Celebrating Derek’s birthday we found ourselves at Tony Roma’s Restaurant in Perth’s CBD. The birthday boy was super excited about tucking into some sticky slow cooked ribs. When I initially phoned earlier in the week to make a reservation, the staff member advised the restaurant doesn’t take bookings on a Saturday of which I responded ‘I have a group, will this be an issue?’ ‘Yes ma’am, before 7pm is recommended’ he said. Okay I thought. We took a gamble and chose to stick with the original plan of Tony Roma’s. Fortunately, our friends turned up at 6.20pm securing a roomy booth table, a gamble it was, because when Derek and I walked in the door shortly afterwards at 6.30 pm, there was a line out the door.
The large sized restaurant is located on Hay Street towards the west end of town. The blend of families and the usual Saturday night drinking crowd, gives rise to a lively fun atmosphere. The best seats are definitely the booths which happen to be slightly raised over the dining room. It’s a fantastic restaurant for groups with plenty of room around the tables.
We began our evening with a round of celebratory drinks for the birthday boy. Unfortunately the wine menu lacked in the sparkling wine section, and it was a real shame there isn’t any West Australian ones to choose. The boys ordered a few rounds of beer and noted there doesn’t appear to be any beers on tap.
We took some time browsing the menu, the world famous rib section offers 9 rib dishes and 6 signature sauce choices – wowee! Other dishes include; burgers, salads, sandwiches, steaks and chops, seafood, pasta and chicken. Choice is certainly not scarce at Tony Roma’s and neither are the condiments, there is impressively 8 salad dressing options.
Birthday boy and one of our friends went all out and ordered the St Louis Sampler, a selection of the trademarked St Louis ribs and four different sauces. I’m a little curious about the whole concept behind trademarking food, and really, what makes it so special?
The ribs were served with a small bowl of coleslaw and your choice of side. The variety of sides to choose from was actually pretty decent, and, including dairy and gluten free. The boys devoured the extra saucy covered ribs in no time, in between, mopping up the extra sauce with the fried chips. With the amount of flavoursome sauce there was little taste of the slow cooked meat and the boys were still hungry, granted ribs in general offer a small meat portion size, more sides were probably needed. Or as Derek said, he could have eaten 2 of the St Louis sampler dish.
St Louis sampler $44.50
The surprise of the evening was the Memphis burger, and it was made up of flat squares of cheddar cheese, bacon, chunky red onion, pickle, pulled pork and a beef patty. The meat was smothered in memphis BBQ sauce and served with fried chips and coleslaw, making it a fairly epic dish, and almost half the price of the ribs. The surprise of the dish was the beef patty. Either my friend was lucky or the beef patty was omitted from the menu in error. Either way, it was a score!
I went with the organic Tasmanian grass fed striploin, asking for the beef to be cooked to rare, and very pleased that it was just that. The steak dishes are all topped with Tony Roma’s own savoury steak butter (which is either homemade butter or butter blended with trademarked spice). It was juicy and tasty to eat, thanks to the butter no doubt! The striploin is normally served with a dinner salad, however this evening the waitress directed me to choose a side instead, I went with broccoli and was really happy with this. In winter its nicer eating warm vegetables. The not so standard mashed potato was spiced up with chives, tiny cubes of bacon and grated cheese. It was absolutely delicious and left me wanting more. In saying this, I can never eat enough of mashed potatoes, it’s one of my all time favourite vegetables.
Grass fed cape grim striploin $44.95
We had a wonderful evening at Tony Roma’s. One of the stand outs of this restaurant is the choices available for the dishes. With the central city location of the restaurant, following dinner there’s plenty of drinking bars and pubs nearby. We moved our party on to the Belgian Beer Cafe for a couple of drinks. A little further away is Koko Black for a hot chocolate and dessert. The meal prices were definitely on the high side for a chain restaurant and for this I don’t think we will return. It would have been nice to see more West Australian produce on the menu for locavore diners:)