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
I am a very enthusiastic person and whilst most of you are well aware of my passion towards food, not all of you may know me for my devotion to my career. Nearly fifteen years have past since my graduation yet my love for being a vet grows even more as time goes on. I thrive on sharing this zeal with other like-minded colleagues. Fortunately our team of vets is filled with similar fanaticism and this creates a strong bond amongst many of us. One of our long-term employees Elaine started her career journey with us as a student many years ago and it has been a wonderful experience watching her skills and knowledge develop. It was only natural that through this mentoring process the two of us would become close friends and we have both joined each other’s wedding celebrations. It had been months since we had a chance to be able to catch up socially and agreed to meet at Gordon Street Garage, West Perth for breakfast on our day off. I have been curious to check out this hipster joint knowing it is owned by the same legends that run Duende; one of my favourite tapas bars in Perth.
Based in a building that did indeed once operate as an auto electric garage, the place is flooded with lots of natural light during the day and decorated with a lot of the furniture and fixtures made from recycled materials from the original garage. They take their coffee very seriously and roast their own single origin sourced beans on site. And it shows; their coffee is damn good; not too bitter with subtle fruity flavours. I dream of the day I can work closer to this joint so I can drink their brew more often! Maybe more on this later 😉
Elaine ordered the hot smoked salmon served with fresh corn, cucumber, sour cream on a toasted focaccia. All the ingredients were obviously fresh; some of the little corn kernels were still stuck together in rows to prove they had just been scrapped off the cob itself. The trout was delicately flavoured and balanced well with the sweet acidity of the cherry tomatoes and creamy dressing.
Whilst the Boy has embraced a vegetarian lifestyle with gusto, I have to admit I’m yet to come on board 100%. My food intolerance issues mean that I struggle with iron deficiency anaemia and my symptoms wax and wane along with my haemoglobin counts. Consequently whilst not being a hard core carnivore, I am reluctant to give up meat altogether as I feel I should be obtaining my iron from more than just plant and tablet sources!
The Gordon Street Garage’s vegetarian breakfast looked too good to miss. More of those cute little rows of corn kernels featured alongside ooey-gooey poached eggs, herbed fetta, fresh avocado, roasted tomato and basil potatoes. Once again each element of my dish oozed freshness and tasted like it was plucked straight out of someone’s veggie patch.
We both had the day off and had nowhere to be in a hurry so our thoughts turned to the very conspicuous cake cabinet that we had ogled on our way in. We walked back over to the cabinet with our waitress where she gave us a lengthy lowdown on all the colourful Alice-In-Wonderland-esque delights that are all made on the premises.
Gluten free dessert options were limited but I was fairly happy with my choice of a coconut and pineapple pannacotta. Creamy and uber coconutty this tropical breath of sweet deliciousness seemed like the perfect way to end my brunch. In a moment of thoughtfulness I asked our server to box up one of each flavour of their macarons to take home to share with the Boy.
Elaine couldn’t go past “The Gateau”; a peanut butter and chocolate slice that our waitress claimed was out of this world. It was very rich but Elaine impressively slowly but surely managed to eat the whole lot as I watched on enviously.
By comparison my pannacotta was devoured in a couple of mouthfuls and as Elaine savoured her decadence I gazed at my box of macarons; raspberry, orange, pistachio and lemon flavours. As we chatted away she eventually successfully demolished her gateau and I looked down into my macaron box…..it was empty, I had eaten all four!
A few weeks later it was my last night with my dear husband before I flew solo to Barcelona for a conference. I have never travelled overseas without him and the thought of being apart left us both feeling torn between grumpy and sad. After such a glowing experience for my brunch I dragged him out on a cold weeknight back to Gordon Street Garage. The evening vibe was totally different to the sunlight-flooded experience I had previously but it still maintained the charm. The acoustics allowed music and conversation to melt into one meaning and we had to lean in close to hear each other.
In contrast to their very gluten friendly lunch menu I was disappointed to discover the only two dishes that could be adapted were the beef cheeks and the steak. Bad luck if you are Coeliac and don’t want to eat cow. I enquired if any vegetarian dishes could be adapted to be gluten free and was informed that although this could be done for me it would result in leaving out key elements that would greatly affect flavour.
So beef cheeks it was. I could see the Boy’s newly turned vegetarian eyebrows lift. I retorted that although I could clearly see the many benefits of his recently found way of life, I had to eat something! The beef cheeks tore apart beautifully and whilst this was a simple dish it was beautifully complemented with fresh greens and powerfully tasty wood fired mushrooms.
There were a number of vegetarian options and the Boy chose a couscous salad with sumac pumpkin, coriander and mint dressed with a lemony yoghurt dressing. The couscous was actually Israeli couscous which are more like pasta balls and are much bigger than regular couscous. It was a fair size for an entrée but wasn’t enough to fill his long legs so we ordered some olives and frites to accompany our meals.
Throughout our evening we found it increasingly difficult to get any waiters’ attention and spotted them on a number of occasions standing around in groups chatting casually amongst themselves. Although our food orders came out of the kitchen quickly, this was not the case with our drinks and ordering each round was painfully slow. This was somewhat worsened as some waiters would clear our empty glasses away without pausing to ask if we wanted another.
After a wait we eventually placed our dessert order for the only gluten free dessert available; crème catalane. This is Spanish variation of crème brûlée. It had a bit of tang to it and was just as creamy as the pannacotta I enjoyed at my breakfast.
After my first glowing visit to Gordon Street Garage I was left feeling a little stumped why they get such a mixed bag of reviews out there. Now having returned back for dinner it makes more sense. The food is simple and fresh however the menu is designed to get the food out quick and without alterations. The lack of options for gluten free dishes for dinner service was somewhat disappointing and I would love to see this change in the future along with their slow inattentive service.
Gordon Street Garage16 Gordon Street, West Perth WA 6005 | 08 9322 8050 | http://www.gsgarage.com.au/ Price: $$$ (Breakfast $12-24, Lunch $15-20, Dinner $17-35) Food: 4/5 (love the use of fresh local produce, some more accommodation for us intolerants would be greatly appreciated) Service: 2/5 (maybe just an off night, but save chitter chatter until the end of your shift) Ambience: 4/5 (if you love noise and atmosphere this place has an awesome buzz) Drinks: 4/5 (great wine list, lots of interesting options by the glass) Total: 14/20
I have been literally dying to take the Boy with me to The Imp in Victoria Park for so long but every time we plan to go there it is so packed full of customers that there is no free table available for us. Having been there several times myself I knew he would love it. It’s always buzzing and alive with atmosphere and the staff are all funky, vibrant and friendly. We had completed our usual Sunday walk around the river together accompanied by my new toy; my first DLSR camera which I have nicknamed “Gordon”. I had been busy happy snapping away at the gorgeous scenery and felt that all too familiar reminder what an awesome city we live in.
The Imp is not a place to go if your prone to claustrophobia, it is a tiny cosy little place and the tables are squeezed together closely meaning you have to shimmy in-between them to get to your seat. We sat next to an attractive looking African family who were enjoying their lunch. Sitting with them was their gorgeous little toddler with hair all up in little pony tails. She couldn’t drag her eyes away from staring at us, seemingly mesmerised by my Fendi handbag brimming with contents. As I pulled out my new camera her interest heightened and she watched with great amusement while I played around with the settings.
Upon ordering I enquired which dishes could be made gluten free. I was informed by the waitress that they no longer can guarantee any dishes gluten free. She explained to me that the previous chef made a big mistake in sourcing non-gluten free soba noodles and served them to a Coeliac who proceeded to become very unwell halfway through her meal. This chef was sacked as a consequence of her oversight and since then they don’t want to take any further risks in making people unwell. Fair enough. I appreciated her honesty. I am lucky enough to not be quite as sensitive as other gluten intolerants; provided gluten isn’t an actual ingredient in the dish any slight cross contamination in the kitchen very rarely poses me too much trouble.
I ordered the scrambled eggs, herb salad & truffle oil which normally also comes with toast. As they didn’t have any gluten free bread as a replacement the waitress kindly offered to serve some fresh avocado on the side instead at no extra cost. To my satisfaction the truffle oil tasted very strong and fresh. I get so disappointed when the oil is aged so much that the truffle flavour is nothing but a mere hint, that’s just teasing.
The Boy ordered the burger which came with pickled cucumber, hand cut potatoes and aioli with the added option of bacon. The beef burger was small but very juicy and seasoned well. The bun was soft and held its shape adequately without going too soggy or brittle. The bacon was grilled a touch short of crispy which was fortunate as the boy prefers his bacon meaty not crunchy. The fries needed a little extra salt but were otherwise quite tasty.
We had both worked up a reasonable sweat during our walk (despite my constant stopping to photograph things of interest) so we agreed to share a dessert. I ordered a flourless orange cake which came with some vanilla ice cream and was topped with the cutest little meringue. I was probably a bit too full to enjoy this thoroughly as I found the cake to be a little bland. The Boy enjoyed most of the ice cream which was creamy and sweet. Perhaps my taste buds were still too busy rocking out on all that amazing truffle oil!
Serving fabulous breakfast, lunch and dinner; The Imp is somewhat of a foodie’s icon here in Vic Park. They continue to be extremely popular due to consistently great food, quirky friendly service and an ever-changing seasonal menu. A definite local fav of ours.The Imp 863 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9361 2600 | www.theimp.com.au/ Price: $ (Breakfast $6-20, Lunch $13-16, Tapas $8-26) Food: 4.5/5 (who doesn’t love lashings of truffle oil for breakfast?) Service: 4/5 (no table service, but friendly and fast) Ambience: 4/5 (busy, loud and vibrant) Drinks: 4/5 (serves Fiori coffee, big selection of teas, BYO for dinner) Total: 16.5/20
It was our last night in Bali and although we had both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly we couldn’t help but feel that we had preferred our recent trips to Thailand. The over commercialised vibe along with the abundance of Australian tourists made our holiday in Bali feel a little bit like we hadn’t actually left Australia. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing, but I do love the experience of being in another country. I guess we shouldn’t really try to compare the two and regardless of their differences I am still looking forward to returning to Bali; perhaps next time we might get a bit off the beaten track.
We set out in a local cab once again and the Boy set my GPS on my phone to record our route. He was determined to prove to me that in order for the driver to justify a larger fare we were about to taken on a more extended journey to our destination. As we got into the cab we requested the driver to set the meter rather than barter with him over a fixed price. We discovered this can be a better way to obtain a more fair charge. On the slow drive south of the island to Rock Bar our driver continued to attempt to convince us of a package price deal where he would wait at the other end and be available to drive us home at the end of the evening. We politely declined his offer and explained we were happy to just hail another cab and use their metered fee also.
By the time we arrived at our destination an hour later he reproached us – obviously being very keen for the return fare and he offered to wait for us for 3000 Rupiah (which is about $3 dollars). At this point we realised we were being stingy mean tourists; the poor man was willing to wait for hours while we ate and drank the evening away for an extra three bucks. Feeling guilty for playing the hard arse we agreed as we pulled up at the busy hotel foyer.
To get to Rock Bar you must walk through the large Ayana resort to the edge of the cliff face and then board a tiny cable car that takes you about 50 metres down the cliff to the bar. I recommend you arrive with plenty of time before sunset to avoid the queues to get in. We chose one of the lounges facing the water, kicked off our shoes and sunk back to soak up the sun.
Because there is no kitchen at Rock Bar all the food is pre-prepared and I was so disappointed to be told that there are absolutely no gluten free options on their menu at all. We were both hungry so you can imagine my food envy as I watched the Boy tuck into his wedges and curly fries. It was some consolation to me to hear that the wedges were dry, thin and flavourless, and the curly fries tasted like they came out of a frozen packet. To make matters worse, only tiny serves of sauce accompanied the dry potato meaning it didn’t sound like I missed out on much.
As I basked in the warmth of the sun like a cat I sipped on my “Rockito” and realised that even without some nibbles to eat life was pretty good. The Boy wasn’t enjoying the sun quite as much as I was and tried to hide behind what little shade he could find cast by my shadow. My first Rockito came out with mostly ice and only about an inch of drink in the bottom meaning it only took me minutes before I had guzzled it down. I ensured to give more explicit directions to our waiter how I wanted my subsequent drinks to be served and from then on they were made to perfection, with just enough of a hint of sugar without being too overpoweringly sweet.
After several rounds of drinks I was beginning to think my stomach had started to digest itself in protest of my hunger. We moved further down the cliff face to the restaurant on the beach called Kisik. A word of advice for the ladies: don’t wear your high heels here as the restaurant is literally on the beach and your stilettos won’t take kindly to sinking into the sand! The location and view are fantastic affording great photo opportunities as the sun slowly sinks into the sea as you are surrounded by glowing bamboo torches.
Kisik offers a variety of fresh seafood displayed on a bed of ice for you to pick and hand to the chef who cooks it for you just how you like it. Lobster, prawn, seasonal fish, oysters and clams you name it; if it’s caught locally it is likely to be available fresh off the boat and nearly moving. In fact the lobsters were still actually alive and I felt pangs of guilt for the poor creatures as we selected which one we were soon to devour.
As part of the meal you are served two entrees consisting of an Indonesian Gado gado salad followed by a Jimbaran styled Bouillabaisse. My Gado gado salad was altered slightly to accommodate for my allergies which by the way the chef found to be no problem.
Our soup tasted similar to a Tom Yum style hot and sour soup and was refreshing and light. Perfect to commence our seafood feast that we had selected as in true form we had gone overboard and ordered quite a lot!
Our first choice was some beautiful looking King prawns and although they were ridiculously priced, nearly more than what we paid at Rottnest last year, they looked so tempting that we just couldn’t resist. It was worth it! They were cooked simply with some garlic butter and lemongrass and were very fresh, crunchy and mouth-wateringly juicy.
For our next course we had selected some local clams which the chef made into a very tasty soup with fresh lime and coriander in a white wine reduction. It reminded me a little of the clam soup we had some time ago at Rockpool and was comparably delicious.
Our last course was the one I really was waiting for. Steamed rock lobster cooked Indonesia style with tofu, chilli and garlic. To my extreme disappointment the lobster was overcooked and rubbery tough. What a sad way to end an otherwise wonderful meal!
Upon our return to Seminyak we realised that our poor driver had spent a total of three hours waiting for us and a further two hours driving. Now we really felt like the mean stingy tourists so in order to both appease our guilt and show our appreciation we gave him a generous tip as we alighted at our hotel Villa Air Bali.
Overall both Rock Bar and Kisik are experiences not to be missed on a trip to Bali, expect to pay near Perth prices, but for the location, service and ambience it was totally worth it.
Travelling to Bali? Be sure to check out the Lonely Planet Bali and Lombok Travel Guide before you go!
Like Me on Facebook!Rock Bar and Kisik @ Ayana Resort Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Bali 80364, Indonesia | (+62) 361 702222 | Rock Bar | Kisik Price: $$$$$ (Live Rock Lobster AUD$185/kg, King Prawns AUD$145, Oysters AUD$4/piece!!) Includes tax, service charges and two entrees, using current $1=R9166 Food: 3/5 (Rock Bar – needs GF options, Kisik – amazing meal until our overcooked lobster arrived) Service: 5/5 (could not fault them – full of smiles) Ambience: 5/5 (waves lapping on the rocks below you, setting sun, fresh sea air = awesome) Drinks: 3.5/5 (great variety of cocktails) Total: 16.5/20
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
In January every year, the Boy’s family organise a joint holiday for all of us somewhere north of Perth. It is a big endeavour to get all eight of us able to coincide this time together so in order to simplify things for everyone they decided to change the tradition and take us over to Rottnest Island for a day trip instead. Rottnest Island is located about 18 kilometres off the coast of Perth and is only about 11 km long and 4 ½ km wide. Despite being a popular tourist destination since the early 1900s, the island itself is not overly developed having just a modest number of fairly basic beach shacks and villas, a YHA backpacker’s hostel and a camping ground. There is also some accommodation at the only pub on the island which now called Hotel Rottnest (it used to be called the “Quokka Arms Hotel”).
One of the most popular ways to get to the island is via one of two ferry companies. We travelled with Rottnest fast ferries. Ticket prices for day trippers are $82 for an adult, $43 for a child or you can purchase a family pass for $210. The ferry that we boarded was slightly old and run down. With Perth currently being in the thick of a heat wave; the ferry’s air conditioners struggled to cope leaving a stale almost mouldy smell in the cabin. Not pleasant.
Our journey over was pretty rough going which I am told can be quite a common occurrence. If you are one of those unfortunates who are prone to getting seasick, I strongly recommend dosing yourself prior to departure with some travel sickness tablets. Thankfully neither the boy nor I suffer from this but it was a completely different story for the poor children. Shortly after embarking from Hillarys, I noticed each child gradually turning from white to green and becoming unusually quiet. It wasn’t long before our niece admitted defeat and was headfirst in a sick bag, tears streaming down her pale face. Our nephew tried his hardest to tough it out at first, repeatedly saying to us that he felt absolutely fine and stubbornly refusing to take a bag. The Boy loves to stir the pot at any opportunity so he started to show our nephew photos on his phone of delicious greasy hamburgers and barbequed pig’s intestines! This didn’t go down very well and before long he was grabbing for a bag and joining his sister. Already surrounded by the thick stale air, the smell quickly diffused throughout the cabin and even I started to feel a little nauseous! I certainly didn’t need a bag though.
On arrival to the island the Boy’s parents wanted to catch the bus around the island in order to see the sights. On such a glorious day, the last thing I wanted to do was be stuck on a bus with a bunch of tourists, so I suggested to the Boy that we hire some bikes and explore on our own. Rottnest Island Bike Hire is the largest facility of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere with over 1,300 bikes available. They provide helmets, locks and each bike has a luggage rack for you to store your beach towel or other belongings. Hire prices are very reasonable; we paid $27 each for the full day (plus a refundable $25 bond per bike).
The boy and I used to do a lot of outdoor exercise together in years gone by. We once walked 34 km on a round trip from our chalet in Margaret River to Clairault Winery in order to enjoy their five course degustation. However over recent years, my keen running obsession combined with his devotion to strength training with weights has meant our exercise regimes have drifted apart. Treadling around the island with him was so much fun that I might consider diversifying my exercise a little so we can enjoy our endorphin highs together.
After working up a bit of a sweat coursing up and down the hills, we stopped off at The Basin for a well-earned dip in the cool ocean. The water was so refreshingly good that after drying myself off in the glorious sunshine, I felt rejuvenated and ready for more exploring. The boy had a different idea and I have to admit it took minimal persuasion for him to convince me to join him at the pub while we waited for his parents to return with the kids form their bus ride.
The Hotel Rottnest is located at Thompson Bay in the main settlement area on the island. The historic building dates all the way back to the late 1800’s where it was originally the Governor’s residence. In 2007 the building underwent a major restoration which took over two years to complete. It has a spacious outdoor dining area facing directly onto the beach and its presence injects a bit of a much needed modernisation to the otherwise out-dated architecture on the island.
The hotel was well prepared to cater for gluten-free customers with a ready prepared list of suitable items from their menu. The boy and I chose to share the grazing plate, a bucket of Exmouth prawns and some chips. The grazing plate wasn’t the best value nor did it’s ingredients show any flair or talent of the kitchen. The prosciutto was delicately flavoured with the perfect balance of slightly salty and fragrant sweetness. The bresaola was not as good quality, it was sliced a little too thickly making it a bit chewy in texture and must have been sliced a considerable time before serving as it had dried out and gone a little hard.
The menu mentioned the tasting plate featuring a third meat, some lombo (meaning pork) however this wasn’t on the platter and was replaced by three dolmades. We were not advised of this at any point by the staff. The dolmades tasted like they were from a can. The fetta and olives weren’t really anything special either. The platter also had some fresh Fremantle sardine fillets topped with gremolata. Thankfully I came prepared with some gluten-free crackers, and topped with the sardines they were a treat.
The Bucket of Prawns contained about a dozen juicy and fresh prawns. We felt they were quite overpriced at $42 considering most of the bucket contained ice. This is when compared to other touristy places in Australia such as On The Inlet in the beautiful Port Douglas marina where they cost less than half the price at $18.
Overall our experience was relaxing and pleasant however there is a lot of room for improvement with the food and the prices. Being the only pub on the island has allowed them to overinflate their prices because customers don’t really have anywhere else to go!Hotel Rottnest 1 Bedford Avenue, Rottnest 6161 | (08) 9292 5011 | hotelrottnest.com.au Price: $$$$ ($25-42 entrée, $26-42 Mains) Food: 2.5/5 (boring and overpriced) Service: 3/5 (didn’t inform us of menu alterations) Ambience: 3.5/5 (great scenery and relaxing vibe on the terrace on the beach) Drinks: 2.5/5 (again overpriced, limited wine selection, at least they had fresh limes this time!) Total: 11.5/20
It was New Year’s Day and I woke up a bit weary-headed and totally famished. We had started our New Year’s Eve night off at the Greenhouse enjoying some good tunes, food and company then all continued partying on back at our house after they shut at 2am. The night was made even better because my sister had flown all the way over from Melbourne to join us for the week.
Looking at the casualties scattered around my house that morning it seemed that I was not the only one that was border-lining on starvation either. My sister and I were craving something much more delicious than my fridge could offer us so; accompanied by Big Bones we set off on our search. Unsurprisingly, the boy chose to stay at home nursing his sore head which was a result of the excesses of the prior evening. We had arranged to meet my bestie and her other half at the OBH for some hair-of-the dog drinks later in the evening so we figured head towards the beach and see what we could find.
Not a lot was open around the Claremont area so after some time of driving around we were pleased to see most of the restaurants along the iconic coastal road in Cottesloe were open. Cottesloe beach is internationally renowned for its beauty and lifestyle. Having had many a pleasant breakfast at the beachside café Barchetta before, I convinced everyone to stop in there for a nibble before we recommenced punishing our poor bodies with further frivolities at the Obie.
As we were seated at our table we all realised we were starting to fade fast and were really in desperate need of some sustenance. Our waitress was friendly enough despite the fact she looked like she was suffering from her own post-celebratory pain. She verbally stumbled throughout the whole process of taking our order and she kept repeating herself several times. We ordered some lemon peppered baby calamari but requested for them to be served gluten-free. She warned us the dish wouldn’t taste as nice without the “powder” so we explained to her that we are used to making compromises and we are actually very grateful to the kitchen for willing to adapt. Unfortunately we should have heeded her advice as she was indeed correct, this dish was quite disappointing. The calamari was tasteless without the crumb and was in desperate need for some seasoning of sorts. It was served with a rocket and herb salad which was similarly flavourless and unexciting.
We also ordered the chilled king prawn salad which was served with cherry tomatoes, orange, spinach and crispy pancetta. The prawns were fresh and a decent size, the pancetta wonderfully crispy and crunchy, and the sweet vincotto dressing married perfectly with the addition of juicy pieces of orange. It was a perfectly fresh and uplifting hangover cure.
Big Bones ordered the house made porcini mushroom gnocchi with braised rabbit and chevre cheese. This dish was not exactly what he expected and consisted of a long plate of braised rabbit topped with four gnocchi which were dolloped with the goats’ cheese. The rabbit was apparently quite dry and was in dire need of some more love and attention in its preparation in order to make the most of its delicate flavours. The gnocchi were also a little dry and perhaps not that fresh.
Finally to share we ordered a bowl of cinnamon kumara fries. These were the highlight of the meal, I have never tried the combination of cinnamon with the kumara before and it was a match made in heaven. It was served with a preserved lemon and basil aioli which only made them even more moreish!
Once the food started to line our stomachs, the thoughts of the last night’s overindulgences faded away into a distant memory so we shared a zesty bottle of Mount Langi Ghiran “Cliff Edge” Pinot Gris. With the cool wind gusting around us from the ocean, we sat back and relaxed as someone fossicked around in the sand with her metal detector. I wondered if she would actually find anything of value. Observing her complete lack of expression of her face in the distance, I highly doubt it!
After finishing our meals we sat waiting for over ten minutes to be offered dessert menus and coffees. After seemingly becoming invisible to all staff, Big Bones gestured over to a waitress and requested dessert menus. A further five minutes passed and she forgotten again to bring them over so we had to ask her again. By the time we actually were given the menus in our hot little hands it was getting well into the evening and we were very late for our drinking session across the road. Refuelled we traipsed over the road to recommence our celebrations where we had left off earlier in the wee hours of the morning. We are going to need to do some serious detoxing in the New Year!Price: $$$$ (Entrée $16-24, Mains $25-39) Food: 6.5/10 Service: 3/5 Venue: 4/5 Total = 13.5/20 Barchetta 149 Marina Parade, Cottesloe 6011 | (08) 9385 2411 | http://www.barchetta.com.au/
Spontaneity is an uncommon occurrence for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, in fact quite the contrary it’s just that I can’t help but plan and organise things. I hate the thought that an element of enjoyment is missed out due to lack of foresight. But as I was running to my car during the heaviest part of the down pouring rain I got this burning desire to go out for the evening. We both work long hours and often have hectic busy days so most weeknights tend to be a sombre experience of crashing on the couch, eating dinner and watching television. I sat in my car drenched right through to the skin in my work clothes and phoned the boy who was still at work, half expecting him to decline the offer with protests of exhaustion and lack of motivation. His immediate response was yes! Wa-toot!
On the previous weekend, a group of us had a pub crawl up Beaufort Street and on our way to the Flying Scotsman we all dropped into Five Bar for a refreshing beverage to quench us for the uphill stagger to the Scotto. I remember making a mental note to return to try their tapas and so we did.
As you walk into Five Bar you almost feel like you are in someone’s oversized living room. There is a mismatched collection of lounge chairs, ottomans and crates to relax on and the interior is decorated with a similarly eclectic collection of lamps and oddities. As I sipped on my Hendricks and tonic, I felt all the tensions of my day smoothly melt away.
The menu is quite small with the majority of the dishes designed to be shared tapas-style. After requesting to our waitress for suitable gluten-free and onion free options, this menu unfortunately further narrowed down to a smaller handful of dishes.
The marinated olives contained a crowd pleaser selection of pitted and non-pitted, black and green, and in all sizes from jumbo through to the teeny-weeny Arbequina olives. They were all of excellent quality and very moreish.
The beef Carpaccio was dressed with cornichons, goat’s curd and capers, pine nuts, some fresh herbs and EVOO. The beef was sliced perfectly paper-thin but was a bit dry and lacked a little flavour. This was somewhat compensated for by the tarty goat’s curd however that shouldn’t really be the aim of this dish. A few extra lashings of olive oil may have improved this dish.
We were informed after ordering the chorizo that it may contain onions so I gave this a miss and let the boy munch his way through the generous sized serve. It seemed to be quite tender and juicy and disappeared with no complaints.
The slow-roasted mushrooms with Danish fetta, balsamic and chives were definitely one of the better dishes. I am a bit of a self-confessed mushroom addict. I really love their rich savoury flavour; in fact it would be safe to say I eat them daily. These mushrooms were roasted wonderfully. The chef has managed to capture and enhance all that delicious mushroomness I enjoy and the subtle tang of the balsamic gently cut through these flavours to then be followed by the more lingering creaminess of the fetta. We ended up ordering seconds!
The final tapas dish we ordered were the sweet potato frites served with a Moroccan spiced mayonnaise. These were very tasty albeit also a tad oily. Nevertheless I could have eaten more of them if I could fit them in!
We ended the evening with a duo of macarons – vanilla and coffee. After overindulging on some amazing macarons from Choux earlier in the week, unfortunately these ones were a bit of a disappointment. I enjoy the contrast of the crispy outer shell with the chewy nearly gooey centre. These ones were consistently chewy all the way through and showed none of the contrast in textures macarons are meant to have.
Given the popularity of tapas in Perth at the moment we are spoilt for choice. I walked away from Five Bar thinking there are better quality options for the price we paid and probably wouldn’t go out of my way to return there.
Venue 8.5/10 Service 7.8/10 Food 7/10Five Bar 560 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley | 0467 534 267
As high as a kite on French champagne and with Rochelle Adonis‘s exquisite high tea delicacies still swimming around on my palate, my friends and I skipped over the road from her studio to the Hotel Northbridge to extend our celebratory mood a little further into the afternoon. After leaving the bright and clean environment of Rochelle’s, the grimy stark reality of the empty pub was initially a little off putting but good company has a way of distracting your attention from these details and we soon sat to continue our chatter and giggling. Of course we wanted to continue drinking champagne and therefore we were all a tad disappointed to read the drinks menu only contained Australian bubbles. For an exorbitant $68 we got a bottle of Chandon Brut and ordered a tasting plate, salt and pepper squid, and fries.
The food arrived fairly quickly, but we were left totally confused as to how to ration four serviettes, three forks, four knives and one plate amongst the six of us. Odd. I would have also liked to have been informed when I placed my order for the food that the salt and pepper squid actually came on a bed of fries as we didn’t really need the second bowl. Needless to say one can see from the photo that the salt and pepper squid wasn’t really such. Deep fried battered squid would be a more appropriate description as the dusting was nearly thicker than the squid itself. The added touch of MasterFoods squeeze-on packets of sweet chilli, tartare and tomato sauces didn’t raise the appeal much either. If you want to charge me $17.50 for such a dish then you had better make an effort on presentation or at least increase the size of your serves to make it good value – this dish had only twelve small pieces of calamari!
Moving onto the tasting plate we were preparing ourselves for the worst. Seriously, what were we thinking coming from High tea to this? If only Rochelle let us have another course! The tasting plate contained a paltry four thin strips of Turkish bread, some tasteless cubes of fetta, two small bowls of watery inedible dips, a handful of jarred olives, a pile of chorizo, about one teaspoon of very scary looking sun-dried tomatoes and some olive oil. The chorizo was the low- light and no one could eat it. It had an unusual taste that wasn’t pleasant.
Disappointed with such poor quality food, a rebellious streak started to emerge from our little group. By this time our over-priced bottle of average sparkling was well and truly empty so we decided it would be a fabulous decision to sneakily pop open our remaining bottle of Cattier from high tea. Anyone tried to open champagne sneakily? After a delayed and unsuccessful attempt at smothering that wonderful popping sound with laughter and coughing, the bartender scurried over to inform us we cannot drink our own bottle. We offered to pay corkage but she wasn’t willing to bend the rules. Fair enough. One of my girlfriends surprisingly managed to squeeze the cork back into the bottle, only for it to pop out later at an impromptu time during our drive home whilst traveling on the back seat. Needless to say the car still smells like celebrations!
Service 5/10 venue 4/10 food 3/10Fuse Bar @ Hotel Northbridge Cnr Brisbane and Lake St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9328 5254 | www.hotelnorthbridge.com.au/bar.php
Living in the Vic Park/South Perth area we are spoilt for choice for dining locations, but sometimes you just want to relax at the pub. Being a little weary of our regular locals as a result of some recent poor customer service and lack of attention to detail, we decided to venture out of our usual stompin’ ground for a short distance over to West Perth to The Brown Fox.
We both had a pretty hectic week at work and were really craving some time to switch off and relax. The venue was great for stimulating conversation on this cold wintery night, and with the cosy dim light atmosphere it brought back memories of our London life. The service was excellent, with our waiter going to great lengths to ensure my food was allergy free and he ensured our glasses were never left empty for long. Even all the bar staff were full of smiles.
We ordered some frites, olives and almonds, and the goats cheese salad for starters. The frites were crispy and really good although the aioli wasn’t the best I’ve had. I would go back just for the frites! The almonds were seasoned and very moreish, and the olives had a variety of types to suit different tastes.
For main we both had the beef fillet – the meat cut was reasonable quality and was cooked perfectly. It was served with Paris mash which I felt was a little bland and needed seasoning.
Venue 8.5/10 service 8.5/10 food 7.5/10
PS Sorry about the horrendous quality photos – I forgot my camera and had to rely on my iPhone!The Brown Fox 72 Outram St, West Perth,6005 | (08) 9425 5222 | www.thebrownfox.com.au