Despite knowing that the menu at Ace Pizza is devoid of gluten free pizza options, this has been a venue that has remained on my wish list for some time. Don’t be fooled by their name, whilst I’m told Ace’s pizzas are far from shabby it’s their share plates that I was keen to try. Being paid monthly means when we hit the end of the month we are scratching for a cheap place to eat out without compromising on our needs for quality or flavour. I was hoping Ace Pizza would fulfil this basic need.
Dishes are certainly cheap, reasonably sized and served with lickity split, no fuss speed. Perhaps too much so as within about ten minutes of placing our order all of our dishes had made their way to our table. There were a number of gluten free and vegetarian options to suit both our needs however as is often the case, we ordered far too much food.
The grilled corn was a refreshing way to start with each of the juicy cobs lavishly drizzled in thick chilli mayo and balsamic.
The beet salad came with crunchy walnuts and dollops of whipped salted ricotta. The ricotta had the texture of soft serve giving a great play in textures with the remaining ingredients.
I was in a rare mood for a morsel of red meat and ordered the chop chop beef without the bread. There was sadly no gluten free replacement for the bread which would have been a nice touch. I confess that after having eaten the steak tartare a bunch of times at Rockpool I am yet to find a match of that calibre elsewhere in Perth. Whilst Ace’s chop chop beef was enjoyable it lacked the smooth finesse and fresh aftertaste of Perry’s signature version. I reminded myself that it was also half the price.
The squid was my favourite dish of the evening with the surprising element of super crunchy deep fried chickpeas mixed with rings of squid all drizzled in generous lashings of chilli aioli. I love it when you don’t have to ask for more aioli! The Boy and I have a bad habit of eating quickly and before we gave our stomachs a chance to register what we had already eaten, we jumped ahead to ordering another dish; the crispy potatoes with Nduja mayo.
Nduja is a spicy spreadable type of Italian pork sausage typically made using the shoulder, belly and jowls along with the stomach lining (tripe). I wasn’t sure how this would work in a mayo. Basically it turns the mayo into some sort of strange meat sauce. The Boy was horrified at the mere sound of this yet once the dish was brought to our table he couldn’t resist a taste. The spuds were perfectly crispy with soft velvety centres and the “meat sauce” was in no way overwhelming. I decided I was certain there would be no room for any more food after this.
Exploding at the seams we paid our super cheap bill and with some spare change in our pockets we agreed to waddle up the street to Enrique’s School for to Bullfighting for a night cap. On Sundays, Enrique’s serves their signature sangria for $5 per person – a total bargain. It is served with a cute little jar of sherbet for an added element of zing.
After a round of drinks I became aware that I did indeed have a teeny bit more room to end our night of cheap gluttony. Neither of us could agree on whether we ordered sweet or savoury so to avoid a squabble we ordered one of each. The Boy’s choice was a hard goats cheese; Queso de cabra Pedro Ximenez. This is a smooth semi-soft cheese that is bathed in Pedro Ximenez wine for four months. It was quite a dense almost elastic cheese with a slightly sweet flavour.
My choice was the gluten free dessert option. Hardly surprising really, I mean, shouldn’t I make use of that second stomach of mine? 😉 The gluten free dessert option was a Pannacotta served with honeycomb, salted caramel ice cream and chocolate soil. I was initially confused by our first waiter who told me that the chocolate soil wasn’t gluten free. Thus when it was served to us with the soil I humbly asked for it to be sent back to the kitchen. I hate being a pain in restaurants but it’s not like I can just eat around the gluten on the plate!
Returning from the kitchen our second waiter had double checked with the chef and thankfully assured me that the whole dish was actually gluten free. I nervously ate it hopeful that I was given the right advice, whilst grateful that I could eat it as it was the bomb! I had absolutely no ill effect that evening and have since contacted management who confirmed that this is correct, the dish is completely gluten free. Bit of a mix up but it was all good in the end.
Ace and Enrique’s are both affordable places to hit up for a decent meal when you’re on a bit of a budget but want more than just fast food. The music is pumped up loud, the lights are dimmed and the service is quick and friendly.Chompchomp dined at Ace and Enrique on her meagre end of month budget with an equal contribution from the Boy. Ace Pizza 448 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0499 448 000 | www.acepizza.com.au Price $$ Share plates $6-32, Pizzas $15-26 (no GF pizza available)
Enrique’s School for to Bullfighting 484 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0438 248 414 | Facebook
Geographical separation has never had any impact on the bond I have with my best friend, Kate. Through the course of our fifteen years of Bestie-hood we have only lived in the same city for about half this time. We are not that good at regularly calling each other on the phone, in fact we are both shockers, yet within seconds of hearing each other’s voice we immediately lapse into our crazy way of talking that no one else on this Earth can ever seem to replicate. It’s actually like our own language. We have a way of bringing out the best in each other and I know that if anyone can turn my frown upside-down it will most definitely be Kate.
Twelve months ago Kate returned to her home-town of Esperance to complete her yoga teacher training with the aim to open her own yoga studio specialising in kid’s yoga. I envisaged this to be a slow process and was so surprised and excited to hear that less than a year after she moved away her studio was ready to be opened. I am so proud of her determination to make this long-term dream a reality and upon hearing the brilliant news I promptly booked some last minute flights to zip down and spend the weekend with her.
We booked accommodation at the Esperance Island View apartments which is located on the Esplanade and is only a short walk to the shops and restaurants. Our two bedroom apartment had two storeys with a large kitchen and living area, and most importantly excellent heating. This is something I have learnt to appreciate after our recent stay in Pemberton for Truffle Kerfuffle at an unnamed chalet location that had no heating other than a pot belly stove!
For our first night together we walked down to the Pier Hotel, a massive pub with separate bistro and bar areas, a cocktail lounge and the only night club in town. We sat down in the toasty bistro area by the open fire and made ourselves quite cosy.
The bistro menu has gluten free items clearly marked on the menu and most of the salad bar was also gluten free. Our waitress was kind enough to double check everything for me which was a thoughtful gesture. We each started off with a serve of drunken oysters. Served three ways, the oysters were surprisingly fresh and salty.
My favourite oyster of the three was the tequila shot which was served with a generous splash of tomato juice. The Jack Daniels Kilpatrick oyster was everyone’s least favourite. I found the bacon to be dry and flavourless with a barely discernible taste of bourbon. Not such a bad thing as I don’t particularly like bourbon.
My choice for main course was the Thai style barramundi, a grilled barra fillet cooked in curry sauce with basil, chilli and coconut cream. It is normally served with a pistachio and capsicum couscous but the gluten free option offers chips or mash as a replacement. Whilst it was quite an unsightly dish, the fish was cooked beautifully and the curry sauce was not overpowering. It would have been better paired with some steamed rice instead of mash.
With a day and a half to explore, we saw only a brief snippet of Esperance and its surrounds yet what I did see left me blown away by this remote town’s rugged beauty. Imagine long stretches of beaches with the whitest sand in Australia where the water is so vividly blue it almost doesn’t look real. It was breathtaking. One of the most special moments we shared was seeing a mother whale and her calf in the bay at Hellfire beach. Every time a tail fin would gracefully plunge out of the water both of us couldn’t hold back emitting loud sighs of amazement. I regretted not bringing my zoom lens with me!
Being in the middle of winter, Esperance’s weather can be unpredictable and can turn from clear blue skies to thundering storms quicker than I expected. After walking the Rotary Lookout circuit walk on Wireless Hill, we stopped to catch our breath in a little gazebo and watched a storm coming in over the coast for just long enough to avoid getting wet. Once the rain hit, we journeyed back into town for an afternoon snack at Taylors Beach café before popping into see her parents.
Taylors Beach café is situated overlooking the Bay of Isles and has been a local icon for many years. They have live music on Sunday afternoons and are open seven days. We only wanted a light snack to go with our drinks as we were heading out for dinner later that evening.
We started off with some French bubbles which is something of a tradition for the two of us. We have been known to spend ridiculous amounts of money that we don’t really have on bottles of exquisite French champagne so I figured we needed to keep on with our tradition to some degree; even if Grandin isn’t strictly Champagne it is French! 😉
Taylors have a small bites menu however unfortunately I was sternly informed that there was only one dish that could be served gluten free; the grilled scallops. There were six scallops served in the shell lightly grilled and seasoned with garlic and olive oil.
I made the error of eating some of the garnish in the middle of the dish which left a mouldy flavour in my mouth, ruining any further enjoyment of the scallops. The Boy and Kate took heed and avoided eating any greens meaning their scallop experience was much more enjoyable.
Fuelled with the warmth of a round of drinks, we visited her parents for a brief lesson on clipping cat’s claws. Betty Lois and Doris are ex-farm cats who are affectionately known collectively as The Girls. They were on their best behaviour which made for short work of my vet consult allowing us to celebrate with another round of drinks before heading out on the town to the Loose Goose for dinner.
The Loose Goose is one of the fine dining options in town and offers set dinner prices of $45.50 for one course, $57.50 for two courses and $67.50 for three courses. This price includes complimentary herb or garlic bread and a side salad or vegetables with the main meals. They did not have any gluten free bread on offer.
In our usual celebratory mode, we all chose to enjoy three courses. It is not often that we get to dine out together and the logical approach was to make the most of it. The Boy’s starter was a thick slab of Camembert cheese wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden brown. A rather inelegant blob of mild chilli plum sauce accompanied the cheese adding a touch of fruity sweetness. This wasn’t a type of dish I ever expected him to order, in fact I cannot recall the last time I saw him order ANYTHING in puff pastry. However if his moans of delight were anything to go by, I can see he will likely order this again given the chance!
Kate ordered the sweet potato salad served warm with marinated mushrooms, French cream cheese, cherry tomatoes and julienned snow peas. It was a vegetarian’s feast and I couldn’t help myself from reaching across and nabbing a slice of soft creamy sweet potato.
I ordered the half dozen fresh natural oysters which I was hoping were obtained locally from WA but unfortunately I was told they were imported from South Australia. Regardless of the greater distance they travelled to reach my plate each oyster gave me a mouthful of fresh seawater without any unpleasant fishy after-taste.
The Boy was on a roll with this pastry fetish as his main course was also wrapped in puff pastry. His dish was titled “real barramundi” and consisted of a thick fillet of barramundi cooked with prawns and garlic butter and then wrapped in pastry.
His fish came with a potato gallete and more lashings of creamy garlic sauce. No vampires came near us that night!
Kate wasn’t too impressed with the main dish choices as she is not really much of a meat eater so she requested for the chilli squid entrée to be served as a main size. Our waitress was more than happy to oblige. Her chilli squid was served in a Greek style cooked with tomato, capsicum and a hint of chilli. It was topped with some crumbled feta and black olives. She paired it with brilliant emerald green choc-mint cocktail made with Crème de Cacao, Crème de Menthe and Midori. We downed a few of those together that night!
I ordered the special of the day; the King Snapper Tom Yum. Having travelled a reasonable amount in Thailand, this clear, sweet and sour soup is one of my Thai favourites and I was counting on flashbacks of our time in the tropical sunshine. I certainly wasn’t expecting the dish I received which was more like a red fish curry than a Tom Yum. The sauce was a more modern interpretation made using coconut cream and was served with rice, like a curry. After my initial surprise, I actually didn’t mind it at all. For a curry, it was richly flavoured with all the layering of tastes that a well-made Thai dish should have. The fish was softly cooked and flaked apart gracefully and I was close to licking the bowl clean by the end.
As we arrived at dessert time, I was grateful for having a second stomach as I was totally stuffed. Whenever the three of us are out together, Kate and I will often try and guess what the Boy will order. He will then try to meet our suggestions with an air of total mystery and nonchalance. We are renowned for usually getting it right and simultaneously chanted that he would choose the Death by Chocolate. After a few minutes of playing coy and pretending we were completely wrong our waitress came up to take our order and lo and behold; he orders the Death by Chocolate. It was a rich doorstop-sized block of chocolate cake served warm and drizzled with oozing chocolicious ganache.
Both of us girls ordered the dessert special; the Loose Goose chocolate pot. Despite asking for gluten free, mine was initially served with some chocolate biscuit crumbled on top. Thankfully the Boy pointed this out to me before I had finished taking my photos and I avoided getting gluten poisoning.
Our waitress was extremely apologetic and promptly swapped it over for me. The chocolate pot was a huge serve of which neither of us needed to finish it all. Of course we both did polish off the lot which made our dancing attempts later on at the Pier nightclub not exactly easy!
The following morning we gathered ourselves together for a refreshing coastal walk. There is a walking track along most of the town’s coastline with gentle undulating hills and some of the most breathtaking views of the beaches. If I hadn’t binged so much the night before it would have made a fabulous running track to burn off those excess calories.
Sadly our weekend had nearly drawn to an end so before we headed back to the airport, Kate took us for a drive to Monjingup Lake Nature Reserve. She is a master at pleasing everyone and given I had already had a fulfilling foodie weekend, she wanted to take us somewhere that she knew the Boy would love.
The reserve has a well maintained boardwalk which takes you right out onto the lake giving gorgeous views of the reflections of the trees on the water.
There was an abundance of bird life that the Boy spotted with great ease; wildlife watching is something of a talent of his and he takes great pleasure in being the first to spot any signs of life. Once again I regretted not travelling with the appropriate camera lens!
While the Boy wandered off ahead in search of birds and frogs, my Bestie and I took our time to treasure our last hour together.
Whilst it had been a whirlwind trip this is something the two of us have grown accustomed to over the years. Previously we would both end up being shattered by the end of our rushed catch up due to our desperate attempts at making the most of our time by indulging in all the excesses.
Nearly decades later, our best-friendship has reached a point where we know we have each other for support no matter where we live and what we are doing. Our times together are becoming much more cherished and the influence of her yoga practice on living a healthy life is having a positive impact on both of us. It is a beautiful point in our lives to be.
Despite being all “zen” about my best friend living so far away, as I watched her leave us at the Esperance airport, I shed more than just a few tears. 😥To the bestest bestie; we had such a fabulous weekend with you in your hometown of Esperance. Let’s hope the time until we meet again is short. Whaa-toot!
Chompchomp travelled to Esperance on her own budget purely just to be with her bestie. She is confident that no one in town knew of her blog’s existence and was happy to be completely incognito. Pier Hotel The Esplanade, Esperance Western Australia 6450 | (08) 9071 1777 | www.pierhotelesperance.net.au www.taylorsbeachcafe.com.au loosegooseesperance.com.au
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
As I approach my blog’s second birthday in September this year, I have been reflecting back on what I have achieved in these past two years. Starting from humble and amateurish beginnings I have strived to improve both my writing and photography style and understand this will forever be a learning curve for me. This constant growth and development gives a great sense of achievement and satisfaction. Blogging is and always will be my hobby and finding enough time alongside my day job as a small animal vet can sometimes be a bit of a challenge!
One of the aspects of my blog that I want to improve is my food photography skills. I look at my hideously boring food styling and poor quality restaurant photos and dream wistfully that I had natural talent. Billy Law from A Table For Two is one of those people blessed with such a gift. His photos are always clean and crisp, enticing you to dive deeper and deeper into his blog. He was a finalist on Master Chef and has scored that all elusive book deal that so many bloggers dream of.
His food photography workshops are well known by foodies over east and generally sell out well in advance. So when he announced that he was planning to bring the workshop over West I took no hesitation in signing up. Held at The Terrace Hotel we were treated to a two day insight into his trade secrets paired with good food, wine and lots of laughter.
The first day was aimed at a beginner’s level teaching us how to get the most of our cameras regardless of whether it was a point-and-shoot compact or a niftier DSLR. We went through the basics of composition, white balance and he provided some helpful post processing tips. Billy went around the table and individually looked at each of our cameras to help us familiar ourselves with the manual settings. I was able to put his suggestions straight to work as food was continuously being brought to us. We certainly didn’t go home hungry!
The second day was aimed at a more intermediate level and Billy showed us how to utilise props and lighting to get the best out of our shots at home. The attendees at this day included a wide range of people from passionate foodies and bloggers to professional photographers. The atmosphere was very informal and friendly and many of us exchanged business cards and twitter handles at the end of each day.
The Terrace Hotel staff knew they were serving a roomful of bloggers so I have refrained from reviewing these meals as it would be impossible for me to give an accurate unbiased review. Throughout the day we were treated to very personalised and friendly service and I walked away impressed with the level of attention. I am keen to return for a meal incognito to discover whether this is true for all patrons.
A big thank you to Billy for making the trip over to Perth!The Terrace Hotel 237 St Georges Terrace Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | http://www.terracehotelperth.com.au/
There are a lot of things I love about being a food blogger. Despite what some of you may think there is much more to blogging than just eating, drinking, photographing and writing about food. There exists a strong sense of community amongst us, not just locally but across the nation and in some cases around the world. Friendships are easily formed and due to our heavy involvement in social media these are friendships that are relatively easy to maintain! I wish I had enough time in my day to be able to read more food blogs however in a time poor world I find myself having to narrow it down to reading those blogs that I have the strongest connection with.
In the months before I started blogging back in late 2011 I started following a handful of blogs that I found interesting. One of these blogs was Weny’s blog Weny Wonders Why and his blog remains one of those I still manage to keep up with today. We share very similar taste in restaurants and have been known to unintentionally visit the same restaurant in the space of one week and only find out as we simultaneously post our own reviews. Despite communicating regularly to each other via our blogs, we only very recently met face to face for the first time at the Accento Italian Cooking Class Media Launch in May this year.
A few weeks later, Weny kindly invited me along with a couple of other Perth food bloggers to join him for a Chinese Banquet at Shun Fung down on Barrack Street jetty. I have very fond memories of Shun Fung. Nearly 15 years ago when the Boy and I first started dating the bulk of our weekends were spent partying and clubbing. Back then none of our friends at the time were foodies and would have never considered spending their money on expensive restaurants. The Boy and I felt differently and his love for fine dining was an immediate point of connection for the two of us; a match made in gastronomic heaven! In those days Shun Fung was well known for serving top-notch Chinese cuisine and we went there for our very first fancy dining experience. Together we tried sea cucumber, jelly fish and all sorts of other interesting Chinese delicacies. Unfortunately since those heady heydays, while Perth’s food scene grows from strength to strength Shun Fung has suffered a steady decline in both its reputation and patronage.
Shun Fung’s owner Eva has decided that it’s time to bite the bullet and is investing her time and money to get Shun Fung back to its former glory. She has hired new chefs who have been busy redesigning the menu and will be serving dishes from all the provinces of China rather than just one region. It was intriguing to learn that Shun Fung is actually part of a chain of around 30 restaurants located in China. Some of these are massive establishments having up to 200 chefs working at one time. Perth’s Shun Fung is their only venue here in Australia. Our dining experience that follows is an example of what you can order as part of a $100 per person banquet meal.
I am used to the fact that Chinese food is rarely gluten free as the wide spread prevalence of soy and wheat flour makes choosing suitable dishes hard so I find I tend to avoid dining out at Chinese Restaurants. After taking my seat at the banquet table I unrolled the menu and was very impressed to see that the kitchen was going to significant effort to design a separate gluten free banquet especially for me. I wasn’t expecting such care and attention and was very grateful.
For the rest of the table who could eat gluten there were four appetisers; green chilli in special sauce, ruccola salad, spicy kimchi in Chinese Style and marinated duck wings. Whilst I was not able to try these dishes I was told the ruccola salad was light and refreshing on the palate and the marinated duck wings were very tender and slightly sweet.
My gluten free appetiser was some freshly grilled soft squid with a bean shoot salad and some slices of tomato. Our host recommended that I place a piece of tomato and squid in my mouth as the same time to maximise the flavours. Although it sounded like a curious thing to do it turned out to be good advice. Sometime the simplest combinations of flavours can be surprisingly exciting.
The three season entrée platter was quite a magnificent sight. In Chinese cuisine there are considered to be three important characteristics; aroma, taste and colour. This platter was vibrantly decorated with brightly coloured vegetables and flowers achieving a successful round of “oohs” and “ahhs” across the banquet room. Carefully placed on the platter were golden radish balls, chilli and salt mini dried fish and backed oysters with foie gras sauce.
Golden radish balls are a bit of a misnomer as I believe these tend to contain mainly seafood which is finely chopped and then deep fried. I believe these balls were actually the highlight of the platter for many. The chilli and salt mini dried fish looked like whitebait fries and listening to the audible crunch coming from either side of me they were obviously perfectly crispy! Although the Boy isn’t that big on oysters he did comment to me that they were delicious and creamy.
As everyone started to tuck into their entrees my gluten free alternatives arrived. I was delighted to receive some super fresh oysters with some fresh lime and a gorgeous little lettuce cup of sang choy bow. My sang choy bow had a great nutty texture and was packed full of seafood.
Our next course was the abalone soup. I am fascinated by how much flavour can be found in clear Chinese broths. Superior soup always looks so deceptively watery but manages to impart such complexity of flavours. This is brought about by careful selection of ingredients including chicken, Jinhua ham (Chinese dry cured ham that is similar to Spanish Iberico), pork, pork bones, dried anchovy and/or dried scallops. This superior soup was smooth and delicate with rich unami flavours.
With all this food it was hard to believe we hadn’t even started our mains yet. Thank goodness I planned ahead and wore my stretchy dress! Our first main dish was the Coral Trout which was prepared in two styles. The first preparation was gluten free. Soft flakes of steamed trout with medallions of slippery shiitake mushrooms and a scattering of dried Goji berries. The Goji berries introduced a tart flavour to the otherwise delicate and sweet tropical fish. A gorgeous dish. For the second preparation the trout was lightly battered and pan fried. Not being gluten free I didn’t try this style.
As we finished off our fish our host entered the banquet room carrying sizzling stones topped with juicy cubes of Wagyu beef. I had to presume the meat was marinated in soy because I was advised not to eat it and given my own individual serve. My portion of Wagyu was equivalent to several portions for the others and I could feel a number of pairs of eyes staring at my plate longingly. Only the Boy was game enough to try and steal a piece.
The next dishes of honey and mustard king prawns, Szechuan spicy chicken and braised king oyster mushrooms with shallots all contained gluten and so it became my turn to gaze longing at everyone else’s plates until my next alternative dish arrived.
I didn’t have to wait long and was soon presented with a large King prawn served “backed” like how they do it in Thailand. It was flavoured with “special sauce” which has is a slightly sweet, slightly salty sauce is made from garlic, ginger, Chinese rice wine, oyster sauce, sesame oil, honey and white pepper. The prawn flesh pulled effortless out of its shelled and before finding its way very quickly to my mouth!
My next special gluten free dishes included mixed mushrooms in superior sauce and some sizzling runner beans. The beans were very moreish and briny which contrasted nicely with the more delicate flavours of the soup. While the rest of the table tucked into the Dim Sum platter, to finish off my meal the hostess brought me a bowl of seafood fried rice with egg yolk sauce. It was a lovely gesture but in all honesty I didn’t really need any more food!
For desserts, there were three options to choose from; mixed sweet beans with ice cream, deep fried ice cream or the red bean pancake with ice cream. I got a pang of nostalgia when I saw red bean pancake on the menu. Many years ago when we used to frequent Shun Fung, the red bean pancake was one of my absolute favourites. Those days of carefree gluten eating are well and truly over for me! Sigh!
For my gluten free dessert I received some freshly baked sweet yam cakes. Eva informed the kitchen only just baked them that day. These yummy little dumpling-like cakes are made from rice flour and taro. I love the gluggy texture of Asian style cakes and I soon got over missing out on the red bean pancake as I chowed down a couple of these beauties.
I am so hopeful that Shun Fung’s return it’s slumber will be successful. Our banquet evening reminded me how much we adored this place and knowing they are able to cater for gluten free diners is a huge plus in my books. The banquet provided a huge amount of food for $100 a head and we all rolled out of there bursting at the seams. Thank you once again Weny, Eva and all the staff for providing us with such an enjoyable evening.Shun Fung on the River Old Perth Port, Barrack Square, Perth WA 6000 | 08 9221 1868 | http://www.shunfung.com.au/
Chompchomp dined as a guest of Shun Fung. As a result I will not give a score on this dining experience as it is too hard to be 100% subjective when the meal is complementary.
It was the day after attending our dear friend’s wedding banquet at the Fairmont Hotel in Singapore. Knowing that avoiding gluten at a Chinese banquet would be literally impossible I made the choice to eat gluten that night so I wouldn’t miss out on any of the gorgeous delicacies served to us all. I had psyched myself up for this event for months and was fully prepared to deal with the onslaught of symptoms that would ensue in the following days.
When I got up that morning it was hard to distinguish what were the after-effects of eating gluten and what were due to the alcohol excesses. The tell-tale spots of eczema were only baby fledglings at this stage and for a change had not appeared on my face…yet. As a gesture of their gratitude to us for coming to all the way to Singapore to share the happiness on their big day, our friends and their parents invited us to join them and their family for lunch at Pow Sing Restaurant; a place famous for its Hainanese Chicken Rice along.
Since my arrival in Singapore I have been dying to try this classic favourite especially as I know it is one of the main hawker’s foods that is easy to do gluten free. Hainanese chicken originates from China and it is found in Singaporean, Malaysian and Thai cuisines and many Singaporeans consider this to be their national dish. The whole chicken is delicately poached in a broth of pork and chicken stock which is infused with ginger. This stock is then used along with rendered chicken fat to prepare the rice resulting in an extremely flavourful dish.
Pow Sing’s Hainanese chicken did not disappoint. The chickens were plump, soft and very succulent; the meat nearly dissolved in your mouth it was so tender. The rice looked innocent enough but as soon as I served myself some I could smell its fragrant aroma. Each rice grain was coated in the tasty oily broth giving it a full body of flavour. To accompany our chicken; my friend parents proceeded to order a long list of Nyonya favourites for us to try. I could feel myself getting caught up in the fun of it all and figured seeing as I felt rotten from the night before eating a little bit more gluten was hardly going to make that much more of a difference provided I was careful and didn’t go overboard.
The sweet crunchy honey bean pods served with the delicate, musty, slightly earthy flavoured straw mushrooms were a refreshing dish after the oiliness of the chicken. Straw mushrooms have been used in Chinese cuisine for over two thousand years and are so named because they’re grown on straw that’s been used in a rice paddy.
The crispy Nyonya squid was another flavour bomb. The squid are coated in a batter containing coconut and then deep-fried giving them a very crunchy texture. They are then stir-fried in chilli and garlic and then dipped in a tangy sweet and sour hot sauce before serving. This was quite unlike any fried squid I have had before and I could have easy demolished the plate but I held myself back knowing the batter would probably contain flour. One taste was all I allowed myself….pace yourself girl!
The ngog hiang is a Nyonya style of spring roll. Meaning “five flavours” in Hokkien, it was initially brought to Singapore from the Fujian province in China. The original five flavours were prawn, pork rolls, pork liver, egg and pork sausage. These days they are made with all sorts of different meats which are usually combined with water chestnuts, other vegetables and then seasoned with five-spice powder. The outer layer is made with bean curd skin. For preparation they are steamed first followed by a short time in the deep fryer. Absolutely delicious but not for those with heart disease as I’m sure too many of these tasty morsels would clog the arteries!
Many of you may know my penchant for tamarind dishes; I love the sweet and sour aspect of these dishes much better than the horrific sickly Australian take on sweet and sour. The asam pedas is basically a fish curry made with tamarind paste and various vegetables. Ours contained okra, tomatoes and eggplants. It had a fair bit of kick to the heat and I noticed the Boy politely avoiding serving himself seconds as the rest of us dipped in for more.
Otak otak are a type of fish cake made from fresh mackerel meat pounded and marinated with ground chilli, lemon grass, ginger, turmeric and coconut milk. The end result is something that looks more like fish paste than the traditional fish cakes I’m accustomed to in Thailand. This fragrant paste is then wrapped in banana leaves and gently steamed or cooked over hot charcoals. The banana leaves trap in the moisture and flavour making it into a mouth-watering, custardy sweet treat.
The crispy Nyonya Tauhu is made from egg tofu and deep-fried to exact point to have a crispy thin exterior yet a velvety moist interior. The egg tofu is made by filtering whole beaten eggs into the soy milk before the tofu is set. It is a paler yellow colour and has a silken soft texture and milder flavour. These little creamy logs were to be dipped into the accompanying sweet black sauce and nearly seemed like a dessert than savoury course.
We finished our feast with a recommendation from the Bride; a chendol. Like all Asian desserts this came laden with all the sugar in all the land! The basic ingredients of this sticky drink included coconut milk, green jelly made from rice flour and Pandan flavouring, shaved ice and sugar. Ours was enhanced with layers of presumably highly artificial colourings and flavourings. At the bottom of my glass were red beans and grass jelly. The beans were a welcome relief from all the sugar!
Giddy with the sugar combined with my gluten induced haziness I felt like I was intoxicated all over again. Despite knowing the next week was going to be rough on the body, I walked away feeling satisfied that I had made the most of my gluten onslaught by eating wonderful dishes that ordinarily I would avoid. Most of all, not only did I get to appreciate how insanely delicious Hainanese Chicken rice is I tried it from a location that many consider to be the best in Singapore!Pow Sing Restaurant 65 Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 217970 | +65 6282 7972 | http://www.powsing.com/index.html Price: $$ Food: 9/10 (ok now bear in mind this is coming from a naïve Westerner, but all dishes were brilliant) Service: 4/5 (speedy, no fuss) Ambience: 3.5/5 (hustling and bustling; this place remained packed) Total: 16.5/20
Some of you may recall my unusual Australia Day weekend this year. It started off at our local pub The Broken Hill Hotel where we munched on casual pub food with drinks a plenty and could even see the fireworks show from where we sat on their balcony. A far cry from our usual annual party extravaganza we hold at our house but a great night out all the same. The reason for such a tame national holiday you see was that the weekend preceeding this relaxing weekend happened to be my Hen’s day. In true Chompchomp style I burnt all my candles at both ends and managed to come out with a fair share of bruises coupled a strained joint in my spine. It was worth it; we had a total hoot of a time but entertaining and cooking for the masses was out of my capabilities that following weekend.
After such a fun night at The Broken Hill, we decided to continue in our “let’s go local” mode and walked down to the other end of Albany Highway to The Publican Bar. Our wedding was just over a month away at this point in time and both of us were filled with excitement and anxiety. The biggest thing that recently was absorbing our thoughts was the choreographed dance for our first dance. We were both feeling like we may have bitten off more than we could chew but knew how jaw dropping it would be if we could pull it off. To make matters worse, our dance practice had been stalled to a halt by my stupid drunk and disorderly neck injury from the Hen’s. This left me feeling guilty as I was the one responsible for disrupting our progress.
We initially took a seat indoors but after such a relaxed evening outdoors the night before I could immediately see the Boy was uncomfortable and not happy with our choice. We looked out into the tiny courtyard and although there were no customers sitting out there to give any atmosphere it was still better than sitting under the dim lights indoors.
The Publican Bar has a number of gluten free options and these are clearly marked on their menu. We started with some lemon pepper squid and garlic prawns. Their prawns had a lot more flavour than those we had the previous night at the Broken Hill Hotel lacking that metallic watery after taste that can only come from frozen produce. The calamari were an eclectic mix of chewy and soft so it was a secret surprise whether you got the perfectly cooked piece or the rubbery one.
Predicting what the Boy will order to eat can sometime be a challenge. Often he will go for a long spell of choosing the same dishes over and over and then randomly pull out a left field and often successful punt at something more unusual. This Australia Day weekend however he has sticking to true blue Aussie man food and ordered another steak, this time the surf and turf.
I could hear an audible crunch as he chowed down his beer battered chips and noticed that his steak was cooked rare just as requested. We have had previous experiences where this wasn’t the case so it was a relief to see the kitchen was on track to serve this simple hearty meal well. The prawns however were more tasteless than our entrée and his salad appeared like it was dressed much earlier in the day leaving it looking sad and wilted.
I never used to be one to obsess over calories but preparing for a wedding will surely do it to the best of us and after drinking more than a bottle of wine with my three course meal the night before I was feeling racked with guilt for my indulgences this close to our wedding. To amplify my worries my injured neck meant my usual fall back to combat caloric excesses of running long distances was an absolute no go zone.
Taking this into mind I chose the grilled vegetable salad served with baby spinach, mushrooms, pumpkin, almonds, feta and roasted beetroot. Now I cannot say I’m a vegetarian by any means but I do actually prefer to eat a lot of vegetarian meals. I would expect maybe 3 out of 5 of my meals are meatless and when I do eat meat it tends to be from the sea. However, vegetarian doesn’t have to equate to boring and I cannot imagine what the chef was thinking when he prepared this salad. What ever happened to tossing all ingredients together? Odd. Needless to say I do love roast veggies so I still managed to walk away very satisfied. Just a little confused.
The Publican Bar is one of our locals but with the increasing number of new bars and restaurants opening up in the area I think they should really consider lifting their game in order to keep up with the competition. There were items still on their menu that I recall from visits several years back. I’m sure we will head back there again but it won’t be in a hurry.The Publican Bar 774 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101 WA | (08) 9470 5818 | http://thepublicanbar.com.au Price: $$$ (Tapas $7-16, Mains $23-36) Food: 3/5 (a little hit and miss but does the staples well) Service: 2.5/5 (slow and reluctant) Ambience: 2.5/5 (it has a sports bar feel) Drinks: 3/5 (big range of beers, wine list fairly standard) Total: 11/20
I was lucky enough to secure three tickets to the last of the series of the Largesse dinners. These fabulous degustation evenings have formed a near cult following in Perth and are known to sell out within minutes of going on sale. So what on Earth is Largesse you ask?
Imagine the Head Chefs from six award-winning restaurants from around Perth donating their talents and time to each create one dish to contribute toward a six course extravaganza. Better still each course is then matched with exquisite wines and most importantly all of the proceeds from the evening go toward a charity of the host chef’s choosing. This year the charity of choice was The Royal Flying Doctors Service.
The six chefs are Scott O’Sullivan from Red Cabbage Food and Wine, Kiren Mainwaring from Dear Friends, Jason Jujnovich from Divido, Stephen Clarke of Clarkes of North Beach, Todd Stuart from Petite Mort and last but most definitely not least Hadleigh Troy from Restaurant Amusé.
This year the night was hosted at Petit Mort which is located in Shenton Park where the popular Star Anise resided for many years. The evening had such a buzz of excitement about it and as I gazed around the room I wondered which faces belonged to other fellow Perth bloggers I knew were attending. I have only been a blogger for about nine months now and have been blown away by the sense of camaraderie and open friendship that exists in this small little community of foodies. My eyes have only really been opened to this supportive side of blogging since joining Twitter last month. Weirdly despite this short space of time, I feel like I already know these people without even having met them.
We were informed that the first two courses were to be swapped in order because Chef Scott needed some extra time to prepare his dish. We were told he apparently lost track of time due to watching a UFC final! This got a round of chuckles from the guests.
Our first dish was air dried ham with Swan Valley Yolk, ajo blancho and foraged herbs. This dish had a number of textural elements which all tied in magically with the fresh gooey yolk. Ajo blanco is a Spanish soup made with crushed almonds and garlic; it was delicately dolloped around the plate and added in a creamy nutty texture to the crunchy herbs and chewy ham.
Our next dish was house-smoked trout, chilli squid and saffron. I was dismayed to see my gluten free version had the squid completely omitted. This meant I only really got half the dish which was quite disappointing considering that with small degustation courses each component is an important element for the overall experience of the dish. I would have preferred if the chef could have perhaps prepared my version gluten free rather than just leaving the squid off completely. Nevertheless the smoked trout was exquisitely soft and buttery leaving no oily aftertaste on the palate. My dining companions who received the full version of the dish commented that the chilli was not a strong enough feature and was barely noticeable.
The next dish was a pasta dish which is obviously not gluten free so Chef Jason from Divido kindly went to the effort of creating a completely different alternate option for me. I received braised rabbit with lentils. The rabbit had obviously been nurtured and cared for in the cooking process because I have never had such tender rabbit before; it had the soft texture of high quality smoked ham. So simple yet so well executed.
The boys had Radicchio Tortellini served with melted Fontina drizzled over it. I was informed that although you could clearly taste that the tortellini was freshly made, it was slightly undercooked and too firm; there was no slippery oyster textures between the teeth here!
The braised venison shin was my second favourite dish of the evening. I simply could not fault it whatsoever. It was accompanied by “Foie gras espuma” where we were told that the chef combined the decadent foie gras with Anglais sauce and piped it out of a canister like whipped cream. The richly flavoured shin meat simply melted in my mouth and if I wasn’t seated at a communal table I might have been tempted to lick this plate clean.
There was a little interlude in the evening at this point allowing a few fellow foodies Perth Munchkin and Gastromony to pop over to our table to introduce themselves. It was awesome to finally put some faces to the blogs that I have been following and I look forward to reading their posts on this fabulous night.
The palate cleanser consisted of ginger and beetroot water. Although this could have been improved by serving at a colder temperature it was definitely uplifting and refreshing.
Pressed duck is a very traditional French dish where the whole entire duck organs and all is partially roasted then put through a special “duck press” to squeeze out the juices which are then used for the sauce. This duck was richly flavoured but in the aftermath of the delicate venison shin its texture felt a little chewy and dry by comparison. It was accompanied by two types of wild mushrooms: the funnel shaped chanterelle and the strong tasting cepe. These were the perfect accompaniment and gave more depth to the dish with their earthy tones.
The dessert was by far and by large the highlight of the evening for me. It reaffirmed to me why Restaurant Amusé remains my most revered dining establishment in Perth. Chef Hadleigh always manages to create food art that is not only visually stunning, but does incredible things to your palate. His dish “chocolate, caramel and sorrel” spanned across a wide range of exquisite textures, temperatures and flavours. The dish started with crunchy, crisp sorrel meringue that completely dissolved on contact with your tongue, onto cool firm chocolate ice-cream that nearly had the chewy texture of a chocolate truffle, and finally ending of a bed of warmed gooey caramel. To finish off the decadence there were fine shavings of white chocolate crumbs over the top to introduce another layer of alternate texture and flavour.
The last of the Largesse evenings was an experience I’m glad I didn’t miss; a night of talented chefs showcasing their abilities in the name of a worthy charitable cause. Although I know the Chefs all said this is their last, surely they can start up something new and similar in concept? The evening has inspired me to visit those restaurants out of the six that I haven’t been to yet and more importantly I want to get back to Amusé for what will be the fourth time! Last time we were we spent nearly six glorious hours overindulging ourselves in a night I will never forget.Red Cabbage Food + Wine 49/15 Labouchere Rd, South Perth 6151 | (08) 9367 5744 | redcabbagefoodandwine.com.au Dear Friends 100 Benara Rd, Caversham 6055 | (08) 9279 2815 | www.dearfriends.com.au Divido 170 Scarborough Beach Rd, Mount Hawthorn 6016 | (08) 9443 7373 | www.divido.com.au Clarkes of North Beach 97 Flora Terrace, North Beach 6020 | (08) 9246 7621 | www.clarkesofnorthbeach.com.au Petite Mort 225 Onslow Rd, Shenton Park 6008 | (08) 9388 0331 | www.petitemort.com.au Restaurant Amusé 64 Bronte St, East Perth 6004 | (08) 9325 4900 | www.restaurantamuse.com.au
It was Friday night and the boy phoned me say he had just finished work and was about to head home. We had made dinner plans for in the city and it looked like he was right on schedule to get home in time for us to head straight in. Excitedly I starting thinking that we may even have time to quickly stop in at the Greenhouse for a pre-dinner drink! But as he made his way back to his car, he received a call informing him that the air conditioners in the server room were failing. This meant he would need to wait back for someone to arrive to fix them. What was even more annoying for him was that the repair men would be at least two hours away! So by the time he eventually did get home, our plans to head into the city sounded like far too much like a mission for him, so we decided to go local and head to Little Ying Thai instead.
We have visited this restaurant before and enjoyed its simple charm. The quality of the dishes do not begin compare to some of my favourites venues such as Dusit Thai, but then neither do their prices and when you add in their BYO license it has all the makings of a cheap but tasty night out. The service is very friendly and they are more than happy to accommodate for both gluten-free and fructose friendly requests.
We started off with the Charcoal squid which we have ordered before on previous nights here. It consisted of marinated strips of squid served with sweet chilli sauce and ground peanuts. As she did previously, the waitress warned us this dish takes a little bit longer to prepare than other entrees, but to be honest we were not waiting for long at all. The squid was surprisingly tender and although it appears minimally char-grilled it was still flavoursome presumably due to the marinade. We also ordered chicken larb, a sure-fire favourite of mine. Unfortunately with memories of the scrumptious duck larb we had at Dusit Thai still fresh in my mind, it was going to be a big ask to be able to impress my little taste buds. Little Ying’s larb had a pretty decent kick in it and the addition of fresh mint and coriander made it feel a bit more traditional however the flavours were too subtle leaving it tasting a bit bland.
For mains we shared charcoal grilled pork. I’m not quite sure why I went all out and ordered so much charcoal dishes! In fact, I never really used to eat much pork until recently. In Thailand pork is a very popular meat, and many Thai chefs will use nearly every part of the pig to make a variety of different dishes – including the intestines! This pork dish was quite a standard fare, marinated nicely and the pork pieces were meaty and not fatty. It was a reasonably large-sized serve considering the price (around $16).
When prepared and cooked correctly, Pandan chicken is a melt in your mouth treat. Wrapping the chicken in the pandan leaf keeps all the juices of the chicken inside resulting in a very tender and succulent mouthful of deliciousness. The leaf itself improves things further by adding a distinct sweet and floral like taste to the meat. Unfortunately a number of my previous experiences of this dish have not been that pleasant due to poor preparation and overcooking resulting in dry and chewy chicken. But after enjoying it cooked to perfection recently in Thailand, I thought we would give this another try. Regrettably this time round the chicken was indeed quite stringy and had a strange aftertaste that made me wonder if we would regret our choice tomorrow. (By the way in defence of Little Ying; there weren’t any further unpleasant outcomes the next day.)
This simple but delicious classic Thai dish never fails to satisfy me. I love all things eggie and I was happy to take the opportunity to sneak some into a dinner meal. Coupled with minced chicken, fresh herbs and some hot chilli sauce, we devoured this one very quickly.
Overall, for a cheap, local night out Little Ying Thai hits the spot. The food is by no means amazing and will not blow you away, but nevertheless it’s still enjoyable and the staff are all super friendly and attentive.Price: $$ (Entrée $7-10, Mains $10-21) Food: 3.5/5 Service: 3.5/5 Venue: 3/5 Drinks: 3.5/5 (BYO – my choice was a bottle of Jarrah Ridge Chardonnay that we picked up last time we were in the Swan Valley) Total = 13.5/20 Little Ying Thai Shop 3, 895 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9362 3899
I simply love the concept of wine bars. Imagine a relaxing atmosphere without all the hype and pretention of a formal dining establishment, then add in a well thought out wine list plus some quality food and there you have it….the perfect relaxing quiet night out. Establishments such as Must Wine Bar have mastered this idea to perfection – providing awesome food and service in the best locations and venues. I know I can go to Must on any night of the week and be guaranteed a reliably fabulous night without disappointment. I really wanted to add Clarence’s Bar to my list of wine bar favourites in Perth, especially in light of the recent poor experience we had at Five Bar. In fact I really wanted to love it so much that at the start of our evening there I found myself almost starting to make excuses for all their shortcomings before the Chompchomp voice inside me screamed back “NO! Don’t do it!”
The night was a glut of mistakes and delays to the point that it became quite a comical conversation topic for the evening. As per usual I had notified the kitchen well in advance of my no gluten and no onion requirements. My sister also suffers from fructose malabsorption and I wanted to ensure that she could enjoy her time eating out in Perth as much as she does in her foodie hometown of Melbourne.
The night began with us being seated in one of their booths. The design of these booths was quite curious and I’m not sure what unusually proportioned people they had in mind to sit in them. They are meant to sit four people in them however realistically only four miniature people could successfully squeeze in and still be able to raise their arms up to eat their meals. I felt so sorry for the boy as he really struggled to actually fit into the booth at all – he is a strong, broad shouldered man and stands at 6 feet 3 inches tall – certainly not a small person by anyone’s definition. The poor love shuffled and wriggled in his failed attempts at getting comfortable. Fortunately my sister, Mum and I have all have quite small frames so we managed to crowd in tightly around him. But the bizarreness of the booths did not stop there. The table is set as an oddly high level and the seats are very low – giving one the impression the table is like a bib. It actually came up to the top of our chest. Coupled with being jammed in like sardines it did not make for easy eating.
Our waitress was very well prepared to go through their menu with us and she knew all the dishes on the menu thoroughly. She proceeded to read it out dish by dish, informing us that nearly every dish contained either gluten or onion. There were a small handful of dishes that she explained the onion (or gluten) could be omitted by leaving out particular key ingredients such as the accompanying sauce or base. I get frustrated when this happens – I feel like I’m punished because of my allergies with a more bland or tasteless version of a potentially great dish just because the chef won’t offer substitutions. It’s easy enough to leave an ingredient out – but a talented and creative chef can offer alternatives to ensure the dish flavours remain. This is why I always notify the venue in advance to give the chef time to think and plan.
For entree I ordered one of the few dishes that could be served unaltered which was the barbecued squid. Unfortunately it had been barbecued a tad too long and although I don’t mind a little chargrilled flavour, squid does not do well once it ventures into the well-done and chewy side. I felt the dish had so much potential if cooked correctly as the chermoula spices were uplifting however there is no coming back from tough tentacles.
My mum ordered the seared scallops served on a creative cauliflower brulee with shavings of pork crackle. The feeling of lost potential came through even more strongly with this dish as it was served meagrely lukewarm and on a cold plate. It left us with that sinking feeling of knowing we missed out of something amazing due to oversight and poor timing.
Following along the cold dish vibe, the boy’s soup was similarly served at a tepid temperature and I was unable to get any positive comment out of him about this dish. Unlike pasta, no matter how great a soup is, if it’s meant to be hot, it is rarely enjoyable cold. His bowl for the soup was also cold leaving us thinking someone must have forgotten to turn the heat lamps and plate warmers on.
Our dishes came out at haphazard times, so by the time I had finished my cold tough squid; my sister had only just received her order of the gnocchi. On inspection they looked like the familiar soft and fluffy pillows you would expect, however on tasting the dish my sister questioned to us whether the peas contained in the dish tasted frozen. Upon tasting a few of them I had to agree; there was no burst of flavour as I squeezed the pea between my teeth and they left a distinctive floury after-taste in my mouth. Thank goodness the company was great because the food was heading down a one way street to nowhere! To add to the errors of the evening, as we were sipping on our second glass of Chardonnay, I started wondering to myself why it tasted sweet. Had all this mishmash of tasting and scrutinising everyone’s meals confused my palate? Surely not! Then my sister piped up: “This doesn’t taste like the Chardonnay we ordered! I think they have given us the wrong wine!” We called our waitress over, informed her of our cold meals and asked about our strange tasting wine. Off she quickly went to go and check with the bar staff from which she returned promptly with fresh glasses of Chardonnay in hand.
It was at this point in time, we desperately started wishing that sight of me taking photos of our dishes coupled with our polite complaints would ensure that the remainder of night would proceed with minimal more mistakes. Our hopes were in vain as the next agglomeration of errors proceeded to pan out. Our next round of meals were brought out at staggered times and once again on stone cold plates. At the beginning of the night when she went through the menu in detail with us, she stipulated we couldn’t eat one of the side dishes of chickpeas because it had onion in it, so obviously we didn’t ordered this. Instead we chose the green beans and some parmesan fries for our side dishes plus we each ordered a second entrée for our main dish.
Despite having a whole discussion with her about the chickpeas unsuitability for us, lo and behold some chickpeas get placed on our table. We had to send these back only to have them replaced with a dish of undercooked, tough woody beans that were barely edible. After some considerable wait, some of our meals followed along with the serve of fries. All the fries were cold, yes cold fries. Now honestly, cold fries amount to nothing but grossness. There is no excuse for that surely.
Lucky for me for my second course I had ordered the house cured venison, a dish that was meant to be served cold! It was the only dish that deserved any praise for the night. The sweet beetroot sauce nearly got licked off my plate and softened the saltiness of the cured venison.
The boy ordered the risotto which was of course served on a cold plate. It was at this point we called the waitress over once again and questioned her whether they had heat lamps in the kitchen. She commented to us that they do. We then delved further to explain to her that unfortunately all of our meals were served to us lukewarm. She interjected this feedback by remarking to us that my dish was meant to be served cold, and then proceeded to gloss over the fact that the remainder of the table’s dishes were not. She appeared to only listen to what she wanted to hear. After my comment that the flavours of our dishes had so much potential if only they were served at the correct temperature, she latched onto this feedback as positive and as she cleared the table she nodded her head saying: “Oh well, that’s good, as long as the flavours were delicious!” Huh? It was hard to know if she was being serious with such a ridiculous response!
Over all it was a meal that could have been amazing. The thought that was put behind the creation of the menu was inspiring but the execution was a complete failure. Was the chef just having a bad day? I’m not sure I want to find out and next time I’ll just head over the road to Must where I know I will walk away content.Price: $$$ (Entrée $19-23, Mains $23-38) Food: 4/10 Service: 4/10 Venue: 2.5/5 (for the insane booths) Total = 10.5/25 Clarence’s Bar 566 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, WA 6050 | (08) 9228 9474 | clarences.com.au
The excitement for the upcoming engagement party is escalating. The bubbling began at work with our girlie chitter chatter of our personal shopping expeditions for outfits of which some of us had success in our searches but for others it was still a work in progress. As team work is such a vital element of a well-run veterinary practice we are all quite close friends and any social outing sparks a lot of enthusiasm and animated conversations among us all. This level of excitement has further risen up a notch with the arrival of my darling mother early this week. My Mum is the type of person you will immediately love from the first moment you meet her – even my beauty therapists go on about what a gorgeous person she is! With the early arrival of my sister tomorrow, the three of us decided to pop out for a light meal and the perfect cuisine to fit the bill for this was some delicious Thai!
Dusit Thai is something of an institution in Perth and has been open since 1988. The atmosphere in the restaurant is effortless and comfortable, and its spacious size means it’s never hard to get a table. Having eaten here many times on business dinners I figured it would be a sure-fire way to have an enjoyable and quick meal with my love and my Mum. This would allow us to enjoy our last quiet evening together before the festivities really start to kick in.
Dusit Thai is not the cheapest of Thai restaurants in Perth but I have found they reliably serve delicious meals no matter what I choose to order. They are very flexible with adapting their dishes and have always ensured to make an effort to avoid specific ingredients for me which reveals to me just how fresh each meal that is served is. Prior to our travels to Thailand I created an eating card with my special dietary requirements for gluten-free and fructose friendly written clearly in Thai on one side of the card and in English on the other side. Every time we dined out in Thailand I would show this cute little card to our waitress where it would then proceed to do the round trip from my hand via several waitresses to the kitchen and back to the table. Often it would actually make two trips as all the staff would eagerly want to make sure that I have no problems with my meal. Unfortunately I have to admit that back in Australia; even in Thai restaurants this well-travelled little card hasn’t received such glorified attention. Consequently, it was to my delight that on this night I was reminded of its tour of duty in Thailand as it was escorted on a similar round trip around the restaurant to the kitchen before returning back to me.
The waitresses were genuinely helpful in discussing our choice of dishes for the evening and the chef appeared very flexible in attempting to accommodate my requests whenever he could. We started with my latest Thai favourite; some mixed seafood Tom Yum. This delicious clear spicy and sour soup is such a refreshing way to begin a meal, and if you’re not actually that hungry is enough for a light meal on its own. To my great disappointment, prior to the soup being served our lovely waitress came back to inform me that there actually is a lot of onion used in the stock for the soup. I was recommended to order chicken satay instead. I cannot deny my internal reaction to this was “how boring” but seeing as they had already gone to such great lengths to help me order the rest of the evening’s meals I decided I didn’t want to make any more fuss and just went along with her recommendation.
The Tom Yum was requested to be served mild because both the boy and Mum have delicate palates when it comes to hot and spicy food. Despite this request they both found the soup to be too spicy, so for those who do not like heat in their food I recommend that you make sure to emphasize to your waitress that you want your soup very mild. I had a little taste of the seafood contained in the boy’s soup. As I watched him struggle through the spiciness I became quite jealous as I really enjoyed its tangy sourness and wished I could finish it off for them both. I did notice the soup lacked the rich colour I would expect for Tom Yum however the seafood was soft and not chewy or overcooked. The satay was a delicious surprise. The chicken was juicy and tender, the peanut sauce thick and creamy and the ajat (cucumber relish) took me back to Thailand! Many restaurants here in Perth don’t serve their satay dishes with this traditional yet elegant condiment made from palm sauce, cucumber and coriander. Yum!
The duck larb was a tasty alternative to the more commonly served chicken and fortunately for me the kitchen had no issues omitting onion out of this dish. The little pocket rockets of baby chillies packed a fierce punch, but if omitted they allowed this dish to be eaten by my two companions with comfort. I must admit accidentally shovelling two of the crispy numbers into my mouth at once did temporarily take me out of my comfort range!
The stuffed squid is a dish I have eaten here before, unfortunately on this night I felt this wasn’t the dish served at its best. There wasn’t anything overtly wrong with it, it was present beautifully, and the squid was not rubbery but the stuffing just didn’t quite have the flavour I recall enjoying so much in the past.
The beef basil was cooked medium rare leaving the meat tender and succulent. It also contained large pieces of chillies meaning it could be spiced up or down depending on your preference. I double dosed on these babies without much trouble. The stir fried vegetables were the most uninteresting of the dishes and were cooked simply with some oyster sauce. The generous addition of enoki mushrooms saved this dish as some of the other vegetables were slightly undercooked. I enjoy crunchy vegies but not quite that crunchy.
Overall, I never walk away from Dusit Thai disappointed and I know I’ll be back.
Score: Food 7.8/10 Service 8.5/10 Venue 7/10Dusit Thai 249 James Street, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9328 7647 | http://dusitthai.com.au/