1 Barrack St, Perth, West Australia
I arrived …
Via the lobby of the newly-opened and super-luxe Ritz-Carlton Perth; the only Ritz-Carlton in Australasia. It's full-bore, international glamour. Dress up.
I chose here because …It was the talk of Perth, having opened just days before. Executive chef Jed Gerrard is already celebrated in this part of the world, having been head chef at Wildflower, one of Perth's top spots.
My first impression was …
Wow, this is gorgeous and very international. It's a light and airy space decorated in luxurious creams and blues, with stunning modern chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows on one side. A feature is the long marble kitchen bench showcasing an impressive open cooking fire; the restaurant is dedicated to celebrating the art of cooking over fire - hence the name.
I started with …Spent grain bread and native thyme butter. Normally I don't bother with bread at the start of a multi-course meal. But I couldn't keep away from this. Made from leftover brewery grains, its nutty texture and the fragrant, tangy butter were a homely, confident and delicious start.
The highlight was … Chef Gerrard, who, incidentally, has spent a chunk of his life cooking in New Zealand. He is focused on celebrating indigenous ingredients from all over Western Australia.
So in this meal, I discovered ingredients I had never heard of or eaten before. One was pearl meat, from Quandong Point, served with two other ingredients that were new to me: shaved boab tuber (a radish-like, sweetish tuber, served raw) and Geraldton wax, a flowering shrub.
The pearl meat, which is the adductor muscle of the pearl-producing oyster, is a little like sweet, raw scallop, but chewier (in a good way). Surrounded by a fragrant coconut-rich broth, this was fresh, earthy and totally innovative.
I also loved the map on the back of the menu showing the provenance of local ingredients. And I loved the small details that make this place a class act: the small metal holder our server set up beside the table to hang handbags on and keep them off the floor; the superb stylish design of the staff uniforms; the piles of beautiful local produce displayed on the kitchen counter.
Dessert was … Dellendale camembert icecream with sandalwood nuts and hearth-grilled strawberries. If that sounds weird, just trust me and try it, especially if you're a person who loves a light, less-sweet dessert. Or you could go for a Eucalyptus flan with finger lime; or grilled gooseberries with sheep's yoghurt. My advice: save room.
Come here if … You're after a uniquely Australian, very special experience and you're interested in exploring truly local and indigenous Australian ingredients. Open your mind and engage your curiosity, and you won't be disappointed.
The bill … I was hosted by the hotel. Expect to spend about $100 a person plus drinks for three courses and bread.