Our New Year celebrations have been fairly low key for the past couple of years. Last year we hiked, watched a documentary about Phillippe Petit, the man who tightrope walked the north and south towers of the World Trade Center (unbelievable!), and fell asleep before midnight somewhere in the country town of Bridgetown. It was bliss. Having said that, feeling that 2015 was particularly harder than most, we decided to treat ourselves with a little glitz and glamour, more to the point – a feast! Quite a few restaurants around Perth were hosting degustation dinners and it’s something we’ve wanted to do for some time now. Combing through a number of options for late dinner sittings priced substantially higher, to include a drinks package or not, to commit without the menu, the Terrace Hotel caught our eye. A 6 course degustation with a glass of champagne and a set price for the whole night. We booked a table with friends for 7.30pm.
Located along the west end of St Georges Terrace, the charming 1892 heritage listed building is shadowed by tall sleek skyscrapers and sits as a window into Western Australia’s past. Formerly named the Bishop’s Grove and then St George’s House, the building was constructed by the Anglican Church over 100 hundred years ago and is looking beautiful as ever. These days it’s an elegant 15 room hotel and restaurant under the Best Western brand. The decor eludes an old world charm of exquisite chandeliers, bold art décor paintings and an elegant mahogany wood bar studded with brass fittings. With a pinch of theatrical imagination the scene is ‘ready, set, go’ for James Bond to waltz on in and effortlessly seduce a dame. I guess you could say this is a restaurant to ‘dress your best’.
As we walk into the front courtyard, we are kindly greeted and shown to our table inside the restaurant. Flutes of the French champagne, Pommery follow, and we make our first toast for the evening. *clink* A look around the room tells me we are the last to arrive, the dining room is full, however the room seems a little quiet, so much so, we talk in low hushed tones. It feels slightly awkward. Thankfully not long afterwards a band in the courtyard fills the mild silence with music. The evening begins to roll and so do the drinks….
The Terrace Hotel has a humidified and acclimatized wine vault, and naturally one would expect to see a decent drinks menu on offer. Surely so, the black leather bound file does indeed cover an extensive range of local and international names, including quite a few wines and quality champagne by the glass.
Complimentary bread and butter arrives to the table and this settles our hungry stomachs.
The amuse-bouche is a pastry cappelletti filled with duck, leek and mushroom over a porcini broth. The savoury and strong taste of the broth is enjoyable. It’s a good start.
The first course features fish. Pinky smoked salmon is fashioned into a roulade of blue manna crab, yoghurt, cucumber and caviar. It’s creamy in texture and refreshing. It disappears with two short bites, and in one from my friend.
Smoked salmon and blue manna crab roulade with cucumber yoghurt and black caviar
Any preconceived thoughts that we may have held about being hungry after dinner disappears when the next couple of courses are delivered to our table.
The second course is a tartlet of creamed baby beetroot and goat’s cheese, the pink colour of the filling is eye pleasing. The two contrasting temperatures of the warm filling and cold pastry do not seem to fit, and it’s a shame because the sharp goats cheese in the filling, alongside the reduced balsamic sauce is tantalising.
Baby beetroot and goats cheese tarlet with reduced balsamic and watercress
Course three is a fillet of pink snapper on a fennel, mascarpone cream and topped with a fresh lime and tomato black pepper salsa. To be truthful, I do not have the strongest love for fish but I like the simple flavours of the dish and the creaminess of the mascarpone cheese.
At the beginning of the night our preference for the beef fillet was taken down by our waitor. Thinking about it now, the task of cooking beef fillets to order for a full restaurant at the same time, is one of mammoth proportions. My rare beef fillet is done perfectly to order and joins creamy warm potato mash, mushroom and cherry tomatoes. In my eyes, all the right foods to have with beef, I get excited when my other half cooks this at home. The dish is finished with a traditional béarnaise sauce. This course is definitely the highlight of the dinner and although, understandably, a slight wait accompanied by a number of staff apologising to us, I must say, kitchen, you nailed it. Thank you!
Medallion of Angus beef fillet on a fondant potato, Portobello mushroom, blistered cherry tomatoes and béarnaise sauce
Fifth course, some hours later, and towards the end of our first degustation experience was *drum roll** dessert! A lovely colourful raspberry and white chocolate cheese cake with a liberal amount of limoncello anglaise sauce and chocolate fairy floss topping. The tart flavour of the cheese cake and raspberry came through the strongest over the white chocolate and anglaise sauce. It is sweetly delicious.
Raspberry and white chocolate cheese cake with limoncello anglaise and chocolate fairy floss
Following five courses of food we are, well and truly full, what a feast! The final course is tea and coffee as well as chocolate truffles. As much as I love coffee I opt not to have one because I confess, I am one of those people that can’t do coffee after a certain time of day otherwise I won’t sleep. My friend on the other hand can have one at night and it puts him too sleep. I wish! Because at this point in the evening, the aroma is ripe in the room and it’s a real tease for this coffee drinking girl.
Chocolate truffles and tea and coffee
We all agreed, ringing in 2016 over a degustation meal was a wonderful way to spend the evening. It was nice to have the opportunity to doll up and relax in old world surroundings sipping cocktails and champagne. Well, beer for the boys. The flow of dishes during the evening was nicely timed and we found ourselves eating well after 11:00pm, this was perfect, and exactly the experience we were hoping for. We were all full and completely satisfied from the delicious food the Terrace Hotel delivered. The service during the entire evening from start to end was exceptional, our supremo waiter Fabrizio was just great and always nearby for top up of drinks. I think that was his name, I was tipsy.
While this particular degustation didn’t necessarily feature experimental dishes that gave rise to discussion and debate about the combination of ingredients and use of produce, the courses focused on quite a few deliciously traditional and familiar flavours and combinations.
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