Thursday, 27 November 2014

Darlings Supper Club, Northbridge, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

A few months ago, Alissa and I tried the original menu of Darling Supper Club, a new Asian Fusion themed restaurant and sake bar in Northbridge from the Andy Freeman and Sam Astbury-led creative team behind the incredible Varnish on King, as well as the recently opened Flour Factory. A surprising appearance in the Good Food Guide notwithstanding, the early reviews for Darlings were mixed to say the least, and we sadly had to agree that while the drinks list was characteristically commendable, the food was clumsy in its execution with a seemingly poor understanding about what makes good Asian Fusion food work. This was a real shame as what made Varnish on King's food so impressive was how it over delivered for a place that is ostensibly a whiskey bar, whereas Darlings paradoxically under delivered in spite of being more food focused.

That was in early September. A little over a week ago in mid-November, we received an email inviting us to a bloggers' Sunday lunch at Darlings to try their new menu. Realising that things were not working, Darlings had gone through some major changes; we would learn this included the firing of 5 chefs in three months(!) and the hiring of a trio of new talent in the form of Joel Robert as the new head chef,  an Iron Chef Thailand alum nicknamed 'The Chopper' and Youngwoo from South Korea bringing his sashimi skills and knowledge to the Darlings kitchen. Seeing how seriously the creative team wanted this place to work, Alissa and I immediately said yes. Coincidentally, the event's date - Sunday 23rd of November - marked our first wedding anniversary, providing a lovely opportunity for a celebratory Sunday lunch.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Tatami, Bateman, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

In spite of being adventurous eaters who are always on the look out for new and interesting places to eat, Alissa and I can be very much creatures of habit. On a regular week night when we're too lazy to cook or to go anywhere too far from home, Alissa and I will invariably go for 'Japanese'. In spite of a few Japanese restaurants within 5 minutes from our house, we both understand that going for 'Japanese' means going to Kai - a tiny, always packed restaurant in Bull Creek that serves up one of our favourite bowls of tonkotsu ramen in Perth as well as excellent renditions of others classics like teriyaki chicken, gyoza and udon (both hot and cold). With Kai's ramen being as good as it is, it took us a while to follow up on a tip to try the ramen at the relatively new Japanese restaurant Tatami.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Flour Factory, Perth, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

The last time the Google Streetview Car drove down Queen St was in November 2007. Although the Queen St of today is still dominated by the imposing power of the Brutalist carpark located where the road meets Wellington St, the grainy, low fidelity images seem to come from another time. While its heritage building proudly displayed its year of construction, 1907 was not yet the name of a fine dining restaurant and bar, the corner of Queen and Murray St was a construction site and the building that would house Venn Gallery was the home of WA Hospital Supply.

Clearly seeing the future prominence of the streets that surround the area of the Perth City Link, some of Perth's most savvy restaurateurs have obviously seen an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the new Perth, with none perhaps being as wildly ambitious as Andy Freeman. Opened last year on King St, Varnish on King's focus on whiskey, wine and some of the best, more refined bar food in Perth had us gushing so positively that it remains the most read post at the Ministry of Gluttony. Others obviously agreed as Varnish was recently awarded Best Small Bar in Australia by Australian Bartender Magazine. To follow this up, Freeman and business partner Sam Astbury opened the late night Sake and Dumplings themed Darlings Supper Club on the Northbridge side of the future link earlier this year. More food focused in appearance than Varnish, Alissa and I found Darlings' food paradoxically less impressive, so when we heard about the opening of Freeman's third opening in the area - the bakery, butchery and fortified wine focused Flour Factory - we were interested to see how it fared.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

MoG @ Home #3 - The Fat Duck (Ministry of Gluttony at Home)

Before I really knew much about Modernist cooking, I knew about Heston Blumenthal. Unaware of the pioneering (and arguably even more impressive) work of Ferran Adria and his peers, watching Heston's Feasts for the first time was a true eye opener. Fresh as I was out of art school when the first season aired, I saw someone working with food in a way that seemed closer in spirit to early 20th century Modern Art than any cooking that I'd seen before. Like the optimistic visual artists of the pre-war era, Heston's belief that anything was and still is possible was a comforting thought in an art world that to me at the time seemed jaded and cast adrift into a cycle of pastiche. And the fact all the new technologies, techniques and ingredients meant anything truly could be possible made it all the more impressive.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Ah Mei Cafe, Canning Vale, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Back in June, Alissa and I dined at Formosa Vegetarian Eating House in Kardinya. During the meal, a regular of the restaurant recommended a dish for us to try. From this chance encounter he later got in touch with me after seeing the Formosa blog post appear on Urbanspoon, eventually sending me an email with a list of places to check out. His good leads resulted in satisfying dinners at Bateman Eating House and Silver Sushi, as well as a few we have yet to get around to. As much a fan of noodles as I am, he sent us a second round of leads in October, informing us that we had to try the Bakmie noodles and Chicken Rice at Ah Mei Cafe.

Cafe 140, Bunbury, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

During the Queen's Birthday weekend, Alissa and I joined a group of friends for a getaway in Dunsborough to celebrate the birthday of our friend Annaliese, as well as personal milestones like the end of Alissa's teaching prac, and my joy at seeing the end of the WA Day to Queen's Birthday public holiday drought. On our way home on the Monday, Alissa, our friend Ben and I decided to stop into Bunbury for lunch. In the past, Alissa and I have always popped into Benesse for our breakfast pit stop on the way Down South, but after walking to see the birds in Anzac Park we decided to have our lunch at Cafe 140, located nearby at the end of the Victoria St main drag.