I arrived at the Butterworth with high hopes – I had seen a sample menu and liked the idea of tapas style smaller plates, larger plates and delicious desserts. It is located in Exchange Plaza, just off Esplanade in central Perth. The overall look is modern with a large bar area and tables located in a quieter darker area of the restaurant. We were seated at a lovely table by the window.
The waitress left us with two menus on the table. When I looked, one was a wine list and the other was an alcoholic beer/spirits list. Neither of us intended to drink so I asked for a non-alcoholic drinks list. I was greeted with a touch of ridicule from the waitress who said that they do not have a non-alcoholic drinks list – if I wanted a soft drink I could have the ‘usual’, or I could have a mocktail. Liking the idea of a mocktail, I asked what mocktails were available, and she responded by saying that I would have to tell her the ingredients and the bartender would make it up. This just annoyed me from the start – every restaurant is different – what is ‘the usual’ where soft drinks are concerned ? Did she mean diet coke, coke, lemonade ? Did they have juices ? Were the juices fresh or bottled ? Did they have coconut water (my current favourite) ? Did they have iced coffee, tea, milkshakes ? I enjoy seeing a choice of mocktails, so that I can choose them with the same relish that I would choose an alcoholic cocktail. Once she realised that we did not want alcohol, she took the menus away and didn’t return. Another waiter appeared a while later with food menus and we decided to stick with table water.
The main dishes on the menu were fairly traditional – two fish dishes, a steak, veal shank, lamb and duck. There were also some pasta dishes. We chose to stick to sharing plates and selected Bread with Bacon Jam, Beef sliders, Chicken liver parfait, Chicken wings, Pork Belly with pear chutney and house salad.
Then we waited…and waited…and waited….other guests turned up and got served before us, and still no food came – the wait staff were elusive and despite a few attempts to attract their attention, they did not look in our direction. After 50 minutes I decided to get up and go and find somebody, when the food miraculously appeared – all of it – all together. Now I don’t know about you but for me one of the joys of tapas is the constant stream of little dishes that you can graze on and digest, whiling away the evening. If the dishes all turn up together then the effect is not quite the same. The waitress crammed them all on the table – “There we go – great” she said.
Okay so I was pretty fed up by this point and ravenously hungry, but the food looked nice, so I was ready to forget all the previous annoyances and tuck into a nice meal.
First I tried the Bread with Bacon Jam:
The bread was nice and crusty, but the jam…I didn’t get the bacon – it just tasted sweet, maybe a little oniony (if that is a word), but bacony – no. It wasn’t unpleasant but it wasn’t anything that made me go ‘wow’ either. So next I tried the pork belly:
Well it looked very nice – a good sized chunk of pork belly with crackling and chutney, however what it really needed was another hour in the oven. It was a bit tough – I am used to pork belly falling apart when you cut into it – I had to vigorously ‘saw’ this into serving pieces, and the flavour was good, but it just needed longer to cook. The crackling was nice, the chutney was quite cloyingly sweet.
The beef sliders weren’t bad. I kind of expected more though. If you are going to ‘chef up’ a burger it has to taste divine, and these were just average and in need of some seasoning or another element to lift them – maybe some horseradish would have done the trick.
I was really looking forward to sampling the parfait – one of my personal favourites. You can’t see it in the photo, but this came with a heap of salt on the board. I soon found out why. It wasn’t seasoned – it was bland, soft and luscious, but bland. The first time I have ever had to season my own parfait – how disappointing.
The house salad was boring. It consisted of a mixture of leaves, a thin slice of radish, a few thin slices of apple, and chick peas. It wasn’t dressed with anything and it wasn’t seasoned.
.Finally the highlight of the meal was the dish of chicken wings. The chilli sauce was quite hot so not something that you would smother them in unless you had asbestos lips, but the coating on the wings was tasty and I enjoyed them.
So there we are. I chose not to order dessert. Although the choices looked nice and included salted caramel mousse with peanut dacquoise, I thought that if the chef can’t dress a salad, then the desserts won’t be up to much.
We left feeling overwhelmingly disappointed. Maybe if you go there and drink lots of alcohol (as they seem to presume you shall), then perhaps you lose sight of how distinctly average the food is.