Balthazar is a stalwart in the Perth dining scene. It has been serving the hungry masses in the CBD for over ten years.
J and headed there for dinner on our second night in Perth.
We were a little bit early and opted to have a drink at the bar before going through to the restaurant.
We had a very good Hendricks G&T, mixed correctly with a slice of cucumber.
We then headed into the restaurant. It is quite small, with an area at the end that can be closed off for private functions. There is also a partition down the middle separating diners and which also helps keep the noise down.
Speaking of noise, while the sound of other diners is minimal, the sound from the speakers is not. The music in Balthazar is too loud, and it is not anything classical or soothing, it is a mix of different tunes, all with singers belting out the lyrics.
The other issue with Balthazar is the lighting. I had read on other blogs that the lighting is very low. I didn’t think this would be an issue, I have been to low-lit restaurants before and been able to see what I was eating and also get passable photos of the food.
This was not the case at Balthazar. I didn’t get any food pics, sorry folks, the place was so dark, all the food looked like dark blobs and you wouldn’t be able to distinguish what was what, I can’t even do that and I was there! And I refuse to use flash for food pics, it is disrupting to other diners and normally produces below par results as well. I did have the brilliant idea the following morning that I could have used my mobile phone to light up the dishes, but it was a bit late.
However, another blogger has generously given me permission to use two of her photos, as she had two of the dishes J and I had. Thanks Michelle!
Anyway, onto the food.
For entrée, I went with the steak tartare with a quail egg and lavosh.
It was beautifully presented. The steak was presented in the usual way (circular), with the egg on top. Radiating out of it was eight ‘spokes’ of different condiments, including mustard, pepper, salt and horseradish.
The lavosh was served on the side, and it was a very generous portion. It worked really well with the tartare, adding crunch and saltiness.
Overall it was a good tartare but not great.
J had wild goat, beetroot, rielsing and walnuts.
He liked the dish, the goat was tender and had good flavour but he thought it needed bread to mop up all the sauce. This dish also revealed the other issue with the low lighting. J couldn’t actually see what he was eating. Dark bowl, dark meat and a dark sauce made it rather difficult. My tartare was raw red meat on a white plate which was easier to see.
We had also ordered the baguette with saint olmer butter. This is actually offered as a side dish but we asked for it as a starter as we were hungry, but as the entrees came out quickly, we got this just after them. So J was able to us this to mop up his sauce. It was lovely soft bread and the butter was way too good!
Our waitress was excellent throughout the whole night, friendly and knowledgeable, kept our water and wine glasses topped up, and when she didn’t know something, she went and checked. One example of this was when we were deciding between two wines and asked her for advice. She hadn’t tasted one of them, so went and asked someone who had.
She was also good when J was deciding on which main to have, she gave good clear descriptions of each dish and the differences between them.
We both had steak for main course; I went with the black angus sirloin, veal shin croquette, baby carrots and truffle butter, and J had the aged beef fillet, avocado, corn, polenta crisp and candied jalapenos.
But before our mains came out, another waitress came out of the kitchen and plonked two martini glasses down in front of us, said “Here are your sorbets” and walked off again.
(photo courtesy of Foodie Cravings)
Now, we are used to having sorbet as a palate cleanser but other diners might be even more confused than we were. She should have explained that this was a palate cleanser and told us the flavour, but she banged them down as if we were expecting them and knew what was going on.
We could guess the flavour before we ate it, as there was a piece of preserved lemon in each glass, and it was good sorbet, but we did think the timing was funny.
I don’t think we have ever had a palate cleanser between entrée and main.
Before entrée, yes; after main, yes; but in-between, no.
We pondered on this strange happening until our mains arrived.
This time it me that couldn’t see what I was eating. I could make out the actual steak, the croquette and the carrots, who knows what else was on there. Thankfully it all tasted good, and I could have had a bowl full of the croquettes.
J’s steak was a little overdone but he still enjoyed it, and he loved the accompaniments. We did think the prices of the steaks, $40 and $44, was a little on the high side. It is rare to see steak that expensive in some of the top Melbourne and Sydney restaurants.
J had declared himself full and that he didn’t want dessert, but he was swayed with the Isle of Mull cow’s cheese from Scotland. The cows this cheese comes from are fed mash from the local distillery, giving it a fruity finish. The cheese was served with fruit bread, condiments and lavosh.
I had the chocolate fondant, lychee caramel and chocolate soil. It was a brilliant example of what a fondant should be, it was perfect.
(photo courtesy of Foodie Cravings)
All in all, we had a good night, the food was very good, and the service, for the most part, was excellent.
Though, can someone please turn the music down and the lights up please?