It Just Has To Be Delicious

Archive for October, 2012

The Red Herring, East Fremantle

UPDATE – sadly this lovely restaurant has now permanently closed.

I went to the Red Herring for lunch today. What a delight. This is what I love about living in Perth – you can go out for a casual Sunday lunch in a fabulous setting, you don’t have to dress up too much, the produce will be local and good, the sun will shine (although it was a little showery today), and afterwards you feel fabulous – it’s like being on holiday, then you remember that you live here and you have to pinch yourself.

This was my second visit to the Red Herring, last time was fabulous, so I knew what to expect. The restaurant is right on the swan river, just on the south side of the estuary East of Freo. It has a large car park, and there is a wealth of activity going on in the river. Cruise boats chug past, it is next door to a small mooring area where the boats bob gently up and down, joggers and their dogs trot past on the footpath, and the local seabirds go about their business outside. There are mooring posts right outside where the restaurant has it’s own private jetty, and a pelican usually takes up residence on top of a post. Today was no exception and the pelican was there preeening his feathers and resting in the sunshine. Guillemots and seagulls whizz around from air to perching spots, and we watched a diving bird (which looked like a kind of white throated grebe) dive down and catch a sizeable silver fish.

Our waiter Grant, informed us that there were dolphins around, and earlier five of them had put on a display for the customers.

When you book, ask for a table by the window, then you will not miss out on the river activities.

The restaurant is fully licensed, but I chose a non alcoholic cocktail called a Drink and Drive which contains strawberries, lime and ginger ale:

Drink and Drive

The restaurant has a range of items on the menu, but I know that the fish here is very good so I chose fish and seafood courses.

For starters I ordered half a dozen oysters, but they brought me a dozen by mistake. I was allowed to eat them all for no additional charge. I like my oysters natural, with just a squeeze of lemon, but did try some with Tabasco (they brought me both varieties of Tabasco) which made a nice change.

Oysters

My companion chose scampi with a verjuice and kohlrabi remoulade and a scampi bisque.

Scampi

For main I had the special Red Emperor which was served with a salad of potatoes, radishes, peas and spring onion. The fish was fresh and perfectly cooked – I really enjoyed it.

Red emperor

My companion chose another special of barramundi which was served with a tomato and fennel risotto.

Barramundi

We shared a side dish of peas with speck ham and lettuce which was delicious.

Feeling nicely full, we were not sure if we would need a dessert, but decided to look at the menu and were tempted by two triumphs, firstly Apples, Apples, Apples which was a dutch apple cake with caramel sauce, an apple sorbet and a Granny Smith Apple jelly. The items on the plate complemented each other perfectly.

Apple jelly, apple sorbet, dutch apple cake.

I chose an ice cream sandwich with chocolate mint ice cream and chocolate sauce, held together with hazelnut meringue biscuits.

Choc mint ice cream sandwich

The whole meal was very enjoyable, and as I left, I asked myself why I don’t dine here more often. I’ll be back very soon.

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The Silk Road, Ardross

UPDATE – Silk Road has now permanently closed.

I first went to The Silk Road in Applecross a few years ago. I couldn’t particularly remember the last meal, so decided to give it another try as I have an Entertainment Book card.

The Silk Road Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The menu was full of my favourite dishes: peking duck rolls, tempura, rendang etc. although it does not specialise in one particular cuisine. Hans cafe is similar in this respect, and I tend to find that restaurants which try to do pan-asian tend to be unauthentic – I would much rather they offered fewer dishes in a specialist cuisine rather than trying to be all things to all people.

I chose the degustation 2 menu because it included a lot of my favourites – not cheap at $95. You can pay a bit more and have matched wines if you like – the restaurant is fully licensed.

Here is a photo diary of my meal:

The first starter was a large piece of soft shell crab with a cucumber shooter. This was very nice, the crab was crisp and not greasy, and the cucumber shooter was a lovely palate cleanser afterwards.

Soft shell crab with cucumber shooter

The second starter was prawn tempura with a seafood roll and a tempura onion ring. To be honest, I found the prawn a little bland and I much preferred the seafood roll which was delicious. The sauces offered with this course were a dish of dark soy, which was not needed and a dish of mild chilli sauce which also did not match particularly well with the tempura. I would have preferred the classic japanese dipping sauce with a pile of grated daikon to add to it, or a classic chilli/lime/fish sauce/sugar concoction. Even a plum sauce for the seafood roll would have worked better.

Prawn tempura

The next course was my favourite. Peking duck rolls, and aniseed infused crispy pork belly. Both items were fabulous, even if the duck rolls were a little on the small side. Crispy peking duck is one of the few things that I miss from the UK.

Peking Duck Rolls and Aniseed Pork Belly

Next came the main of lamb cutlets, beef rendang and saffron rice. The rendang was nice, but lacking the depth of flavour that I usually expect from a rendang. The rice was lovely. The lamb cutlets were ok, but didn’t really belong on the same plate as the rendang. I would much rather have had a whole plate of rendang and rice – achar pickle accompanied the dish and was very good.

Lamb cutlets and Beef Rendang

For dessert there was a choice of home made sticky date pudding or passion fruit and rhubarb cheesecake. The cheesecake was whipped, not baked, and it was hard to detect the rhubarb flavour. The sticky date pudding was the better dessert of the two, but not mind blowingly good, and both dishes were decorated with strawberry sauce which did not add any value to the dish and was a bit superfluous. It would have been much more appropriate to have a little stack of stewed rhubarb and passion fruit coulis with the cheesecake, and maybe a fresh medjool date with the sticky date pudding.

Sticky Date pudding

So will I be going back to The Silk Road ? Probably not. If I am in the area and feel hungry, I would pop in for some peking duck wraps, but I certainly won’t be spending $95 on a degustation menu again. The portions were large enough to be satisfying, and there were a few gems among the menu, but it didn’t blow me away. The feeling I had about this restaurant was that it was cooking asian food for non-asian people. When you go to Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, a lot of the hotels have an asian restaurant that does a dumbed down, low-chilli variety of the local cuisine for western visitors. It’s ok, but nothing special, and I know that I would much rather be scouring the side streets and the food malls in the city for something that the locals would eat.

My personal advice to the pan-asian restaurants is this – choose a cuisine and cook that cuisine fabulously, stop trying to be a jack of all trades. There is definitely a market for pan-asian, otherwise these restaurants would not survive – but people of Perth – demand more, demand real authentic cuisine – you will have a much more delicious and fulfilling experience.

Prawn Puri

Have you ever tried prawn puri as a starter in an indian restaurant ? The puri does not refer to a ‘puree’ i.e. mashed food, but is the name of an indian bread which is flat and lightly fried – also called poori in some regions.

It is remarkably easy to make.

For the puri bread you need 2 1/2 cups of chapatti flour (low gluten atta flour) and one cup of water. Mix them together to form a dough, knead the dough, then wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. You can leave it for a few days if you want to make it in advance. Knead it again and divide it into 6 portions. Roll each portion into a round and fry lightly in a frypan which has been lightly greased with some vegetable or peanut oil. If you like them buttery, you can butter the breads while they are still hot.

For the prawn bhuna you need:

½  tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp coriander powder

½  tsp cumin powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp garam masala

1 tsp green masala paste

2 onions

3 tbsp tomato paste

approx 6 large raw prawns per person with shells removed

  1. Blend one onion until mushy. Chop the other one into small pieces and fry it in oil and butter until soft.
  2. Put the dry spices in a large pan and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add half a cup of hot water. Cook to reduce the water by half.
  3. Add the green masala paste, tomato paste and mushy onion to the spice mixture.
  4. Cook for 10- 20 minutes until the’ rawness’ of the onion has dissipated.
  5. If the onions still taste hot, add half a teaspoon of sugar and stir well.
  6. Add the fried onions and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  7. Peel the prawns and rinse them.  Stir the juice of half a lemon (or a whole lime) into the prawns, leave for a while to marinate, then when ready to serve add them to the curry sauce. Stir in some fresh coriander.

To assemble the prawn puri, place a puri on a plate, and spoon prawn bhuna over the top. If you like you can add some minty yoghurt sauce, onion salad or cucumber raitha. I often serve mine with some dhal. You can also serve the curry with chicken or crab instead of prawns.

Prawn Puri

Waterside Inn, Bray, United Kingdom

The Waterside Inn at Bray, Berkshire is the only restaurant in the UK to have held 3 Michelin stars for over 25 years. The restaurant  was opened by Albert and Michel Roux in 1972 and gained its first star in 1974, its second in 1977 and the third in 1985. In 1986 Michel took over the running of the restaurant and passed the reins to his son Alain in 2002.
Waterside Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

At the time of writing there are only 4 restaurants in the UK that hold 3 Michelin stars, so that gives you an idea of the enormity of this achievement. You know that when you dine here you are going to experience something truly special. The restaurant is in a lovely setting. Bray is a sweet little English village that could feature on a jigsaw or a chocolate box, and the Waterside Inn is right on the river Thames.

The Waterside Inn

The Waterside Inn

When you arrive at the restaurant, one of the staff valet parks your car for you, such a lovely touch, but also a sensible one because parking is limited. The staff are very friendly and welcoming, they are attentive, but not overly so, and you soon get the feeling that you are about to have a very special dinner in a friend’s dining room.

Waterside Inn Dining Room

You can choose A la carte or Le Menu Exceptionnel – we chose the latter which is a tasting menu showcasing the best of Alain’s creations. I have had tasting menus before, and they are usually fairly small portions which end up with you feeling just full, but the Waterside Inn is different, the portions are relatively generous, so be careful not to fill up on bread (I saved some bread on my side plate to mop up the delicious sauces with every course).

We were served canapes consisting of a tart with mussel and lemon, a light as air cheese pastry bun and a duck terrine served on a crisp biscuit. Each mouthful was perfect, no flavour was too overpowering and every ingredient added something to the overall taste. Mmmmm what a taste of things to come.

Canapes

Apologies for the quality of some of my photographs, but I am no photographic expert, and I couldn’t seem to get the lighting right. The quality of the photos on the Waterside Inn web site is much better.

Next came an amuse bouche which was a profiterole of mushrooms with a parsley sauce:

Mushroom Profiterole

Next was a lobster salad with citrus jelly and raspberry vinaigrette. This was one of my favourite courses – I love lobster, and I loved the fact that the serving was large enough to give you a real taste of the lobster:

Lobster salad

Next was an incredibly smooth chestnut and champagne veloute with partridge and fois gras dumplings:

Veloute

Following the veloute was a fish course of turbot baked in a vine leaf and served with white grapes and a verjus emulsion. I love turbot. :

Turbot

There was a choice of main course – we chose the duck, which was expertly carved at the table. This was a spit-roast Challandais duck with a bubble and squeak patty, some apple, and a calvados flavoured jus:

Challandais duck

Then onto dessert, firstly a sable biscuit with pears and blueberries:

Sable with pears and blueberries

Followed by a very special warm golden plum souffle:

Golden plum souffle

With very full tummies we were invited to sit in the lounge for tea and coffee, when we were presented with a tiered stand of amazing petit fours, each one expertly crafted:

Petit fours

The whole experience was memorable, and each course an absolute triumph. The restaurant manager, Diego chatted with us during the meal, he was charming and entertaining, and before we left, we met Alain Roux who was interested to gain our feedback on the meal.

I can honestly say that the Waterside Inn is a unique, memorable and enjoyable venue, and I am very much looking forward to returning there.

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