Restaurant Amuse, amongst other awards, has been named Perth’s best restaurant for the last three years by the Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. When I was researching Perth restaurants in October, the only Friday night booking for the rest of the year happened to be the Friday J and I were in Perth. I quickly jumped onto the online booking system (love these!) and made a reservation.
Restaurant Amuse is run by husband and wife team, Hadleigh and Carolynne Troy, and located in an unassuming building in East Perth. In fact the outside of the building looked more suited to an apartment complex, and I really thought we were in the wrong place.
Inside it thankfully looked much more restaurant like. I didn’t take much notice of the front area and main room, we were guided through to a side room, clearly the couples room, with six tables, three down each side.
We had a lovely welcome from one of the staff (Carolynne?) but I did think the service went a little downhill after that. We served by quite a few people over the course of the night, including towards the end of the evening when chefs brought out the last few dishes. There didn’t seem to be a system for who did what, and at times it felt a little disjointed, and I noticed on several occasions that someone would walk into our area with plates, look around, not know where they were going, and walk out again, only to come back once they figured it all out. And no-one seemed to know which course we were up to in regards to cutlery settings etc. All that sounds very negative but overall the service was fine, but not outstanding.
I also noticed that the other woman diners had stools for their handbags, I was not offered one of these, and my poor bag had to sit on the floor.
We started with a Gin and Tonic before having a look at the wine list. J was quite excited to see a 2008 Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena in the Napa Valley, California on the list. This is a very famous and well-known wine in the United States, and was made even more famous by the movie Bottle Shock. It is rarely seen on our shores so an opportunity to have a bottle was quickly grabbed.
Now, Restaurant Amuse does not do traditional menus, when we arrived two envelopes were waiting for us on the table. We were told we could open them to see what we were going to be eating, or keep it as a surprise. J declared he didn’t want to know, but I immediately opened both envelopes to have a look. We had two menus as I had already advised when making the booking of my seafood allergy. I wanted to see what differences there were between the the two menus. J didn’t eventually cave in later on in the meal and had a look.
Bread was brought out, and was kept warm by the hot rocks it sat upon. I might have mentioned this before but WA does great butter!
We had snacks first, and this is what they were listed as on the menu, no description, just snacks.
The snacks were radishes with a sauce, oat crisps with a sour cream and olive oil dip, croquettes, potato crisps and few other bits and pieces.
I am a real fan of snacks and these ended up being my favourite part of the meal.
On the menu the rest of the courses were listed by their three main ingredients, and while we were told all the components when each dish was served, I didn’t even to try to remember them all.
Next out for J was marron, orange and fennel pollen
There was no cutlery for this course, I think you are expected to eat it with your fingers, but J wasn’t keen on this, so asked for a knife and fork. He really liked the marron and would have eaten it with his fingers if it still had its shell on, but he thought picking up the flesh with your fingers was a bit weird.
I was served zucchini, orange and cocoa.
I love zucchini flowers and this was a good one, and thankfully the cocoa worked well and gave the required crunchy texture.
We both had tomato, quandong and basil.
Notice the smear on the right-side of the plate? Neither of us noticed this until it was pointed out to us! This was a clever dish, items that looked nothing like a tomato tasted like a tomato, but overall it was too tomatoey for my taste.
J decided to order a half bottle of Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, he loves this wine and being able to get it as a half bottle was a bonus. The waiter showed him the bottle and then disappeared, he came back with the wine in a decanter for J to taste. The wine didn’t smell like it should, so J questioned it. The waiter admitted that a few of the staff had colds so their sense of smell was a bit off, so he would go check with someone else. I don’t know if this guy was the sommelier, as I said earlier, everyone seemed to do a bit of everything.
He came back with a second bottle of the Rockford, presented it to us and then went away to open it and again came back with wine in a decanter.
J eventually gave this one the OK, and a glass was poured and the decanter moved to the wine table at the end of the room. However, J admitted that the second wine smelt exactly the same as the first wine. He knows this wine and how big and fruity it should be and it smelt nothing like this, just like alcohol. He should have said something but he didn’t want to make a fuss and send a second bottle back. He only drank a glass, if that.
Now, was he unlucky and got two bad bottles in a row (totally possible) or did they present the same wine twice? We will never know.
And while we didn’t say anything at the time, we both agree that wine should be opened and poured (out of the bottle) at the table for the diner to taste. Then taken away and decanted if required.
Let’s go back to the food…
The next course was chicken, egg and sweet corn.
This was served in a jar, and when you lifted the lid the smoke came out, leaving you with the dish at the bottom. It was intriguing and engaging, and smelt fantastic. Though not being the biggest fan of smoked dishes, I was happy to find the taste was a lot less smokier than I expected from the smell. This was a favourite dish for both of us.
It was after 10pm by this stage, and we were both feeling pretty tired. We had had a long day and as mentioned in previous posts, our body clocks were set to Melbourne time and we had been in bed at 9pm most nights of our trip. There had been at least a 20-30 minute wait between each course, and there was a still at least five dishes to come. We asked if we could have less time between the rest of the courses and this was not a problem at all. We ended up having a 10-15 minute wait between each of the remaining dishes, which I thought was about right.
Up next for J was scallop, cuttlefish and carrot (no pic).
While I had beetroot, artichoke and carrot.
The artichoke was the best part of this dish.
We had a pork dish next.
J had pork, prawn and watermelon, while I had the very similar pork, cauliflower and watermelon.
I honestly can’t remember anything about this dish, I know I ate it but nothing stands out as being exceptional.
The last of our savoury courses was veal, onion and mushroom.
We both really liked this, it was a good combination of flavours and textures, and I particularly liked the cigar.
A palate cleanser was next, passionfruit, lychee and lime.
Loved it, really refreshing and again really clever with the different textures and elements that look nothing like what they taste like.
Our first dessert was asparagus, peach and fetta.
Where is the asparagus I hear you ask. I thought the same thing when this dish was put in front of me. I was also wondering how asparagus works in a sweet dish. Turns out, for me and J, it doesn’t. The white ice cream on the side was white asparagus ice cream, and neither of us really liked it, however, we ate it all…
J said it was a yum-yuck dish, a term I believe a certain cravat wearing Masterchef judge coined. You taste one part and think yum, you taste another and think yuck, but yet all together it sort of works and you end up eating the lot.
One the menu, there was two desserts listed, but you don’t get a choice, the pastry chef just puts them down depending on how he is holding them and who is closest to which dessert.
J got the buttermilk, rum and raisin.
And I had the strawberries, hazelnut and mint.
Both were awesome and it was a good way to finish the meal, on a high note.
To go with the petit fours, we ordered a coffee for J and a hot chocolate for me.
The petit fours were jubes, marshmallows and cookies.
My hot chocolate:
We had a good night and recommend Restaurant Amuse if you want to try something different. It reminded me a lot of Attica, where they also try different flavour combinations and molecular gastronomy is all the rage. Like Attica, everything was beautifully presented but this didn’t always translate into palate pleasing flavours.