Would you expect to find good food at a Perth CBD underground bar named after a Kalgoorlie Show Girl? The answer is yes. Let me introduce you to Lalla Rookh, downstairs on St Georges Terrace near the William Street junction.
Walking in, I was immediately impressed with the circular space of the outdoor courtyard complete with vertical gardens framed like expensive artwork. The spacious bar area included a large screen TV but has enough nook and crannies to feel cosy and intimate, and the restaurant has a classy yet welcoming fit. Despite covering 800 square metres, the place didn’t feel big and empty. The different areas flowed from one to the other nicely and on a Friday night, it was busy with city’s after work crowd.
Our party of five was seated in the restaurant, sans booking, without any drama. My chosen aperitif, a Sloely Surely cocktail ($16) with aperol, gin, sparkling wine and soda was not too sweet, not too sour, and didn’t have a strong alcoholic taste. It was smooth, balanced and delicious. Another friend’s margherita had an overly salty taste, and it wasn’t just coming from the salted rim. The wine list has enough options by the glass to suit most palates.
The menu is divided into small share plates, pizzas, pasta, main, and dessert. It promotes two chef’s choice banquets, available for the entire table only at $39 and $49 per person. One of our party has shell fish allergy and is pregnant, so we asked if four could have the chef’s choice for $49 each and the fifth just order a pasta dish. Since we were sitting on a table designed for four, with an extra chair tacked onto the end, we thought our request was reasonable. The kitchen refused and our request declined. With a shrug of the shoulders, we chose a few dishes from the menu to share that ended up costing us $25 per head. Their loss – they could have doubled their money with us had they played nice. Not to worry.
The specials for the night were lard wrapped prawns with aioli, and buffalo mozzarella with mushroom compote. The prawns were cooked perfectly and the aioli complemented them beautifully. The buffalo mozzarella balls were fridge cold and not as soft as others I’ve had. The mushroom compote was deep with mushroom flavour and lusciously smooth, however, none of us felt it was a good accompaniment to the buffalo mozzarella. The mushroom compote would have been lovely with penne pasta.
The baccala al latte with ricotta gnocchi ($16) was a winner. The mix of textures of the soft light dumplings topped with stewed cod fish that was beautifully seasoned was interesting to eat and was our table’s dish of the night.
We also ordered a main pasta dish, pappardelle with wild rabbit, chestnuts and prunes ($25) sounds as interesting as it tasted. The pasta was perfect – silky and al dente. The sauce included small chunks of meat, and sadly, a little bone. The chestnut and prune flavours were blended beautifully but were not pronounced. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The service was adequate and polite. I felt a little sorry for the waitress who had to repeat everything she told us because those at the other end of the table couldn’t hear her. The atmosphere is buzzy, if slightly noisy. Perhaps the interior could benefit from soft furnishings to tone down the bouncing noise?
Verdict: A great choice for an after work drink and dinner in the city. Order the ricotta gnocchi with bacala.
Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House
Lower Ground Floor, 77 St Georges Terrace, Perth 6000
Tel: 08 9325 7077