All Quality on the Western Front

Name: Restaurant Amuse

Address: 64 Bronte Street, East Perth, WA, 6004

Ph: 08 9325 4900

Website: www.restaurantamuse.com.au

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday from 6:30pm

 

Name: Greenhouse

Address: 100 St. Georges Terrace, Perth, WA, 6000

Ph: 08 9481 8333

Website: www.greenhouseperth.com

Hours: Monday & Tuesday, 7am – late. Wednesday to Saturday, 7am – 12am.

 

Perth. It’s a long way away. Like, really, really far. It is the most remote major city in the world, with Adelaide the nearest city over 2000km away.

And yet, due to our economy’s reliance on things dug out of the ground, Perth has grown into a thriving metropolis, with nearly two million people over in the West. Of course, they aren’t there all the time, with a large number of people flying north to the mines for extremely well paid work.

So with lots of people, and even more money, comes the need to have somewhere good to eat. In Perth, a few places deliver on this need.

An unremarkable suburban house just to the east of the CBD hides a true dining gem. Restaurant Amuse takes its cue from the Scandinavian and Spanish schools, along the same style as restaurants like Loam and Sage. With fresh, local ingredients and often quite simple, but interesting, preparations, this is the sort of food that people are flocking to.

After a selection of snacks, ranging from a very clean tasting salmon ceviche, through to a ash-heavy cigarette-looking tube that split the table, the ten dish menu came at a decent pace, delivered by staff members who knew their job.

The first dish was lifted straight from the Noma handbook, with a single unadorned marron tail served on a slate with soy-beans and a dab of yuzu sauce, the remainder of the marron meat served finely chopped. A dish simple almost to the point of fault, as the slightest over-cooking of the marron became apparent.

However, while the dish may not have been perfect, the matching glass of cold sake was the ideal way to start. Amuse’s sommelier was one of the most enthusiastic that I have come across, raving about each choice in a way that was infectious. The matches were already superb, and were made even better by her passion.

All the savoury dishes were exceptional, well balanced and with a real sense of freshness, but two really stood out. A tartare of kangaroo meat was meaty while still being surprisingly light, offset by eucalyptus and a roselle jam. This was a celebration of Australian ingredients, bush tucker turned haute cuisine, and it raised the question why more chef aren’t focusing on this produce.

The other standout came to the table in individual jars, filled with smoke that engulfed the diner when opened. A combination of chicken, including crisped up skin, very slow-cooked, jelly-like egg and polenta, this dish was simply fun. The mix of textures, the wonderful smokiness, and the whimsy of the presentation made for a memorable dish.

Desserts were again fresh and clean, focused around a pair served at the same time to different diners on the table. One was a rich, boozy dish of buttermilk and rum and raisin ice cream, a little touch of decadence. The other went the other way, really bringing out the purity of flavour from apples. Both were excellent, at opposite ends of the dessert spectrum.

Restaurant Amuse serves highly assured food in a beautiful, if simple, environment, and can hold its own against anywhere in Australia.

More casual, and nestled in the centre of Perth’s CBD, is the phenomenon that is Greenhouse. Started as more of a conceptual design piece, an environmental experiment that was clever enough to include exceptional food.

It is a beautiful piece of environmental design, with vertical gardens for the walls, raw wooden benches, chairs made from old packing crates, light fittings from rolled fencing, and rear-view mirrors over the sink in the bathroom. But beautiful design is not what makes this café/restaurant/bar packed at every hour of the day.

The food is necessarily simple, with everything made from scratch on site, down to the milling of the flour. But this simplicity doesn’t stop the flavour, particularly anything cooked in the huge wood-fired ovens that is used for everything from making bread, and then toast, through to slow cooking large chunks of meat.

At breakfast time some chewy, meaty chunks of pickled pork are given the wood-fired treatment. Think of chunks of somewhat brinier bacon and you’re getting close. It was an unusual flavour, but a good way to start the day, especially with a properly made, top quality coffee.

While breakfast was good, lunch at Greenhouse really raises the bar with simple but hugely enjoyable food. Judging by the streams of them leaving the kitchen, one of the most (understandably) popular dishes was the chicken, papaya and nahm jhim salad, separated into three by walls of crisp Vietnamese pancakes. Light, fresh, and zingy, it was everything a summer salad should be.

Slightly heavier but no less exciting was a slow roasted chermoula lamb, smoky from a slight char, with a touch of spiciness from the marinade. Paired with fresh broad beans and quinoa, this was a delightfully warming lunch.

Desserts were no less exciting. Creamy arroz con leche (Spanish rice pudding) with rhubarb and almonds, served in a sardine tin, showed that the Spaniards know how to do decadence. But even richer was a dense chocolate cake with sour cherries and coconut ice cream, a Cherry Ripe turned classy.

The service is very good, the wine options are great, and the cocktail list very clever. The Greenhouse concept is being extended around the world, both as pop-ups and permanent features, and judging by the original, any town would be happy to have one.

My visit to Perth was a flying one, and there are sure to be other places that deserve equal acclaim, but it is good to know that the west is so well served. This country does very well from the work of West Australian miners. It’s nice that they have great places to eat.

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About freehugstommy

Food, films and politics are my triumvirate of passions.
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