On entering there was a faint smell of tainted meat in the air that was a little unpleasant but with a bit of time my sense of smell adjusted and the smell became less pungent.
We started with the Volcanic tasting plate which wasn’t included in our voucher. The plate normally comes with Turkish bread but as I requested gluten free this was replaced with a small serve of fries. The plate had a combination of a variety of meats accompanied with a hot “volcanic” stone which you cook your own meat on.
The meat was fairly average quality and without any oil to put on the stone it stuck during cooking. This was especially a problem with the chicken which had to be scraped off making it shred a little. We also found the heat of the stone dissipated too quickly and our last pieces of meat cooked quite slowly. Nevertheless it was a bit of fun cooking the meat together and was a definite novelty at the dinner table.
We both chose the Mix grill for our main dish. This dish contained single portions of beef fillet, chicken tenderloin, pork fillet & lamb with a field mushroom. Without a voucher, this dish would normally be priced at a fairly hefty $32.90. Not exactly value for money but I think the voucher was priced at $50 so for two mains and two desserts this makes it very good value. This dish was brought out with the meat already placed on the stone meaning that it was cooked before the stone’s heat subsided.
There were only limited choices for dessert as some of the menu had been blacked out with texta. We both chose the vanilla ice cream – mine with gummy bears and the Boy’s with choc chips. I thought the gummy bears were a cute touch but with only five gummy bears placed on my cold stone I thought this was a bit stingy. The ice cream was a little icy and tasted like the mass produced commercial stuff, no Connoisseur served here!
Overall we found our dining experience to be satisfactory. We arrived at the restaurant assuming that if the reviews I read where anything to go by we would receive poor service, horrible food and walk away disappointed. The reality was that although English did not appear to be the wait staff’s first language we were served promptly and without fuss. Our food was more than edible and I like the concept of the stone for something different. If we had not arrived with a voucher deal I would have been very reluctant to pay their menu prices however thanks to the voucher it worked out to be excellent value.
Like Me on Facebook!Volcanic Stone Grill and Café Shop 25, 60 Royal Street, East Perth 6004 | (08) 9221 1363 Price: $$$$ (Entrée $15-27, Mains $29-45: Without a voucher this place is WAY overpriced) Food: 5.5/10 (great novelty idea would be better with quality meat cuts) Service: 2.5/5 (no fuss but no frills) Ambience: 1.5/5 (fairly absent) Drinks: N/A – BYO Total: 9.5/20
I am not originally from Perth having moved here nearly twenty years ago to commence my university degree. During my time at Uni I always imagined I would move back to the East coast. After completing my degree and obtaining a year’s experience in the work force, the Boy and I moved to London for a few years where we played it hard and fast in the big smoke. Returning to Perth a few years later, I found myself really appreciating this beautiful city for what it is and realised that in fact she had become my home. It was at this point my loyalties turned and I became a faithful lover of this sunny city.
There are some things about Perth that never stop giving me the wow factor and one of those is our regular running/walking route around the Swan River. Having the river on our doorstep makes exercising easy and the distractions of the scenery make the actual process much less onerous. To make it even better, dotted along this circuit is a number of excellent breakfast venues serving piping hot coffee and delicious food.
Toast in East Perth is a long-standing favourite of mine – we have been coming here on a regular basis for well over 4-5 years. It is conveniently located on my route around the river at the picturesque Claisebrook Cove. The sheltered location makes the most of the rising sun and protects the outdoor seating area from any wind meaning that nearly year round (excluding rainy days) the weather feels perfect.
The Boy and I had planned to do a big 17 kilometre walk together around both loops of the river but unfortunately the boy woke up feeling unwell and thought it wise to rest. Seeing as I would be making the journey alone, I thought I would embrace this opportunity and race myself from home through South Perth, running around the river to meet him over in East Perth for a late brunch. Thankfully Toast serves an all-day breakfast menu.
Not wanting to leave my fiancé waiting at the café for me feeling poorly, I took off at a steady pace with the aim to pick up speed even more once I hit half way. As I crossed the imaginary half way mark my legs still felt like loaded springs so surging forward I raced my virtual partner to the finish.
As a result of my mock running race, I arrived in East Perth all red-faced and heaving with about fifteen minutes to spare. This gave me time to compose myself before wandering down to Toast to meet the Boy. There are a lot of gluten-free options here; one is really spoilt for choice.
This time round I ordered the roasted tomato, feta and basil on gluten-free toast with added poached eggs and mushrooms. I have eaten this dish many times and am always chuffed with the knowledge my eggs will be cooked perfectly and each meal is consistent in quality with the previous. Their gluten-free bread has a beautiful rich pumpkin colour and is excellent in both texture and taste.
The Boy ordered the avocado and Vegemite on whole grain bread with added poached eggs. The Vegemite was warmed slightly allowing it to be easily spread over the crunchy grainy bread. The avocado was soft and creamy and his eggs were similarly poached to perfection. As we sat in comfortable silence in the sun soaking up its energy we were both so thankful we chose to settle down in Perth. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Two weeks later the Boy was fully recovered so we made plans to do our big double loop walk together. The weather forecast had threatened morning showers yet as we set out the sky was clear blue and a fresh autumn breeze was blowing. We were rewarded once again with another stunning morning.
We both maintained a cracking pace as we had plans to meet with his family in King’s Park for a Mother’s Day picnic later that afternoon. Despite Toast being even busier than usual we were seated fairly quickly and had a short wait for our meals considering they really were flat out.
It is a very rare occasion that I can be convinced to forego Toast’s poached eggs. If they aren’t included with my menu choice, I have a tendency to add it on the side so I don’t miss out. This time round however I was craving something sweet and as I gazed over their menu my eyes kept returning to the French toast. Their gluten-free bread held together fabulously and the delicately creamy ricotta with the tart berries had me in seventh heaven. I would have preferred just a dash more maple syrup to end on a stronger sweet note.
The Boy had one of his favourites, the big breakfast. This is definitely not one for the faint hearted, or those with heart disease more to the point. A massive pile of crispy bacon, three chipolatas, poached eggs, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms and toast made this a very decent sized meal. Once the Boy finished, he patted his stomach in a satisfied manner and groaned at the thought we still had to walk home. Unfortunately we had no time to linger in the morning sun and so we pressed onward with our journey back. Understandably our pace on this second leg was much slowed down due to our overindulgence but I guarantee we will do it again and again!
Like Me on Facebook!Toast Shop 21/60 Royal Street, East Perth 6004 | (08) 9221 0771 | www.toasteastperth.com Price: $$ ($8-20 breakfast/brunch, gluten-free options available) Food: 4.5/5 (seriously good breakfasts) Service: 3.5/5 (relaxed, efficient & casual) Ambience: 4.5/5 (blissful view gazing out onto the water) Drinks: 4.5/5 (serves high quality Rubra coffee, freshly squeezed juices worth a try too) Total: 17/20
With only one hours’ notice to the kitchen for my no wheat/no onion requirements I was delighted to be greeted by our waitress as we were sat down at our table with an amended menu with suitable options and accompanying alterations. This attention to detail was seen throughout the night with attentive and friendly customer service.
Blackbird is a cosy little restaurant oozing charm and character and the atmosphere was perfect for us to both unwind after a long week over some delicious food. I started with the Special of the Day, a portion of smoked salmon served on a bed of fennel with cumquats and lime. This dish was very light and refreshing to the palate – quite uplifting. The boy had the confit of duck and pistachio terrine. The confit was flavoursome and not dry and balanced well by the more gentle flavours of the terrine.
For main we both had the seared line caught ocean trout with quail eggs – mine accompanied by mash and his accompanied by a risotto cake. The trout was cooked perfectly; it flaked apart under my fork and melted in my mouth like butter. Definitely the highlight of the evening. We progressed onto the cheeses – quite a generous serve which we both struggled to finish. A good selection of Roquefort, hard Dutch goat’s cheese and my favourite of the three La buche d’affinois. There were no GF accompaniments for the platter but this did not matter as I came prepared with some GF crackers in my bag (I had already perused the cheese menu prior to arrival!)
We ended the night with a pannecotta to share. This was the least enjoyable dish as it collapsed into a puddle of puree minutes after serving. It tasted like very sweet fruit puree – not entirely inedible, but certainly not what we felt like. Without either of us saying anything to the waitress, upon seeing our dish she apologised and told us she would take it off the bill for us as it was not acceptable. Like I said – their service was very attentive.
Service 9/10 Food 8.5/10 Venue 8/10Blackbird Restaurant Suite 4, 10 Eastbrook Terrace, East Perth, 6004 | (08) 9225 7880 | www.blackbirdrestaurant.com.au