The Boy is the youngest in a family of three boys. His oldest brother still lives in Perth, but his other brother is a nuclear physicist who lives in Boston. His brother has lived in the US for over ten years and sadly is unlikely to ever return to Australia permanently. Every couple of years, his brother tries to return back to Perth with his lovely American wife to spend time with the family. Because American employees don’t receive as much annual leave as we do in Australia, they both struggle to get time off work and will save up their leave for a few years before being able to visit us.
This year was their first family visit to see us in over three years which was made even more special as it was also the first trip since the birth of their adorable daughter Noelle. The Boy and I had been busting to meet our little niece ever since she was born, especially after having to cancel our planned 2014 USA trip where we were going to go and stay with them in Boston.
To maximise quality time with his brother’s family, the Boy and his brother organised a family mini-break in Margaret River staying at the secluded Merribrook Retreat. While I already knew my brother-in-law enjoyed fine wine, I had never spent enough time with him to know if he was a foodie like us. You can imagine my pure delight when I discovered that both him and his wife were super keen to join us on a degustation for lunch while down south. I booked us in at Studio Bistro in Yallingup.
I notified the chef in advance of my dietary requirements and they were more than happy to accommodate for me. Studio Bistro’s degustation offers six courses for $95 or $135 with matched wines. We had already been wine tasting at a number of vineyards earlier in the morning and were in the mood for a bit of fun so we all chose the matched wines.
We started off with an amuse bouche of exquisitely fresh steak tartare made with succulent, tender Cape Grim grass-fed beef. The steak tartare was served with an emulsion containing a subtle kick of tabasco.
Our first course was an asparagus gazpacho served with a thick blue cheese cream that was poured table side. I love interactive dishes, they always make for more interesting photography provided I’m quick enough!
The aromatic butteriness of the blue cheese cream made this one of those dishes that leaves you wanting to lick the bowl at the end. Crispy jamon iberico added wonderful textural contrasts to the dish.
Our next course sent me further spiraling into a state of heavenly bliss. Many of my regular readers will know how I am totally obsessed with slow cooked eggs. I would actually be happy to eat a degustation with them included in every course. My chunks of slow cooked silky salmon were arranged around a slow cooked free range hen’s egg and drizzled in syrupy teriyaki.
My hen’s egg was picture perfect with a nearly translucent egg white and ooey gooey yolk porn centre. The salmon was topped with rice crisps that were made from scratch in house. The chef explained to me that to make them he boils the rice until all starch come out and then rolls the rice out between sheets of baking paper. He then dehydrates these sheets of squished rice at 50 degrees for 17 hours before being fried to serve. The rice crisps were puffy and light, dissolving like prawn crackers on my tongue.
Our next dish was made using local, free range pork from Big Red Pork. Unlike many intensive pig farms, Big Red pigs are raised in family groups in a more natural environment of paddocks filled with woodlands, creek lines and pasture. This allows the pigs to forage for food like in the wild. Their natural diet gives the meat a darker colour when compared to intensive, less humanely farmed pork.
The pork was served in two ways; a cube of twice cooked pork belly paired with a soft mound of pork cheek and a generous amount of garlic confit and vanilla dressing.
I loved how not only does Studio Bistro focus strongly on using locally farmed and grown Western Australian produce, but that they also ensure to source their meat from organic free range farms where the animals live humanely and are ethically farmed.
Our final main course consisted of a delicately soft portion of slow cooked organic Blackwood Valley lamb rump served with a yellow curry whip and fried sweetbreads. Fresh cooked peas and shavings of coconut gave this dish an interesting fusion of flavours. The rump came accompanied by a lamb gyoza, which meant I couldn’t eat it due to the dumpling pastry. However the chef must have pre-empted my disappointment in advance and kindly plated some of the dumpling filling onto my dish so I didn’t feel like I missed out at all.
The degustation dessert wasn’t gluten free so I chose to have the cheese course instead. There were three cheeses on the platter; Manchego, Heysen Blue and Wensleydale which were served with gluten free crackers, quince paste, walnuts and some fruit. Manchego is a hard Spanish cheese that is made from sheep’s milk and is one of my most favourite cheeses of all time. Heysen Blue is a mild, fruity blue cheese that is made in the Adelaide Hills with cow’s milk. Wensleydale is a classic, crumbly cows from Yorkshire in the UK.
As our lunch drew to an end, we were joined by the Boy’s parents and of course our gorgeous little niece. Upon seeing my little niece, I was surprisingly satisfied that I had eaten enough for the day and left the rest of the adults sitting at the table to join my niece in the gardens. Fueled by a number of glasses of wine I proceeded to leap about and dance with her to music on my iPhone before eventually we both tumbled on the grass puffed out and giggling madly. Such fun times, it is hard when distance separates you from those you love but hopefully we can get over to visit them in Boston soon.
7 Marrinup Drive, Yallingup, WA | (08) 9756 6164 | www.thestudiobistro.com.au
Growing up in a small family unit means that when it breaks apart, the blow is a harder one to deal with. Having less people for the impact to disperse energy leaves each individual with a harder knock. This Christmas we travelled back to Melbourne to spend time with my family however the logistics of who sees who and when became even more complicated than ever before. My sister and I non-amicably parted ways in the lead up to my wedding, not my choice, and although time has passed the wounds still remain fresh for us both. To further complicate the issue, my parents are divorced which means we would normally spend Christmas with them each individually, dining with Dad on Christmas Eve and with Mum on Christmas Day.
Being estranged from my sister meant this usual arrangement would not be possible. Consequently, the plan was for the Boy and I to have Mum’s company for Christmas Eve whilst my sister spent time with our father, and then we would swap over for Christmas Day.
We organised to have Mum for the full day so I could maximise our time together, starting with a beautiful lunch booked at Stokehouse City. Being only minutes walk from where we staying it was the perfect location.
We both arrived laden with bulky gifts and beaming Christmas cheer smiles. I have laboured too long over the sadness of our family situation and am actively trying to move forward and embrace what moments I have with a positive mind.
Mum and the Boy started with the seared Harvey Bay scallops for entrée. This was an interesting mix of flavours with cauliflower purée, strawberries, macadamias and crisp pancetta.
I chose the steak tartare served with pickled shimeji mushrooms, horseradish and mascarpone. Plump, super sweet ruby grapes and wafery potato crisps garnished the dish. The beef was freshly diced and had a very clean aftertaste. This was a modern take of a classic done exceptionally well.
For our main course both Mum and I chose the John Dory fillet. I knew there was going to be some hard core feasting over the next few days and figured starting off eating light would be a kind way to ease my gut into it. The fish was tossed with peppery watercress, toasted almonds and local mussels and served on a bed of richly flavoured Romesco sauce.
The Boy ordered the O’Connor’s pasture fed beef tenderloin served perfectly rare to order and topped with a cascade of smashed roasted potatoes and herbs.
Feeling brief pangs of sadness that I wouldn’t be joining Mum for our traditional lunch at Vue de Monde the following day, I decided to push the boat out and managed to coerce her into ordering both cheese and desserts. I know, I know. I said I would stop this habit as I have put on too much weight this year but then isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
For dessert, we ordered the two gluten free options and shared them amongst the three of us. The lemon and raspberry Eton mess was like a garden of deliciousness with tumbles of fresh berries, champagne jelly and buttermilk ice cream. I nearly regretted electing to share as I savoured every mouthful.
Our second choice was “The Bombe”, Stokehouse’s take on a Bombe Alaska. It made a stunning sight although my drunken photography didn’t really do it justice. Sadly the toasted meringue tasted a bit too gluey and not very fresh. The meringue layered over a centre layer of strawberry sorbet and a white chocolate parfait base.
With full bellies and fuelled with champagne we exchanged our gifts before gathering them all up and walking over to the cinema to see a movie of Mum’s choice. It was late when the movie finished but knowing we wouldn’t get to see each other the following day none of us wanted this day to end. To finish the evening we travelled up to the Atrium Bar on level 35 at the Sofitel to enjoy a few nightcaps before finally bidding farewell and turning it in.
The following day was Christmas Day. Back in the day when I spent this with my sister, it would often be a day of extremes and drama; certainly not all bad but definitely not all good. Some people just don’t cope well under pressure and invariably I would end up bring the scapegoat for most of the day’s hiccups and problems.
Although it was sad and out of place to not be with Mum, this new way of doing Christmas Day was such a relaxed and chilled affair that it almost didn’t feel real.
We ate all day as one always does on Christmas; feasting on roasted goose, baked ham and the most addictive duck fat potatoes. But all this was done without a single element of drama.
Our hosts for the day were my Stepmum’s sister and her husband. My Stepmum’s sister is a master in the kitchen as well as also being the author of the blog Cioccolata Bella.
Everything was made from scratch using local seasonal produce where ever possible, much of it just from her backyard veggie patch.
There was even some gluten free mince pies and plum pudding for me to enjoy. In fact, another guest was Coeliac so there weren’t just token gluten free options, everyone was very mindful of avoiding contamination in the kitchen.
Reflecting back in the peace of mid-January, I appreciate that our return home for Christmas wasn’t what I am used to in years gone by yet despite this change I still got to spend quality time with those I love. And that is the most important thing.
7 Alfred Place, Melbourne, VIC 3000 | (03) 9525 5555 | stokehouse.com.au/city
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
It is safe to presume that most people have been invited to a party for birthdays, engagements, Christmas and the like. Even food festivals get their own launch party these days. Cake clubs happen around the world on a daily basis and I am going to a blogger’s celebration of pork belly this week.
But have you ever heard of a party thrown specifically for an apple? Yes, that’s right. A party for a piece of fruit.
Well neither had I and when I received an invitation to Jazz Apple’s Taste the Crunch cocktail event at Bistro Guillaume I cannot deny that my first instinct was to politely decline. You see, although apples are gluten free and therefore entirely safe for me to eat, they are also full of fructose. Whilst fructose definitely won’t kill me I do get some rather unpleasant after-effects from indulging in it. The Boy does not suffer from fructose malabsorption and was conversely quite excited at the opportunity to attend. We grow apples in our own suburban backyard on cute little dwarf apple trees and he is a passionate green thumb. He was keen to see what sort of apple gets its own party. Being a loyal wife I agreed to attend the apple party with him.
The Jazz apple is a relatively new variety of apple which experienced a sell-out season last year. This year they are looking at having the biggest bumper crop to date and their producers in WA wanted to celebrate in style. A number of Perth foodies were invited to join them for a night of apple enhanced food and beverages.
The entire restaurant at Bistro Guillaume was adorned in hundreds of fresh Jazz apples while a groovy two piece jazz band beebopped away loudly.
Knowing that I was going to eat apple I prepared myself by chowing down a handful of glucose tablets. Glucose can, to a degree, help my gut absorb some fructose however this is only to a point. The bartenders busily worked away make a variety of elegant apple cocktails of which the apple Martini was my favourite, of course! 😉
The kitchen staff churned out plate after plate of Jazz apple laced morsels such as pork belly, salmon tartare and duck with pea purée. Each delectable mouthful ended with the sweet aftertaste of Jazz apple. The chef even made some gluten free adapted, apple topped crème brûlée just for me!
Although the amount of food provided was very generous I had to hold back somewhat as I knew if I got too carried away I was in for some serious fructose overload! At the end of the night on our way out we were given a show bag containing a six-pack of Jazz apples. I planned to take them into my work colleagues the following day to test them out.
Before heading home the Boy and I dropped into Rockpool for a quick bite to eat. It was easy getting a table and the waitstaff were very quick and attentive. I ordered my favourite of steak tartare however I was informed that the fat chips are cooked in the same oil as gluten containing foods so they are regrettably not gluten free. The Boy was more than happy to oblige by eating them for me. The steak tartare was reliably amazing; I have ordered this umpteen times and never been disappointed. Soft, nearly creamy in texture I got to enjoy every meaty mouthful to myself.
The Boy ordered the marron which was served with lightly poached plum, fennel purée, olives and a mint gel. His dish was nearly sweet enough to pass off as dessert and although I was happy with my carnivorous choice I did look on in envy.
No visit to Rockpool is complete without an order of their wonderful sides and I noticed a new one had appeared on the menu that I hadn’t seen before. It was described as wood fired grilled creamed corn with chipotle chilli butter and Manchego cheese. To be honest, all I needed to see was the mention of Manchego cheese and I was sold. Add in the flavour profiles of subtle smoke and spicy chipotle and it effectively turned this simple dish of creamed corn into a taste sensation.
On our way through the lobby to catch a taxi home we accidentally walked past the lobby lounge bar where there was a cake stand full of macarons on the counter. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Before I knew it I had bought one of every flavour as the Boy rolled his eyes at me. What a good man, he knows never to come between his wife and a macaron.
The next day at work I took in the Jazz apples and got the following verdict from my apple munching colleagues:“It reaches every taste-bud in my mouth and makes them go pop-pop-pop.” “It’s a party in my mouth” “It has a good balance between tart and sweet and the skin is as much a part of the apple eating experience as the flesh”
Love my work mates…thanks guys! 😉Chompchomp attended Bistro Guillaume as a guest of Jazz Apple. We paid for our meal at Rockpool in full. Bistro Guillaume Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood | (08) 9362 7551 | www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au www.rockpool.com/rockpool-bar-and-grill-perth www.crownperth.com.au/bars/bars/lobby-lounge/about
All of my direct family members reside over on the eastern coast of Australia; my Mum and Stepdad live in Adelaide and my Dad and Stepmum are in Melbourne. This means we only spend Christmas with them every couple of years as for both of us to get time off from work every year is impossible. Our flight over is always totally horrid with the plane invariably being filled with screaming babies, flustered hostesses and stressed out passengers. In stark contrast upon our arrival, we are always met with a cheerful, bustling household of family festivities and despite the path to get there being bumpy it is always totally worth it. Rockpool Perth
After all our travel in the last twelve months, for this Christmas we chose to stay in our home town of Perth. By some unfortunate luck I awoke on Christmas Day morning with the flu; with sandpaper golf balls in my throat and every muscle in my body cramping like I had just run a marathon. By the time Boxing Day came round I was exhausted and ready for a day on the couch with the cats and a good movie. However my husband thought differently and proceeded to try to entice me off the couch and out of my pyjamas using a carrot and stick approach. The carrot was a spontaneous lunch at Rockpool. And how am I supposed to say no to to THAT!? Rockpool Perth
With good intentions in further attempts to help me shake off my illness the Boy proposed that we walk from our house to the Crown Casino. It was only the day before that I was struggling to break a fever and barely able to stay awake yet I foolishly agreed to this idea. It’s only about a thirty minute walk but by the time we arrived at the Casino my skin was pale and clammy and my head was spinning. We took a seat in the Crown Metropole foyer to allow me to catch my breath whilst we gazed on at the mesmerizing giant sized, sparkling Christmas tree and reindeer. Christmas lights have a way of always making me feel better. Once I had recuperated and gained some colour back in my cheeks, we walked over to Rockpool’s entrance, swung back their familiar enormous wooden doors and walked down their candle lit corridor.
We have dined at Rockpool a number of times yet I have only blogged about our meal at Melbourne’s Rockpool. Our Perth experiences have been either pre-Chompchomp days or in large groups where I felt it would be rude to interrupt the pleasure of everyone’s evening with a photo shoot. Whilst some of my close friends get right into my blogging activities it isn’t something I would want to force upon people I don’t know well.
For the first time I was very surprised and delighted to be offered gluten free bread. The lack of this on previous visits has always surprised me given the calibre of Rockpool and I am so chuffed that they can now provide this. We ordered a bunch of entrees to be all brought out together to share. The kitchen had no problems whatsoever ensuring everything was gluten free so that I could enjoy it all. The Boy insisted on drinking a red wine so we also shared a bottle of the Trapeze Pinot Noir 2011 from the Yarra Valley. This wine was light with just enough sweetness to accompany the seafood yet still had a bit of body to match with our steak tartare.
The Alaskan King Crab was served roughly shredded into a summery salad with avocado, cherry tomatoes and jalapenos and a tangy coriander and lime dressing. The crab was so succulent and sweet it nearly felt like we were eating dessert. And by the way, there is nothing wrong with starting a meal with dessert.
There are two key dishes that I highly recommend ordering if you are dining at Rockpool. The first dish is their oven roasted pumpkin and sweet potato with burnt butter and garlic yoghurt. You can read about this dish on my Melbourne Rockpool post. The second dish of considerable note is Neil Perry’s signature steak tartare. Now if you are in any way irked by the concept of eating raw beef, this is the best place to come to try it for the first time. They use the freshest and finest mince beef, ground it to a velvety soft texture and then simply mix it with capers, onions and herbs. Previously I have asked for the onion to be omitted due to my fructose malabsorption but this time round I wanted the full flavour even if I knew I would suffer a bit afterwards. And once again this dish did not disappoint.
Steak tartare is served traditionally with fries however Rockpool serve it with their incredible fat chips. After being sorely disappointed recently with the fat chips served at The Trustee, these potato babies were not only a dollar cheaper if you ordered them as a side on their own, there were all the right layers of texture for a good chip; from a crisp thin outer to a creamy centre.
To add a bit of healthy greens and fibre into our otherwise very protein heavy meal we ordered the house chopped salad which our waiter dressed for us table side.
Finely chopped leafy greens, red cabbage, chorizo and tomatoes were tossed in with chickpeas, fresh mint and radish. The salad was crunchy fresh and cleansed the palate after eating the more heavy tartare and chips allowing me to thoroughly enjoy our last choice.
Our final selection was the West Australian marron. Asian flavours predominated in this flavourful dish with slices of moist mango, fresh young coconut, pickled ginger and hair strands of chilli and lime. There was a decent amount of marron meat to share leaving us very satisfied with surprisingly no more room left for dessert. I blame that on my damn flu bug although the fact we had spent the whole previous day eating may have also played a factor. 😉
On previous visits to Rockpool Perth we have sometimes found their service to be a bit hit and miss. On this occasion we were pleased to receive very polished and friendly service. Our glasses never remained empty nor did our bread plates. It is fabulous to see that not only have they improved this inconsistency front of house but they have also embraced us gluten free folk by now offering gluten free bread. We are getting more and more spoilt for choice for fine dining in Perth but Rockpool will remain one of our key establishments for a quality night out.
Rockpool Crown PerthCrown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100 | (08) 6252 1900 | www.rockpool.com/rockpool-bar-and-grill-perth Price: $$$$ (Entrees $20-37, Mains $25-120) Food: 4.5/5 (focusing on WA produce with no qualms about food intolerances) Service: 4.5/5 (bubbly, friendly and attentive) Ambience: 3.5/5 (the dining floor now overlooks the newly built car park) Drinks: 5/5 (who can fault their comprehensive wine list? You just need some time to read through it!) Total: 17.5/20
Things are definitely on the onwards and upwards for foodies living here in Perth. This past year has seen a plethora of high quality dining establishments open their doors and it is certainly something to be proud of. We are fortunate enough to live only five minutes’ drive away from the Crown Metropol (formerly known as the Burswood Casino) where internationally famous chefs Neil Perry, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and Guillaume Brahimi all have flagship restaurants residing there. Now it is never too hard to have a fancy meal out.
I made an initial reservation for the two of us at Bistro Guillaume during their opening week however this had to be postponed as I had forgotten we had already made plans to go out with some friends to Duende. After managing to secure a table on another weekend, the Boy informed me that I had booked on the same night as his High School Reunion and would have to cancel once again. By this point I am sure the reservation desk had red flagged me as an annoying customer! Third time lucky, we successfully synced our busy schedules and locked in date night.
It was the first time we had been back to the Casino since their massive renovations and its fresh new face lift has successfully dragged it out of the eighties into current times! We walked past Linneys on our way to The Merrywell for some pre-dinner drinks and like an insect attracted to bright light I couldn’t help but feel the powerful drag towards their sparkling boutique. Linneys designed my engagement ring and seeing as we needed to start looking at wedding rings soon I figured now was as good a time as any to begin.
As we browsed all their beautiful pieces, the store assistant kindly offered to clean my ring for me as this is a complimentary service offered to all owners of Linneys jewellery. Only minutes later “my precious” returned to me all glimmering and twinkling like it had never been worn! I was left torn between amazement at its shining beauty and shame on how dirty it had become! I need to visit Linneys more often!
Upon arrival to Bistro Guillaume we were shown to our booth which was perfectly located right in front of the kitchen. It was like having a television with an action movie playing for us to watch while we chatted away and ate our meal. I was further impressed when some complimentary gluten free bread was brought to our table. For once I wasn’t going to have to sit and watch the Boy eat his bread as I was too busy enjoying my own!
We commenced with the escargot en persillade, served the classic way my father used to make for us when we were young. Melted butter, herbs especially parsley and loads and loads of garlic formed a little pool in which each slippery morsel sat submerged. Beneath the overwhelming garlickyness I could still detect their subtle earthy flavour. Like calamari, if overcooked escargot becomes rubbery and inedible, these were cooked perfectly.
I love all oysters and have been known to make a complete glutton of myself if allowed. Following in the footsteps of my father, I could easily eat several dozen au natural in one sitting provided they are fresh. One of my favourite types of oyster is the Sydney Rock; this species of oyster are smaller, have a more intense and distinct flavour than Pacific Oysters and apparently take 2-3 times longer to reach maturity. Knowing that I have a tendency to order too much food, the boy managed to intercept me attempting to order a full dozen in addition to our two entrees and convinced me of a compromise of a half dozen to share. Each mouthful was as fresh as the sea leaving that lingering sweet, creamy aftertaste.
The recent heartbreaking news earlier this year on the horrific treatment of our cows in Bali slaughterhouses has struck very deep to both of our hearts. As a result our red meat intake has reduced dramatically and now I try to source our produce only from organic farms that are passionate about animal welfare. However seeing steak tartar on the menu, neither of us could resist, it’s up there with Sydney Rock oysters in awesomeness. I took some consolation that it was made with Dandaragan organic beef. For those not convinced about raw, finely diced beef you seriously have to give this a try. The meat was exceedingly fresh and literally dissolved in your mouth leaving no unpleasant meaty aftertaste. The serve was particularly huge and I would have preferred a few more of the crunchy potato crisps to scoop up all the deliciousness.
The venison tenderloin was out of this world. The rich nearly berry-like flavours of the venison melted beautifully into the beetroot sauce and this really was a match made in heaven. In my eagerness to devour it I accidentally splashed ruby red sauce about in a very unladylike fashion and was thankful to be wearing a dark coloured dress! I want to return to Bistro just to order this again.
The boy ordered the veal sweetbreads with a fricassee of mushroom and truffle. The soft creamy pillows of glands were a little too fatty for him but this was circumvented somewhat by the hearty and flavoursome sauce. There was a wide variety of mushrooms in his dish and you could clearly see the fairly generous servings of truffle buried in there.
Although I realise I am supposed to be limiting my calorie intake with our wedding day looming close, this is very difficult to achieve when you are approached by a handsome man with a thick French accent bearing a plate of cheeses. I confess I got a little lost on his cheese journey and may have accidentally ordered more than we really needed. Are you that surprised? I ordered Mont D’or, a soft but rich, washed rind cows cheese that just glooped onto the board; Roquefort, a well-loved blue sheep cheese; Sainte Maure, a classic raw soft goat cheese that we recently had at Duende; Caprin, a hard goat cheese with a distinct nutty taste that I often enjoy when visiting my dad; and Pyengana, an aged Tasmania cheddar.
As you can see, we had no trouble finding room for any of these cheese masterpieces. They were served at the perfect temperature and were even accompanied by toasted gluten free bread.
I have heard many great things about Bistro Guillaume’s desserts however unfortunately for me the majority of them are not gluten free. My only option other than the sorbet was the very un-French mini Pavlova with passionfruit cream and mango sorbet. I am a little on the pedantic side when it comes to my Pavlova’s texture; in a similar vein to a macaron, there needs to be an external crunch, and spongy middle and a gooey centre. This version exhibited a little too much crunch and not enough moist bounciness inside.
Bearing in mind the Boy is not a big desserts person, I was super jealous to hear he thought the profiteroles were the bomb. As our waiter poured thick molten chocolate sauce over the perfectly formed balls I figured if there was ever the temptation to poison myself with gluten then this was it. He took no hesitation informing me the pastry was crackling crisp on the outside and flaky light on the inside. Despite wanting a taste so desperately I resisted and was very thankful the following day.
Coming from a French background I may be a little biased in stating French cuisine is one of the best in the world and Guillaume has managed to capture its simple elegance without overindulgence. Fresh local ingredients, traditional recipes and impeccable service…..Bravo!Bistro Guillaume Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood | (08) 9362 7551 | www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrees $18-28, Mains $30-45) Food: 4.8/5 (would have given a five if it wasn’t for the pav) Service: 5/5 (highly attentive without being in your face) Ambience: 4.5/5 (relaxed, comfortable bistro vibe) Drinks: 4/5 (lots of French options!) Total: 18.3/20
I hadn’t seen my Bestie since our last outing together a few weeks ago when we went hunting for my wedding dress. Once we finally did manage to meet up, we had so much to catch up on that it was hard to know where to start. I was excited to hear all about her new yoga business venture that she was embarking upon. I have never seen her so inspired and passionate about something before and it makes me so happy that she has found her calling in life. Not everyone gets to experience such satisfaction.
Late last year during the whole post-Engagement party debacle we stopped in at The Sentinel for a couple of drinks while we were waiting for The George’s manager to get back to us with the whereabouts of my iPod. In sharp contrast to the abrupt, unfriendly service we had received only minutes before at The George; the Sentinel staff all greeted us cheerily as we entered. This jovial attitude left a lasting impression on our memories.
Recalling our previous experience, we decided to return back for a quick lunch in between errands in the city. The Sentinel is owned by Stephen Scaffidi who also owns the popular Bar One. Sentinel’s dining areas are stunning, sophisticated and oh so suave – I simply love all that dark polished wood and massively high ceilings. Initially when the restaurant first opened early 2011 they received a scathing review by The Australian’s veteran food critic John Lethlean. John scored them a measly 1 out of 5. Luckily for them since then it appears they have picked up their game receiving much better recent reports in local restaurant reviews and blog posts.
We bubbled in to the swanky restaurant chitty chatting away like only besties can. Over the moon to be having some quality “bestie-time” as we like to call it we were determined to make the most of this quick and impromptu catch up. I hadn’t called in advance to notify the chef of my allergies and so I was prepared to be given limited choices off their menu. To my surprise, our waiter and the kitchen worked together to provide us with a number of options to choose from and were not bothered at the potential nuisance of my requests.
As we waited for our food to arrive, our waiter brought to the table some complimentary, freshly toasted gluten free bread with whipped butter. This is not something that happens often and I was suitably impressed. As it was only a Monday afternoon, we both initially hesitated as we gazed over the wine list until we saw some champagne and from then on our rubber arms didn’t need any twisting. Glasses of Mumm champagne in hand we settled in quickly and managed to cover a lot of conversational ground in a short space of time, spanning from weddings to people management through to newsletter writing and coconut water! (Which by the way I am totally addicted to at the moment.)
Kate and I planned to share a few entrees together and seeing as I didn’t get the quinoa dish I wanted recently at Cullen Wines I was keen to try The Sentinel’s version. Kate has been a fan of quinoa for years and has been trying to convince me how awesome it is for some time. It was served with roasted beetroot and dollops of tangy smoked goat’s cheese perched on top of some pickled radish. I am starting to understand what she has been going on about – if prepared with the right foods it is a lovely treat. I did however struggle to taste the smoky notes of the goat’s cheese, they were too subtle.
We also ordered the marinated octopus served with julienned carrot and fennel with a fresh lemony chilli dressing. The octopus was lovely and soft without any chewiness. My only gripe was the serving size – way too small for something this tasty (and for the price I guess)!
For our third dish we chose the steak tartare. This is something I have enjoyed a number of times at Rockpool and been blown away every time with its buttery texture and gentle flavours. Recently the Boy and I have been part-time vegetarians so it actually felt a little odd if not a bit scary to eat this dish once again. To make matter less palatable the meat wasn’t quite as fresh as I would prefer if raw. The crisp and peppery watercress helped somewhat to disguise the tainted flavour of the meat.
The potato chips served with this dish were nothing like what we were expecting. I was anticipating some frites, something I consider a classic combination with steak tartare. Instead there were a neat stack of potato crisps. They were cut incredibly paper-thin to the point of being translucent but unfortunately they tasted like stale oil and not much else. This potentially amazing but simple dish was very poorly executed.
Overall our lunch was enjoyable but with a few hits and misses and I would be keen to go back to sample a greater selection of their food in order get a better idea on their overall quality. The service was friendly and efficient and I look optimistically to my next visit.
Like Me on Facebook!Sentinel Bar and Grill 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth 6000 | (08) 6103 0507 | http://www.sentinelbar.com.au/ Price: $$$$ (Entrees/snacks $4.50-21.50, Mains $26.5-45) Food: 2.5/5 (raw meat has got to be fresh) Service: 3.8/5 (brilliant and enthusiastic) Ambience: 4.5/5 (lovely warm décor, very swanky feel to it) Drinks: 4.5/5 (extensive and interesting wine list) Total: 15.3/20