I am refusing to let this back pain rule my life. When I originally injured it ten years ago, the pain overwhelmed me and I was terrified that I would never get back to my previous level of activity. This time round I am better prepared for the ride and thankfully my pain has been easier to control. It was my mother-in-law’s birthday a few weeks ago and it was at a point that I was still maxed out on my pain killers and mostly housebound. I was determined not to be beaten by this fact and agreed to join them for a lunch outing to celebrate.
To avoid having me seated in a car for too long, the Boy chose a local venue called Hopscotch Bar which is a new addition on Angelo Street in South Perth. This beautifully decked out bar is located in an old supermarket that remained vacant for some time after a storm blew its roof off last winter. I was glad to see they opted for a more modern and social way of dining with a small menu of share plates.
My parents-in-law are always so accommodating and generally let me order for everybody so that I don’t miss out. I think the truth of it is they like being able to sit back, relax and not have to stress about trivial things like what to eat or drink. Neither of them have any food intolerances nor are they fussy so it is an easy job for me.
We started with the free range chicken wings which I was originally told were gluten free provided I didn’t eat the sauce so the waitress ordered the sauce to be served on the side. After placing our order she came back and informed me that the chef wanted to advise that the oil may be contaminated with gluten as he had fried food with a flour coating prior to cooking the wings. This level of knowledge about gluten inspired great confidence in me. It is such a relief to know the chef already understands the basics of cross contamination when it comes to feeding a Coeliac.
Many of the small plates were able to have gluten free crackers substituted for bread leaving us quite a few options to enjoy. The duck liver pâté was smooth, smearable and richly flavoured although the jar made it a little difficult to serve easily. I cannot say I’m a fan of the trend of serving food in jars. I always feel like it is a short cut way to serve things rather than making an effort to plate the food up.
One of the vegetarian dishes of quinoa tossed with kale, mushrooms and goats cheese was a more substantial size and reasonably priced. It appeared that they had run out of kale and substituted spinach instead. The mushrooms had a wonderful meatiness to them and I could have happily eaten this dish to myself. But then again I am a mushroom addict!
The jamon-wrapped salmon fillets were served on a bed of cauliflower purée and topped with grilled asparagus and microherbs. The crispy jamon gave a great textural contrast to the softly cooked fish and I was pleased to note the salmon was cooked to have a satisfying dark pink centre. I get cranky when my salmon is overcooked as I believe it ruins it.
Neither of the desserts on the menu were gluten free however the Earl Grey pannacotta could be easily adapted by the omission of the shortbread biscuit. It had the requisite wobbly movement and the hint of bergamot aromas were so uplifting.
The Boy ordered the chocolate pudding to share based purely on the addition of vanilla ice cream. Ice cream really is his weakness. The “Sailor Jerry” chocolate pudding was irrelevant to him and he left it for his parents to enjoy instead. He can be easily pleased sometimes. Sometimes I said! 😉
Angelo Street was in dire need of somewhere cool that took it beyond the realms of sandwich bars and brunch spots. I look forward to seeing how Hopscotch Bar fits into the scene and will definitely be returning.
Hopscotch Bar | 79 Angelo Street, South Perth WA | 0418 399 966 | Facebook
For people who eat out regularly the Entertainment Book is an essential annual purchase. It is a book containing hundreds of discounts available for many of the popular restaurants around your chosen capital city in Australia. The books can be purchased through many worthwhile charities and a proportion of the sale price goes to the charity who is selling it. This year we bought ours from the Cancer Council of WA. One of the things I love about the Book is that not only do we get discounts from many of our favourite restaurants but it also encourages us to check out ones we wouldn’t ordinarily visit. Having worked all weekend I felt the need to make the most of the final shreds of sunshine so I flipped through our copy to look for somewhere local that was open for lunch. The Dux café is on South Terrace in Como and have actually been in the area for over ten years. It is a cosy little restaurant that has a strong local following and hosts sell-out degustations and wine dinners on a regular basis.
Dux Café have a number of gluten free options and the chef is happy to adapt other options to make them gluten free. We started with the trio of dips with assorted breads and some gluten free toast on the side for me. The dips included a smooth hummus, a spicy capsicum dip and some olive oil with balsamic. I am guessing the absence of the third dip meant that it wasn’t gluten free.
I was in the mood for share food so we ordered the tasting plate which I was told has components that could be done gluten free. The “prawn duo” consisted of local tiger prawns simply grilled alongside some prawn croquettes that weren’t gluten free. It was served on a bed of fresh home grown herbs, mango, chilli and cherry tomatoes. It would have been good if the croquette was served on a different plate to avoid contamination of crumbs.
On the opposite side of the platter was a gluten free crispy squid salad with house cured streaky bacon and nam jim dressing. The squid was slightly chewy but when eaten in one mouthful along with the salad it packed a powerful punch of flavour. In the middle of the platter was a Persian feta and fig tart with caramelised shallots and basil. As this was obviously this was not gluten free so I left that for the Boy to enjoy while I tucked into the spicy squid salad.
Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to share all of the platter I also ordered the sautéed exotic mushrooms with creamy sherry vinegar sauce. I would normally order such a dish for breakfast but as many of you may know by now I’m a little nuts for my mushrooms. There were a whole array of different types of mushrooms in there and I was grateful I had gluten free bread on the side to soak up all the creamy naughtiness left in the bottom of the bowl.
We didn’t really NEED dessert but then that never really is the point of dessert is it? I loved the sound of the “Dux trinket tray” and was even more intrigued when our waiter confirmed it was gluten free.
Scattered across the plate were indeed a collection of sweet trinkets as described including triangles of soft white chocolate fudge, raspberry jubes, a large Dux Pedro truffle, thick chunks of honeycomb and some crystalline pistachio praline. Whilst definitely not for the diabetically inclined, this sugar hit had a wonderful balance of elements and fitted in well with our whole concept of sharing a variety of small nibbles for lunch.
Dux offer an alternate dining option for those looking for a relaxed café with a bit of finesse away from the Vic Park and South Perth café strips. Whilst the savoury dishes that we chose did not leave me spinning with excitement, our dessert was something quite interesting and definitely something I would be keen to return back for.Dux Restaurant 71 South Terrace, Como WA 6152 | (08) 9474 9000 | www.duxrestaurant.com.au Price: $$$ (Lunch menu $10-22, Entrée $18-20, Mains $33-39) Food: 6/10 (loved the trinkets and the creamy mushrooms) Service: 2.5/5 (initially attentive but became very slow, waited ages to order dessert) Ambience: 2.5/5 (has a tidy café feel) Drinks: N/A Total: 12/20
This afternoon marked the inaugural AHA International Great Waiters Race held over in Claisebrook Cove, East Perth. As part of my official Eat Drink Perth reporting duties I planned to attend this event knowing there would be a number of gluten free options for me to enjoy in the Gourmet Food Village. I took it for granted that the Boy would feel the same way and was quite disappointed when my attempts to convince him to join me failed miserably. It was raining, he had study to do and apparently the idea simply did not appeal to him. As I resigned myself to attend alone, he suggested that we go somewhere local instead and check out the International Vegetarian and Vegan Food Fair at the South Perth Community Centre. I couldn’t find a lot about this food fair on the internet so being curious I obliged to his wish.
Whilst I would never called myself a strict vegetarian, I do eat a predominantly vegetarian diet. I would only really eat meat once or twice a week and it tends to be more of a garnish to the meal than the central point of it. The Boy on the other hand will go out of his way to avoid eating meat and is much more compliant with his vegetarianism than I.
The International Vegetarian and Vegan Food Fair is into its tenth year and they are moving to holding the annual event twice yearly as it has become very popular. The Fair is run by the Dao Ji Association of Perth in order to raise funds for their not for profit organisation. There is a very family friendly vibe with most stall holders very obliging to help work out what is gluten free. There were a wide variety of Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Chinese dishes to try.
All the stall holders had a full list of ingredients on display which made it easy to narrow down which dishes to ask further details with respect to their gluten free status. Most of the mock meats contained gluten however some stall holders used a tofu based product instead. One of my favourite starters were the highly addictive taro and sweet potato rolls. The rice noodle netting was so super crunchy that it was hard to eat without making a lot of noise. Inside the rolls soft, subtly sweet mashed taro and sweet potato felt lusciously smooth and silky in texture.
The Boy had free rein to try whatever he liked as obviously all the dishes were vegetarian and in fact the vast majority of them were also vegan. He really enjoyed the mock fish balls which had a strong, salty flavour. He also tried the “pork” crackling which was made using wheat flour however he didn’t think these were nearly as tasty as his fish balls.
For my main dish I chose the nasi lemek, a beautifully fragrant rice dish made with coconut milk and pandan leaves. The rice accompanied a richly flavoured curry made from coconut milk, galangal, potato, carrot, tofu based mock chicken, chilli and lemongrass. Some fresh cucumber, fried peanuts and tofu skin were served on the side. It was a substantially filling dish and left me feeling pleasantly content.
The Boy ordered the Thai green curry which was made using mock chicken. His dish wasn’t gluten free so I sadly didn’t not get to try any of it however he did comment that my curry tasted much better than his. What a nice change that makes, the gluten free dish tastes better than the normal option!
I couldn’t walk past the Thai sweets stall without buying some layer cake or as it is known in Thai, khanom chan. This dessert was the highlight of the night markets in Thailand as I always knew that they would be gluten free. They have a gelatinous sticky texture with a lovely coconut taste. I planned to take my serve home but ended up eating them all while the Boy wandered off looking for his dessert choice.
He settled on the vegan equivalent of ice cream; ice kachang. For those of you who haven’t travelled in South-east Asia chances are you may not have tried this super sweet dessert. Firstly, a variety of beans, sweet corn, bread and jelly is served and then this is topped with super fine ice shavings. The ice is then drizzled with brightly coloured flavour syrups and condensed milk.
The ice particles are so small that they dissolve on contact with your tongue releasing all the flavours of the syrup. I wasn’t sure if this would be the Boy’s kind of thing but he happily polished off the lot which indicates to me it was a winner.
I cannot believe this fabulous day out has been happening in Perth for a decade and I had no idea of its existence. We had a great day out and I have no regrets missing out on my original plan of attending the Waiters Race. It is an event for all food lovers regardless of whether you are a strict vegan, vegetarian or you are just someone who realises that there are huge environmental, ethical and health benefits if you eat less meat in your diet.
Some of you may think I’m a bit insane throwing myself head first into the Mushroom Mania celebrations every year but I can assure you I am not the only one. In addition to a number of bloggers from around the country, there are many local chefs and food producers that join in the mushroomy celebrations. Last week I introduced you to Cris from Perth City Farm who is totally mad for his mushrooms, nurturing them carefully from spores to fruit with tenderness and loving care. And it shows; his mushrooms are packed full of flavour and were so meaty I swear they nearly tasted like chicken. For the second post in my Mushroom Mania series this year, I wanted to take it beyond just eating one or two mushrooms dishes. I wanted to find a talented chef who was willing to make me a whole mushroom themed degustation. I approached Chef Scott O’Sullivan from the award-winning Red Cabbage Food and Wine in South Perth to see if he was keen. It turns out that he and his wife are big mushroom fans and he jumped at the opportunity to join in the fun!
On arrival we were greeted warmly by Hazel O’Sullivan and shown to our table where our own personal mushroom menus were laid out ready for us. As my eyes gazed over each delicious looking course I knew we were in for a special treat. To start us off for the night, thickly sliced and toasted gluten free sour dough with olives and truffled honey were brought to the table. There was also some fresh brioche for the boy to eat that wasn’t gluten free. The sour dough was soft with a lovely slightly sour after taste and it soaked up the truffled honey thirstily.
The truffle honey was, as I’m sure any of you who have tried it before, totally exquisite and was further enhanced by the addition of some fragrant fresh thyme. I was glad I brought my glucose tablets to counter act the fructose content in the honey so I could enjoy it liberally with minimal consequences. To be honest…even if I had forgotten those glucose tablets, I would have happily endured the suffering anyway. The honey was THAT good.
Our second course arrived under a large glass dome filled with smoke. I love theatrics when I’m out dining; it makes the whole experience so much more of a show and brings some of the magic that happens in the kitchen out to us at the table.
The richly earthy flavours of fresh smoked shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms were the ideal amuse bouche for the commencement of this mushroom journey. The gluten free croutons were crunchy without being overly hard and left a sumptuous lingering buttery flavour in my mouth.
Our next course of duck lasagne and seared scallops were a creative play on textures. Pig’s ear mushrooms were dehydrated to dry them out and then deep fried so that they had the consistency of potato crisps. Combined with the velvety soft scallops and duck this was truly a wondrous dish. Being truffle season here in Western Australia, I was so pleased to see these fabulous fungi made a recurrent feature across our evening meal with some truffle jus drizzled romantically over this dish. Sorry you don’t get a visual on this one folks!
I love it when food is synonymous with art and as our evening progressed I began to understand that Chef Scott shares a similar passion. Each dish was presented in a precise and methodical manner with every component so carefully planned and prepared. The marron and salmon pastrami matched well with the stronger flavours of the shimeji and shiitake mushrooms. There were crisp fried nuggets of sunchoke, dollops of carrot purée and mushroom ketchup along with lashings of sticky sweet soy caramel.
Most excitingly, my truffle obsession was fuelled furthermore with generous shavings of fresh Manjimup truffle falling across my plate like millionaire’s snowflakes.
Like many, I am a macaron addict. These little morsels are as good a pick-me-up for me as a block of chocolate and the very thought of eating them always makes me all girlie and excitable. Over the years I have tried all sorts of macaron flavours as they are such a versatile little treat with the incredible capacity to contain a wide variety of flavours. However I have never eaten a MUSHROOM macaron before so I was so impressed with this course. A gorgeous little cep mushroom macaron sat perched on a parsnip stalk laying on bed of olive and white chocolate snow with a scoop of parsnip ice cream. Too cute!
For our final main course those distinctly flavoured little chanterelle mushrooms featured alongside succulent venison and creamy cubes of foie gras. On a bed of celeriac puree and scattered with pistachios and fresh cherries, the sweet and sour aspects of this dish complemented the venison magically. Buried in amongst all the treasure was a cherry “bomb”. Cherry puree and cherry vinegar encased in a thin film made from a seaweed gelling agent exploded with a POW in my mouth releasing so much flavour my eyes nearly watered. Incredible!
Our next course is one of my favourite parts of a degustation; the cheese course. This cheese course was like no other I have tried before. Expecting some slivers of cheese, crackers and slices of fruit I fascinated to see that Chef Scott put just as much creative thought into this course as he had the rest of the meal. A smear of subtly sweet pumpkin puree was sprinkled with crumbled Irish Cashel Blue cheese and Lancashire cheddar. Instead of some comparatively boring slices of pear there was a scoop of soft pear sorbet.
As our degustation started to draw to a close I reflected back on what we had eaten so far and was surprised with the modest size of dishes. This is a degustation for the hungry; they are quite generous with portion sizes considering we had nine courses to get through yet I wasn’t feeling excessively overindulged. I was chuffed to see that two of the nine courses were desserts and I recall the desserts at Red Cabbage being very memorable. Our first dessert course was called apple, quince and rhubarb. This relatively messy looking dish interestingly gave a different sensation with each mouthful by alternating with textures, temperatures, sweetness, creaminess and tarty sourness.
You cannot go wrong serving me a dessert that is based on chocolate. It is (one) of my true Achilles heels and I struggle to avoid binging on it if it is in the cupboard at home. For our final course in this evening of excellence we were served a soft cube of chocolate mousse surrounded by chocolate and coffee “rocks” and accompanied a velvety scoop of brown butter ice cream. This was such a wonderful way to end our evening.
The service to our table for the whole night was absolutely seamless with Hazel providing me with some excellent wine matching recommendations. Having visited Red Cabbage a number of times some year ago, I was impressed to see how this restaurant has grown and matured to have their own signature style of artistic food that I expect from other top venues in Perth such as Restaurant Amuse. Their passion for quality and service shines through and we both look forward to returning again in the near future.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 mouth-watering 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. Red Cabbage Food + Wine 49/15 Labouchere Road, South Perth WA 6151 | (08) 9367 5744 | http://redcabbagefoodandwine.com.au/
After such a magical time away in Thailand for our wedding, coming back to the humdrum reality of house work, cooking and cleaning felt like a kick in the face. To make matters worse, our maxed out cards and empty bank accounts meant we both had to return promptly back to work and start earning some cash. After a week of living like millionaires at Andara with a maid and a personal chef, the idea of returning to boring home cooked food sounded as tempting as eating my own arm.
The day before we both went back to work we begrudgingly headed off to our local greengrocer Scutti’s for our weekly food shop. It was the first time in nearly three weeks that we had to do such a chore and as we parked the car we were both looked longingly at each other for a solution. The idea of a temporary escape by delaying the shopping and heading over the road to a café for lunch sounded promising. Shoving my shopping list deep into my handbag we strolled over to Halo Espresso.
After all the rich food we ate on our stopover in Singapore my stomach was in dire need of something healthy and light. With this in mind I opted for a spinach salad with chicken served with avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and gluten free bread and the Boy ordered a steak sandwich. As I handed over a fifty dollar note for our two meals and one coffee I was surprised that it wasn’t enough and rummaged in my bag for some extra change. I hoped the meals would be worth the reasonably high prices.
As we took our seats near the front window I noticed a big A-frame sign out the front saying “Best Coffee in WA”. I have to be honest as there is no way that I have tried every place in WA worth trying to know if this is actually is the best coffee however I can agree that it is extremely good and injected a much needed boost into my downer of a day. Unfortunately Halo’s food does not match up to their wonderful coffee. My spinach salad was dripping in copious amounts of dressing, oil coating each and every glistening spinach leaf and to add to the unctuous burden, my toast tasted like it had been laden thick with butter before it was toasted. The additional of some dry chicken in no way improved the dish either as it was flavourless. My only consolation was all the oil made the overcooked chicken more palatable.
The Boy’s steak sandwich was a bit better than my choice however in no way impressed him considering the price. The cheese was half melted and half hard, the steak very thin and dry and his side salad had no dressing at all! Instead of giving us one last hurrah before heading back to work, we were left somewhat unsatisfied and with a lighter wallet than expected. I would probably only go back there again for the coffee.Halo Espresso 82 Angelo Street, South Perth 6151 WA | (08) 9367 4444 Price: $$ Food: 2/5 (disappointing considering the calibre of the coffee) Service: 2.5/5 (quick but not very welcoming or friendly) Ambience: 2/5 (very noisy dining room, we could barely hear each other and it was half full) Drinks: 4.5/5 (great coffee) Total: 11/20
With only a few days to go before we fly out for our wedding in Thailand, I was feeling stressed and under the pump. I had taken the last week off work to finish of all the last-minute things however the more I got done the more I found I still had to do. Despite being so time-poor I needed some time out and openly welcomed a proposal for a quick catch up over breakfast from a close friend Tracy. She was soon to be joining us in Thailand and wanted to meet up before we left.
Last time we saw each other was during another breakfast date at Sayers Sister. Hustling for a car park in Northbridge was such a pain but our meals we enjoyed there were worth it. This time round to save time I chose somewhere more local that I had heard good things about on Foodie Craving’s blog; Gusto Food, South Perth.
Our coffees were literally being prepared as we were ordering our food and so no sooner had we sat down than they were brought over to our table. My macchiato was made just how I like it, with just a dash of milk and no more. Gusto uses an imported brand of premium Italian coffee Caffé Saccaria.
Our first ten minutes of conversation centred on my recent wedding planning endeavours and all the enjoyment and stress that come with it. Tracy and I don’t get to catch up very often so it was great fun to share what details I could without spoiling anything for her.
Being so short of time I was thankful our meals arrived quickly. I ordered some poached eggs on gluten free toast and Tracy ordered the French toast. To our surprise out came the most massive serve of thick cut French toast piled high with bacon, berries and caramelised bananas. There were even chunks of honeycomb perched on top. What incredible value. There was no way I could see Trace getting through it all. She informed me the only complaint she had with her dish was the bacon was too fatty, but otherwise worth the indulgence!
I had already been up for a several hours and had my first breakfast, so I figured being a bride I had best limit the size of my second breakfast of the day! In my hurry and fluster I forgot to get the all-important egg goo shot for those fans out there but suffice to say one of my eggs got the tick of approval, my other egg was soft but goo-less.
My side serve of roasted tomato and spinach really stole the show with this meal. The spinach was slippery soft and immersed in very naughty amounts of melted butter. The tomato had been roasted with balsamic sweetness and served with the cutest little skewer. If both my eggs were poached to heavenly I would be tempted to say this was one of the better breakfasts I have had in a long time. I will have to return again before making my final judgement.Gusto Food 86 Angelo Street, South Perth WA 6151 | (08) 9367 3512 | Facebook Price: $$ ($15-20 per meal) Food: 3.5/5 (lost marks for the fatty bacon and firm egg) Service: 4.5/5 (so quick and attentive despite being reasonably busy) Ambience: 3.5/5 (cute café vibe) Drinks: 4/5 (creamy, not too bitter and just the right temperature) Total: 15.5/20
The Bestie’s birthday weekend fortunately coincided with her parent’s return from their month-long holiday in Vietnam. Her parents live in southern Western Australian in a town called Esperance which is about a ten hour drive from Perth. This means she doesn’t get to see them as often as she would like and having them in Perth for her birthday was a bit of a treat. To make the most of the occasion, she agreed to stretch out her celebrations over two nights starting with her parents cooking up a storm for us at their friends’ house followed by a casual night out at the Karalee Tavern in Como.
During our time living in London, it was a common occurrence for the Bestie, the Boy and I to visit a number of run down English Pubs. Horrendous food and cheap drinks would be served well past the old fashioned pub curfew under the premise of a “lock out”. These were crazy times and there is a little part of each of us that wistfully longs for those hedonistic days gone by. I’m got the feeling that was part of the vibe she was going for by choosing The Karalee as especially since Chompchomp’s creation we have a tendency to go more popular or newly established venues. Despite the fact the windows at Karalee face out onto the Como foreshore, it was near impossible to see through the smudgy cloudy glass and even with a recent revamp of their décor I still felt trapped in the nineties.
To my complete surprise there were a number of gluten free options marked on their menu. Of course the Bestie had kindly thought ahead and made sure we were going somewhere where I could eat something. I started with the char-grilled calamari served with tomato kasundi, warmed chick peas salad with a lemon dressing. The kasundi had none of the spiciness I would expect in this Indian relish and the chickpeas had that flavourless powderiness I can only expect came from a can. The calamari was ever so slightly overcooked and chewy. Not a good start.
The Bestie ordered the grilled chilli and garlic tiger prawns. Four small shelled Tiger prawns sat perched on a few triangles of cold toasted Turkish bread. Although the prawns looked a little dry to me, I didn’t taste them so cannot pass a true judgement.
The Bestie and I both ordered the veal saltimbocca. The veal medallions tasted like overcooked cardboard and literally sucked all the moisture from out of my mouth. I’m sure it took me a good five minutes to chew each mouthful. I was thankful for the crunchy prosciutto topping to add some flavour into all that blandness. The thick creamy mushroom sauce did nothing to improve the meal nor did the unseasoned gritty block of set polenta that was meant to be crispy.
The Boy ordered the slow cooked lamb shank with sweet potato and maple syrup mash and roasted broccolini. The succulent lamb collapsed effortlessly off the bone and was accompanied by moans of approval and enjoyment. I often put a dash of maple syrup in my pumpkin and sweet potato mash when cooking at home. As long as you only put a dash it serves to provide a subtle lingering to the already dulcet flavours of the vegetables. Although the texture of this mash could have been creamier, they were cautious enough not to overdo it with the maple and its hint of flavour was balanced just right. The broccolini was burnt to a crisp which completely sabotaged any sense of its flavour other than charcoal.
The Bestie’s Mum ordered the roasted sticky glazed pork belly. It was curiously paired with a mound of potato mash and sesame tossed Asian greens. The pork was buttery smooth with crunchy crackling and she was left feeling very full and satisfied.
The meal sizes at Karalee are generous meaning this is a good place to come if you want value for money. If quality is more what you look for in a night out I suggest you look elsewhere.The Karalee on Preston 25 Preston Street Como WA 6152 | (08) 9367 1848 | www.thekaralee.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrée $12-16, Mains $23-38) Food: 2/5 (very average, poor execution and odd combinations of ingredients) Service: 3/5 (a little slow but friendly enough for a sports bar) Ambience: 2.5/5 (despite the potential views, ambiance is definitely lacking) Drinks: 2.5/5 (average wine list, nothing exciting) Total: 10/20
I have very fond memories of my last time at Matilda Bay Restaurant with two of my favourite people in my life; the Boy and my dearest Mum. It was Christmas Day lunch some years ago and it remains one of our most relaxing and stress-free Christmas’s to date. So when the Boy invited me to join him there on a business dinner recently I didn’t have to hesitate in my response!
Being so food obsessed is proving to be my Achilles heel by hindering my success in achieving the svelte bride body that I want. I have a bad habit of over eating and seem to enjoy the feeling of being insanely full. My solution is simply to focus on eating less for the last six months in the lead up to the big day. This night out was to be the last night of uninhibited eating before the frustrations of restriction begun so I wanted to go out with a bang.
You can only imagine my disappointment when a few hours before we were to all meet for dinner, the Boy was informed by email that the invitation didn’t extend to partners. Knowing how much I was looking forward to the evening and presuming the refusal was due to a strict budget, the Boy explained that we were not expecting a free meal and I was more than happy to pay my own way. Unfortunately this wasn’t good enough for the agency and after receiving a fairly patronising reply the Boy’s blood started to boil.
Not wanting to disappoint his food obsessed wife-to-be, he softened the blow of the bad news to me by offering to still take me out somewhere nice. We toyed with the idea of getting a table right next to the one I got booted off at Matilda Bay purely for entertainment value. However after briefly thinking about this further we figured that probably wouldn’t gone down so well! After a few unsuccessful calls to some favourite venues, he managed to secure us a reservation at InContro in South Perth. We even managed to get a table with city and river views. (My apologies in advance for the photos…even Gordon didn’t cope in such low level lighting!)
InContro offers a style of dining they call “piccolo dining” which is a bit like a Mediterranean version of tapas. They create small dishes for the entire table to share and it is brought to the table in a tiered rack reminding me of years gone by where I shared High Tea with my Dad and stepmum at Brown’s Hotel in London. After discussing my allergies with our waitress, she offered for the chef to select appropriate dishes to make up a two courses of a piccolo experience. Not being in the mood for anything specific, the Boy and I both smiled at each other and chose to go ahead with her recommendation. I love surprises!
Each course contained three carefully selected and quite interesting dishes using lots of fresh seasonal local produce. The succulent frenched Dorper lamb cutlets were topped with Moroccan spiced cauliflower. The sweet tasting cumin paired harmoniously with the tender lamb leaving me wishing we had more.
Our seared scallops were plump with a crisp browned surface and a nearly creamy centre of amazingness. On a bed of pea puree and topped with crispy shreds of prosciutto these little morsels were nearly as moreish as the cutlets. I was pretty excited about what else was to come.
Our third entrée was simply described as a lobster salad. A fairly decent serve of decadent lobster sat innocently hidden underneath a handful of shredded greens. Further hiding below the lobster was bite sized chunks of thoroughly dressed avocado, tomato and fresh herbs. Although this dish wasn’t much to look at, each mouthful was bursting with flavour.
The sticky Black Angus short rib was the “to die for” dish of the evening. Unfortunately my photos didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked them to due to the beef sitting at the top of the three levelled tier. Not being a very tall person I really struggled to steady my camera. Of course my lack of hand stability that had nothing to do with the three glasses of Billecart I had drunk previously. Not at all.
The meat didn’t just fall off the bone it slivered off and dissolved in the mouth like cotton candy. The marinade was thick, sticky and subtly sweet and neither of us could help ourselves as we scraped the remaining sauce off the board with our forks, trying to savour its flavour for as long as possible.
In my excitement of this final night of excess I had not bothered to go through the nitty gritty of my fructose malabsorption with our waitress. I had purely just requested no gluten or no onion. Thus I did have to sift through our pork dish to avoid the little cubes of pear. The pork belly had just the right balance of fat, meat and crackling and didn’t leave any unpleasant porkiness taste in my mouth. The crackling gave a satisfyingly loud crunch as I bit into it.
The salad to accompany our mains dishes contained shaved fennel, pear and candied walnut. Again I had to dodge the pear (my own fault) which was easy enough to do. The salad was light and refreshing on the palate after the two heavier meat dishes.
For dessert the Boy ordered his ice cream as per usual; as you may already know it is fairly uncommon for him to ever order anything else for dessert. I settled for the only gluten free dessert option which was the polenta cake with butterscotch ice cream. It was moist and didn’t crumble apart but the butterscotch ice cream was a little sickly sweet for my liking.
InContro is a great local option if we feel like a night out with a bit more class than casual. We have dined here on several occasions over the years and have never been disappointed with either the food or service and they take good diligence in catering to those with allergies. Of course we will be back.InContro 79 South Perth Esplanade, South Perth 6151 | (08) 9474 5566 | www.incontro.com.au Price: $$$$ (Piccolo $9-16/dish, Entrees $22-28, Mains $35-48) Food: 4.5/5 (sticky beef ribs were out of this world) Service: 4/5 (attentive, efficient despite a full house) Ambience: 5/5 (views of Perth city skyline, how can it get better?) Drinks: 4/5 (great wine list but I confess I stuck to my Billecart all night!) Total: 17.5/20