Last night I went to Dear Friends. It was my fourth visit, and as ever, it was perfect. Everything about this restaurant is perfect – the food is fine dining, the chef matches ingredients with brilliance; they offer a degustation menu which means that I don’t have to choose and every dish is a surprising delight; the meal is always evenly paced, so you don’t feel too full or hungry at any point; the wine list is carefully chosen and the sommelier is knowledgeable and entertaining; the dining room is cosy and relaxed like somebody’s dining room at home; the wait staff are enthusiastic about the food that they are serving and they always remember the ingredients, even if there are a multitude of elements on the plate; the restaurant is located in the Swan Valley and the chef sources local fresh ingredients and uses every part of the ingredient with a nose-to-tail approach; everything is delicious (fulfilling my only requirement of food – it just has to be delicious).
So yes – that is why it is the best restaurant in Perth right now, and it is the reason why it has won various gold plates and other awards. Some may think that it is expensive, but if you are happy to spend money on good food and a wonderful experience, then it is worth every cent. The current degustation menu is $115 per person, and if you would like a wine matched degustation, the wine is an extra $70 per person.
This is a picture diary of my meal – I can honestly say that every dish was sublime. Apologies for the quality of some of the pictures, the light in the room was not ideal and nor are my photographic skills. I have tried to remember the ingredients as best I can, but the dishes are so intricate that I will not have reproduced every detail perfectly.
I shared my evening with some very dear companions, and we worked out that we each have a birthday every season, and we plan to go back every 3 months for a Dear Friends birthday special. How splendid.
The first course – the amuse bouche was scallop and radish served on a salt block (you will not believe how much difference the salt block makes), with beef cheek pressé and parfait on a mustard tuile.
The second course was a perfectly cooked egg yolk with air dried ham, ajo blanco (which is a white garlic soup/sauce), pickled onion and nettle.
The third course was ocean trout with frozen aerated goats cheese, a clear gel layer of ocean trout stock, fish roe and cucumber.
Next we were served with triangles of open range chicken with green olive, the yellow squares were leek pressed into a firm mousse, and the sauce was a eucalyptus ice cream.
The next course was a selection of locally grown root vegetables with hand made goats cheese and crispy cabbage.
Course 6 was pork loin, purple carrot puree, stinging nettle gnocchi, lemon sauce and dehydrated red capsicum.
The next course was lamb – pressé, saddle and loin with blood orange sauce, taro chips and nasturtium leaves.
Course 8 was the pre-dessert of crushed macadamia, pumpkin jelly, pumpkin mousse.
Dessert was aerated fine chocolate, iced beetroot, beetroot powder and oxalis ice cream. It sounds weird but it was amazingly good.
The meal was washed down with coffees and liqueurs, served with almond and orange cake and macarons.
The wines we chose were:
1. a New Zealand sauvignon blanc from Marlborough – 2008 Jackson Estate Grey Ghost
2. a South African Shiraz from Stellenbosch – - 2008 Rustenberg Brampton