Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Opus (West Perth) 05/2012

There’s a lot to be said for local knowledge. Without it I would never have found this quality restaurant attached to Richardson's Hotel. It’s an elegant place. White clothed tables are set with good cutlery and glassware and sufficiently separated for private conversation, only interrupted by uniformed waitresses moving quietly on the carpeted floor to describe the make up of the dishes they are presenting.
They offer both an a la carte menu or a six course degustation menu ($145 plus $75 for matched wines or $95 for premium wines). Very approximately entrees are about $25 and mains about $45. Wines by the bottle are marked up a little over 100% of retail prices. We enjoyed a particularly pleasant Pinot ($88). They have pleasant subdued lighting and subdued music making it a place to go for a special dinner.
Before the meal we were presented with crisp bread rolls and a halved brioche with three butters one flavoured with chili and one with seaweed which actually looked nice but did nothing for the taste.
An utterly superb chef’s offering of seared lamb loin on shredded cabbage on the thinnest possible venison carpaccio flavoured with maple syrup, and accompanied by a little mayonnaise and a seed mustard presaged the meal that was to come. Dishes were presented at a reasonable pace. The first course, foie gras infused ice cream rested on a jellied green apple puree surrounded with brioche crumbs. A column of Italian meringue with a cover of apple jelly lay beside another of smoked eel. Each of these elements carried distinct tastes, the most delicate being the foie gras and the strongest the eel. I found it a most beautiful but an odd though not offensive combination.
Tasmanian ocean trout on a bed of sea weed with citrus fruit powder was a slender fillet which looked slightly more cooked than I would have liked. The chef kindly acceded to my request that my salmon be replaced with maron because it is not available fresh in Melbourne. Like the salmon it was also a little over cooked.Preparing to serve the maron served on a sea weed salad. Macaroni, black truffle, foie gras, parmesan, veal jus was another attractive presentation. Richly flavoured it was slightly dominated by the parmesan. For main course there was a choice of partridge, which I chose, or pork loin. The partridge was delicate and moist, perfectly prepared, accompanied by spinach, Jerusalem artichoke with an orange lemon chutney sauce.This was an absolutely first class dish. It was followed by a consommé with a spray of cognac covered by a chocolate chip which retained a cloud of smoke in the glass.
A sweet pre-dessert described as strawberry sushi preceded an even sweeter dessert ‘ It’s Autumn made up of ginger bread, confit of chestnut, orange sorbet and finished with hot chamomile syrup poured at the table. Petit fours accompanied coffee. These are relatively trivial criticisms of what was a quite beautiful meal in a superb venue.
Score: 16.5/20

Monday, May 14, 2012

Green House (Perth CBD) 05/2012

There’s no sign outside Green House, they don’t need one. In the middle of St.Georges Terrace, a busy major city street, it is distinguished by outside walls completely covered by small terracotta potted plants which looked like herbs but in daylight I saw it was actually a vine. The restaurant, which, apparently was purpose built in 6 weeks, and looks like it, is a bistro bar style venue with a large open kitchen featuring an open pizza oven. It has an upstairs roof garden and bar and a simply furnished flexible eating space on the ground floor. The downstairs bar is exceptionally well stocked with a wide variety of spirits and liqueurs hanging from hooks above the barmen s' heads. Food is mostly tapas style with modest size dishes made for sharing. I enjoyed three interesting dishes and a dessert with out help and was quite comfortable. Starting with school prawns, baharat, aoli served in an anchovy tin. ($11) Crisp and well seasoned this was a very decent entrée. Lamb tongue, cavalo nero almond ($15) is an uncommon restaurant dish. It was served on a slab of slate. This was not as young a lamb as it might have been and accordingly not as tender as expected. The almond was not detectable in the the mash on which the tongue rested. The cavalo nero was also a bit stringy. It did have a very nice lightly caramelized small onion. Despite it’s deficiencies this is a very interesting and tasty dish. A beef burger,aged cheddar, tomato sauce was served up on the top of the anchovy can. ($7) Very much like an American slider, about a third the size of an average hamburger it was a tasty morsel. I finished the meal with roasted quince, almond, oats. The quince was excellent and the oats provided a beaut crunchy contrast. The almond paste was dominated by sweetness which was overwhelming.They do have bread but evidently they think it very special as it costs $7, the same as two oysters. There were dishes I would have liked to have tried such as shaved cabbage, pomegranate, mint ($12), pine and oyster mushrooms, quinoa, lentils ($15) and prosciutto, fig, cendre, watercress, migas ($16) and barramundi wings, mussels, clams, picade ($26), among others. This restaurant is big on recycling, they wash and re use the anchovy tins but restaurants would do that with plates any way. I did not go into details of their other attempts at conservation. It's more quirky than funky.
Score 13.75

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Restaurant Etiquette: Awkward Situations and How to Handle Them

Have you ever had an awkward event happen at a restaurant that made you just want to crawl into a hole? Or do you labor though social meetings and business lunches with a high degree of anxiety, as you fear that you might do something embarrassing or offensive? Here are some guidelines for how to handle awkward situations at restaurants.

Lack of Food Expertise

If you are not an expert restaurant connoisseur, you may at times have found yourself reading a menu and having no idea what the entree items contain. This may especially be the case at an ethnic restaurant or at restaurant in which many of the entrees in the menu are in a difficult to pronounce foreign language. To avoid the embarrassment of ignorance or from mispronouncing words, ask friends or associates at the table if they have any entree suggestions. You could also call over a waiter for entree recommendations.

Special Dietary Requirements

Many people have special dietary requirements, such as a gluten-free diet, vegetarianism, or low-carb diet. Perhaps you want to avoid the attention that might be directed to you regarding your dietary choices when choosing a menu item. Scan the menu. Many times menu items will be denoted as being vegetarian or gluten-free. Sometimes there are even sections of the menu devoted to vegetarian food. If your dietary requirement does come up in conversation, just be subtle about it and explain that it is just a personal choice to help meet your lifestyle needs.

Spilling Food or Beverages on Other People

The quintessential image of awkwardness in a restaurant is spilling your beverage or food on other people. If you find yourself caught in this embarrassing situation, sincerely and profusely apologize for this action. Offer to pay for their meal and the cost of cleaning or buying new clothing. If necessary, give the recipient of your culinary projection your contact information for sending you a bill.

Food Caught in Your Teeth

Have you ever looked in the mirror after eating a meal at restaurant and turned red in the face as you realized you unknowingly had chunks of food caught in your teeth. Avoid this embarrassing situation at future meals by carrying a pocket-sized mirror with you. Many restaurants will also have toothpicks for picking food out of your teeth.

Paying for a Meal

One of the biggest sources of awkwardness at a restaurant is deciding how much to contribute to the bill. The easiest way to avoid any awkwardness is to outright offer to pay for the entire meal yourself or directly pay the waitress before your friends, family, or associates can see the bill. At the very least, err on the side of generosity if you divvy up the bill between other people.
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Friday, May 04, 2012

Heirloom (Melbourne CBD) 05/2012

Last time we visited this restaurant it had a sort of mixed Japanese/European style cuisine. It has now moved to become more a Japanese restaurant. The venue, a rather draughty great barn of a place, has not changed. They seem to think if the font door is closed potential customers will think they are closed. Decor is interesting with a number of paintings on the walls for sale.There are both a la carte and six ($85) or nine ($125) course degustation menus on offer and they do not insist that the whole table have the degustation menu if they do not wish to. An udon soup with tempuravegetables andprawns was a pleasing standard dish.The signature degustation meal begins with Heirloom petit sashimi, a standard dish, fresh and delicate.Konbu cured ocean trout confit with sea weed meringue, orange, shaved fennel and soy coddled egg yolk was a stunning, quite fabulous entree. It looked beautiful and the tastes in it make my mouth water as I recall it. Miso duck and foie gras parfait with red wine apple and cardamon did not grab me but Sandra loved it. Thin sliced warm duck breast lay beneath a very cold sort of foie gras snow with the other accompaniments. It is a dish that displays highly complex cooking techniques with interesting textural and taste variations which did not blend well for me. Potato dango, Japanese gnochi, Roquefort cheese and saikyo miso cream were out of this world. Their light smooth texture and gentle, characteristic Roquefort flavour made another delicious dish. Quinoa crusted salmon "IMUSHI" style with konbu and salmon broth, steamed sticky rice and Chinese cabbage is a bout the only time I have ever enjoyed Quinoa. Also I do not hve a clue what Imushi style means but what ever it is this is another great dish. For me the salmon could have been cooked for 30 seconds less but again Sandra's was just right.Angus beef sirloin, with miso Hollandaise sauce, radish and silken sea weed salad was a big serve of exceptionally tasty sirloin. Grilled eel rice ball had a gentle flavour of eel permeating the rice which is great if you like eel and we certainly do. Two desserts completed the meal. White sesame blanc mange with strawberry and shizo granita, green lentil, star anise, chocolate pop and machi. After this a Yuzu souffle with passion fruit and mango coulis, white chocolate and yuzu ice cream. A picturesque and sweet end to a very excellent meal. Distinctly better than last year, we have no hesitation in recommending Heirloom for an excellent modern Japanese meal. Saki is more expensive than at most places and wine is slightly above average prices.