Progressive Fine Dining – Eat Drink Perth tour

The Fine Dining Progressive Dinner as part of the Eat Drink Perth food festival happening in WA’s capital city during the month of March, is a great way to experience three of the city’s finest restaurants.

Led by Perth’s popular walking tour specialists Two Feet and Heart Beat, the progressive dinner itinerary featured entree at the Print Hall, main meal at Lamonts Bishop House, and dessert at the Terrace Hotel.

Firstly, before a decadent dinner, Two Feet and a Heart Beat owner Ryan took our small group of seven on a short secret art walking tour.  It’s secret because we saw some art in a secret city alley way that hardly anyone knows exists. I’m not sure I should give Two Feet and a Heart Beat’s secret away by telling you where it is? You might have to message me on Facebook and ask very nicely if you really want to know.  We found it  interesting and eye opening.

Onto the Print Hall. This was Zorba’s first time to Brookfield Place and he liked it. Thank God. Trying to get him to agree to a night out in the city is a challenge.  I think it’s going to be a bit easier from here on. He loved it.

We were spoilt with two entrees; two types of freshly shucked oysters – South Australian (bigger and delicate flavour) and Albany (smaller more intense flavour). It was interesting to compare the two types.  My allegiance to WA was put to one side for a moment as my taste buds preferred the South Australian oysters for their delicate flavour.  Others preferred the creaminess of the Albany oysters.  The two vinaigrettes were beautiful, but I still prefer just a squeeze of lemon when the oysters are as good as these.

Two types of Oysters, Print Hall

Two types of Oysters, Print Hall

Print Hall has an oyster special on Tuesdays, two dozen oysters for $50.  That’s just over $2 per oyster. A bargain. Zorba (who loves a bargain) and another tour goer Barry decided to get another two dozen to share. Totally indulgent – I love it!

I thoroughly enjoyed a glass of Pinot Noir from the USA. I know, I know, I should have chosen bubbly or white wine, but the red just sounded (and tasted!) so good. I broke the sacred wine with food rule. Oh well, rules are made to be broken.

Tasting platter, Print Hall

Tasting platter, Print Hall

The second part of our entree at the Print Hall was a tasting platter featuring a gorgeous pistachio and pork terrine, serrano jamon, air dried shaved beef, salami, a chorizo like sausage, pickled vegetables, and yummy rye grissini bread sticks as well as fresh bread. The house made butter was a little cold and hard to spread at first, but boy was it creamy and delicious after a few minutes.

The terrine was an absolute standout. Firm texture with the added crunch of the pistachio made it something really special.  Beautifully flavoured. Everything on the platter was gorgeous, but fairly standard fare in our house, besides the terrine.  It was so good.

Next stop, Lamonts at Bishop House.  Bishop’s House is tucked away behind Rigby’s bar between Mill Street and Spring Street in the city.  Many moons ago, a fresh spring once ran under neath where the house is built, hence the name of Spring Street. The heritage listed house was built in 1859. It is so lovely and who ever did the interior design really did a outstanding job – it’s beautifully furnished.  It has a warm and welcoming ambience – the vibe the building exuded made me feel instantly comfortable, like I had been there before.  We sat on the balcony overlooking the gardens that provided a natural shield to the traffic on Mounts Bay Road.

Barramundi at Lamonts

Barramundi at Lamonts

The food at Lamonts, at any Lamonts restaurant, is unbelievably good. Tonight was no exception. Barramundi with a fried zucchini flower and roast pepper and tomato salsa. The zucchini flower, that wasn’t stuffed, was delicate and crispy – as good as any I’ve had in Italy. The barramundi was gorgeous, flakey and soft. The roasted pepper and tomato salsa was amazing. Everything worked beautifully. And we got two pieces of bread and house made butter also. The Germans in our group were very excited about the quality of the bread, saying it was just like bread they got back home.

The Lamonts Shiraz was delicious. Yes, I know, again I had red wine with seafood.  Seriously, with red wine this good, I’d have it with cereal. Perfect Shiraz.

Off for another short walk. Tour guide Ryan pointed out some more interesting pieces of art on the corner of the St Georges Terrace and Milligan Street, before leading us into the Terrace Hotel.

Delicious fortified dessert wine

Delicious fortified dessert wine

Italian waiter Antonio explained the complex process of how the fortified wine was made; the wine is distilled in one wine barrel for a set time before being moved to a series of older barrels, until it reached the oldest mother barrel, which was made in 1927, which was also the name of the wine.  He said it could be called a sherry. Call it what ever you like – but can I have another glass? It was yummy, like a light port.

The dessert wine accompanied a cheese platter.  By far the blue cheese and the quince jam was my second favourite. My favourite was the dessert wine, whilst not technically a food group, I’d happily skip dessert just for the wine.

We sat in a private dining room surround by a gazillion dollars worth of wine and champagne.  I had cellar envy for sure.

If I was to make any criticism, it would come from my sweet tooth. Cheese I love, but not as much as chocolate. It would have been a fitting end to a delicious and delightful night to have a chocolate dessert or petit fours.

It was 10.15pm and our night came to an end.  We were grateful that we had a good group that chatted and gelled well together. This was helped along by tour guide Ryan, a Canadian, who has a really lovely way with people. It’s no surprise that his tourism business is doing so well.

It was a terrific way to experience three of Perth’s newest fine dining establishments in one night, at the cost of having just one night out at one of these venues.

Don’t delay, the progressive dinner is only on again next Monday and Tuesday. It costs $140 per person.  A glass of wine or beer is included with each course.  The wine was most generous at Lamonts as the friendly waiter continued to top up our glasses. Thanks Lamonts.

We hope Tour operators Two Feet and a Heart Beat are able to continue the Fine Dining Progressive Dinner as part of their tour offerings as planned. A great idea and it was fun to be tourist in my own city. Try it, like me, you might discover some new secrets.

We paid for our own tickets to this event.

FACT FILE

Eat Drink Perth runs for the month of March in the City of Perth.

Two Feet and a Heart Beat offer interesting walking  and small bar tours in Perth and Sydney.
Print Hall Bar and Dining Room on Urbanspoon

Lamont's Bishop House on Urbanspoon

The Terrace Hotel on Urbanspoon

Evening of magnificence – Vue De Monde, Melbourne

An evening of magnificence began with a drink at Lui Bar on level 55 of the Rialto building in Melbourne.

The table, with uninterrupted views of the open kitchen, had a leather top, the cutlery was leaning against gnarled pieces of wood much like chop stick holders and smooth stones had been machined with grooves to hold candles and salt and pepper.  Our leather bucket chairs had the kangaroo fur line their outer side. One could be forgiven for not noticing those details because the view across Melbourne was breathtaking-beautiful.

Before we had even seen a menu, some morsels of food were put in front of us:

  • Oyster
  • Salt cured wallaby
  • Smoked eel, white chocolate, caviar
  • Peas, pistachio, strawberry

The salt cured wallaby (kangaroo) was prepared at our table. The dish that sound most unusual is the smoked eel with white chocolate and caviar. Who would think of such a combination? Shannon Bennett, that’s who. He has really put his mark on the Australian culinary scene. Back to the smoked eel – it was delectable!  The white chocolate was a subtle thin and crispy shell over each piece of eel that added a hint of sweetness next to the saltiness of the caviar.

Smoked eel with white chocolate and caviar

The peas, pistachio and strawberry was also interesting because it came out initially looking like a soup, but in fact it had a frozen lid that we had to crack through.

Peas, pistachio, strawberry under a frozen lid

It was refreshing and tasted amazing.  I was getting so excited with what was to come.  Hopefully a menu!

Before seeing a menu, we were presented with freshly churned French butter with an array of different breads.  One of my dining companions is gluten intolerant and they happily brought her out some gluten free bread so she could taste the butter.  I had to add salt to the butter as it lacked something, despite being soft and creamy. I also love salt and especially the lovely salt flakes you see in restaurants of this quality.

The waiter did arrive with our menu and we took the conservative option of four-courses at a cost of $150pp.  As you will read on, we had much, much more than four courses. We each had over 11 dishes each!  Ok, some of those were mere tastings, but for what we paid, it was seriously good value for first class execution and produce quality.

Sadly with our conservative menu choice, matching wines were not available. However, the sommelier guided us on which wines by the glass would suit our dish.

The recommended wine for my entree of Greenvale farm Pork, marron, egg cream was a 2011 Henschke ‘Eleanor’s Cottage’ Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Eden Valley, South Australia.  The wine was delicious and I don’t say that about white wine flippantly.  Fresh, slightly buttery balanced with acidity. A lovely drop. The pork belly was amazing.  Delicate, moist, salty set off beautifully next to the sweet marron.  I was in heaven. Really, I was.

Greenvale farm Pork, marron, egg cream

Time for a palate cleanser.  Micro-herbs were presented to each of us in a bowl, to which the waiter poured liquid nitrogen. So dramatic with smoke rising from our bowls as the herbs were snap frozen. We were then given a mortar each to smash and grind the frozen herbs into small pieces.  Fun!  Then a quenelle of lime grapefruit sorbet was placed on top for us to mix with the herb crumbs.  So fresh and, um, cleansing.  Perfect palate cleanser that was fun to put together.

Liquid nitrogen being poured into our palate cleanser

Main course was next. What wine should I have with beef?  Obviously a red. When the 2004 Torbreck ‘The Steading’ Grenache Blend, Gomersal, South Australia was recommended, I was delighted.  Torbreck has a fabulous reputation, deservedly so.  The wine was luscious, smooth, slightly chocoloately, hints of tobacco – I could go on, it was complex and delicious.  I savoured every sip.

The Blackmore beef, nettle, potato was scrumptious. The beef was tender, it just fell apart. The white swirls on top in the photo below are actually sheets of potato. It took me a little while to figure that out because the texture was in between crisp and soft and the shape was nothing like any potato dish I have seen anywhere.  Delicious with an awesome sauce.  More red wine, a little beef – oh yes, foodie heaven for sure!

Blackmore beef, nettle, potato

How excited did we all get when the cheese trolley came around? The smiley Italian waiter explained the different cheeses on offer.  Whilst some of the girls chose what they wanted because they have an aversion to strong blue cheese, I was happy for the choice to be made for me as I love almost all cheese.

Smiley waiter at the cheese trolley

With my four delicious cheeses, I enjoyed the crisp lavash style bread that came with them and a glass of NV Alvear, ‘Vino de Licor’, Moscatel, Morikes de Montilla, Spain.  

Dessert, my favourite course. How was I going to fit it in?  An almost impossible task. The chocolate soufflé was put in front of me and the waiter place a knife in it to create a cavity, to which he poured into cream.  Oh my.  However, on tasting, the dish was not my favourite. I could really taste the egg in the soufflé and no enough chocolate.  I love chocolate and to be honest, would have preferred just a straight block of chocolate!  It was cooked beautifully, but I was so full, I wasn’t going to force myself to eat something that wasn’t transcending me further into food heaven.

Petit fours came out next – what more food?! This was not on the menu, but a cute touch to finish the evening.  The eucalyptus leaves made out of pink musk invoked childhood memories of eating musk sticks.  I also remembered that I didn’t really like them when I was seven years old, and not much has changed since. The mini lamingtons were cute and tasty and the two-up gums were clever but not that tasty.

After our last course, we were given a tour of the kitchen.  Of course I spotted a couple of thermomixes among the appliances. We were shown the commercial vats that were cooking stock for the next day, the chill freezer, and the private dining room. What a treat!

All in all, we had a brilliant night.  Four of us girls felt fussed over by the waiters who were very patient with our constant questions about the food, the wine, and requests for more bread.

Our four course meal was really an 11-course journey into foodie heaven.  And not to forget the bread.  What we thought would be a two hour meal was a four and half hour night of magnificence.

Thanks Holly Hands, Anu Malaviya, and Jessica Wyld for a great night out in one of Melbourne’s top restaurants.

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FACT FILE

Vue de Monde
Level 55, Rialto Tower
525 Collins Street,
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: 03 9691 3888
E: vuedemonde@vuedemonde.com.au

Open for dinner Monday to Saturday, lunch Tuesday to Friday and Sundays. Bookings essential.

Vue de Monde on Urbanspoon

Cape Lodge, Margaret River, Western Australia

Conde Naste Traveller magazine voted Cape Lodge as one of the top ten boutique hotels in the world in 2011 and 2012 and it’s easy to see why.  It is fine dining done with understated elegance.  Tables are nicely spaced apart, the wait staff are well briefed and carry out their duties like European professionals, and the restaurant is beautifully appointed with views over a little lake (aka a dam).

Head Chef Tony Howell changes the menu daily to reflect the fresh produce he has been able to source that day.  It is magnificent for dinner and breakfast. This is a dining experience no foodie would want to miss.

This terrific clip, put together by Tourism Western Australia, showcases Cape Lodge’s restaurant and head chef Tony Howell.

I could eat here every day and never grow tired of it.  Never ever. Although I’m not sure I’d be a able to fund that – it is pricey, but for what you get, it is extremely good value. Especially breakfast.

It’s no surprise that world’s best chefs are all staying at Cape Lodge during the Margaret River Gourmet Escape that is coming up.

FACT FILE

Cape Lodge
3341 Caves Road, Yallingup Western Australia.
Tel: +61 8 9755 6311
Stay@CapeLodge.com.au

Restaurant is open every day for breakfast and dinner. Bookings essential.

 
Cape Lodge Restaurant on Urbanspoon