Valentine’s Day came at a handy time this year. One was to make up for lame festivities and gift giving for my wife’s birthday last month. The other, was to follow up a recommendation and a description of it as “very Melbourne” by my barber. So a self serving Valentine’s but if it worked out then there could be a retrospective justification.
The location has undergone somewhat of a transformation of late. 15 years ago I went to East Perth to get my car fixed and, had I been so inclined, found suitable accommodation as a junkie.
The decor’s been done well – red and furry which had me drifting back to the womb in a Straits of Gibraltar way. The effect was cozy and while the 30 other hand holding couples were apparent, they didn’t have to be. Waiters in civvies added to the effect.
Because it was Valentines day, it was a set menu. A choice of 3 entrees, 3 mains and two desserts. All seemed regular menu items and we were spared any themetisation of the menu, such as Ox Heart in Rose Petal Aspic.
The meal went as follows as far I can remember:
Tasting plate with a glass of Taltarni Brut (‘)Tache Sparkling – nice and two iconic nouns of 70’s sophistication in its name added to the effect. The plate had cheese sticks, kalamata olives, figs with prosciutto (nice and in season) and pate with an onion jam, which was exceptional. Wife overheard waiter telling a customer that there was no way the chef was going to do their meat well done. Chef is the man.
Entree. I was going to go for a NZ white to go with the meal but my eye was caught by the chilled Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent. It looked worth a try and I’ve got a soft spot for chilled reds, which comes from Japan where they’re not so dogmatic about their wines. It went down very well. I had the veal carpaccio on crostini. A nice simple start. My wife had the salmon and fennel tart. One taste was enough to wash away a thousand memories of mini quiches.
Main. Wife nicked the ducks legs so I went for the crispy skinned pink snapper. It was a lucky choice. The duck was a bit rich for a warm night and fell in the shadow of the snapper. I’ve never had such a harmonious combination of three items in a main. The snapper was fresh and clean tasting. The mash, creamy with a hint of garlic and the tomato and leek sauce punched up the flavour. I was sad to finish it.
Dessert. I not big on desserts but the chocolate “cupcake?” with ice cream was a valentiney pleaser. I completed the circle and finished with another glass of Tache which didn’t end up on my bill.
Exceptionally pleasant. More so as I’d been working myself up into what I thought would be a let-down. It could quite easily have been a pretentious washout but everything worked so well, I left with a feeling of being treated well in a nice place where they cared about food. A nice touch was the risotto doggie bag wrapped in a ribbon placed on the table as the next shift of diners were to move in. As kind and subtle see ya later as I’ve ever seen. I also wonder why more restaurants don’t just always do a set menu and if people can’t be flexible enough to fit in with a reasonable choice, then stiff. There’s an army of people out there who’d rather have shit they’re familiar with than something good.