When you ask others around Perth which restaurant is their favourite for a special occasion dinner, you're often met with a slight swooning reaction as they dreamily stare off into the distance once uttering one simple word. Amuse.
Hidden away in East Perth amongst blocks of housing and apartments sits this family owned venture, which is run by married couple Carolynne and Hadleigh Troy. Their vision for a fine dining degustation menu restaurant has translated into a creature with a reputation that results in awe and respect. It's revolutionary and constantly evolving, to the point where it is now not just one of our fine state's top eateries, but has won national acclaim.
And naturally, it's been on my wishlist to eat at for what feels like forever.
For those who haven't been - this place does not offer you a menu before you dine. Simply, you arrive and are presented with a folded card with the night's courses. It's a tempting blue card that sits on the table oh so temptingly, but somehow despite our utter curiosity, we managed to resist. We liked the element of surprise and wanted to add even more wonder to the night.
But that didn't mean that a glass of sparkling wine wasn't in order. With interest in the Fraser Woods ($12/glass) I asked the waitress for a glass and she smiled quickly, advising us that it had recently won a new award and would be a lovely way to start our night off. Jeremy, though initially interested in the cider, decided to join me for a glass to toast the occasion.
We're not even into the actual meal yet and we're already impressed. One thing I particularly like about this place is that with each course a different member of the wait staff or from the kitchen bring the dish to your table and explain the ingredients used and the cooking process. It makes you respect what they're doing all the more - and appreciate the flavours of each carefully constructed course.
The bread is wonderful - crusty on the edges and soft and fluffy on the inside. The olive oil butter spreads like a dream, offering that aromatic velvet-like texture with each bite. But that kitchen made butter is definitely the winner here. Though I know I am a massive butter fan, this is just incredible. It's light, rich and has just the right amount of creaminess. I definitely had to keep my cool here with this so that I didn't fill up before the meal actually started. The offer of additional bread was regretfully turned down as we started our actual dining experience with the arrival of the first course.
This dish is piquantly delicate. The tomatoes used are acidic and fresh; the strips of courgette flavour neutral which works well when you take into account those lovely goats cheese squares which are cool, wobbly and packed full of taste. I like the light use of the tomato oil that the entire dish sits in.
It is so clever. It encapsulates utter magic and wonderment. The egg drips down with each spoonful that is combined with the thin layer of butter. The combination of mushrooms used as soft and moorish; the chicken skins crunchy and wickedly fatty. And with that stick of brioche, it's like a Wonka version of soldiers and eggs. Yes, it is very easy to see why this is a dish that has taken the world by storm.
But don't be alarmed, you can taste the nettles but you feel no pain thankfully. They add a really great lift to the sauce and transforms it into something I've never tasted before. The dish is finished off with fresh cuttlefish and a sprinkling of sweet potato crumbs for some added crunch.
The rabbit wrapped in silverbeet is definitely the best of the two cuts - it's soft, flaky and juicy, and comes sitting on a prune puree which offers a sweet offset to the savoury elements of the dish. This dish was definitely my least favourite of them all for the night - the strip was just a bit too dry for my taste and didn't really celebrate this choice of meat. But that said, it still tasted really enjoyable so you can only imagine how phenomenal the other dishes were by comparison.
I love the buckwheat that sits on top, offering an exciting crunch that contradicts the texture of the duck. Underneath it sits on a puree of cauliflower and kim chi which is slightly spicy but oh so incredibly silky. The broccoletti present looks great on the plate but doesn't actually add anything to the flavours of the dish. It's cooked to perfection too, yielding to my knife with ease. And then that sweet corn - well my heart was definitely sold on this. Lightly charred, with a slick of yoghurt, it lived up to its name in its sweetness, but it also offered a juicy element to the dish.
The triple cream was the best of them all (middle of the board), especially when paired with the rhubarb jam or slices of juicy apple. It was a nice pre-dessert course even though we probably didn't need it!
Though the final product doesn't look that great, believe me the taste is something of epic proportions! The cream is airy, light and decadent. The use of different fruits offers different levels of sweetness and tartness. The mulberries are rich, the strawberries sugary. And the blood orange is acidic and cuts through all other flavours with dominating flair.
As our final dessert course is laid out before us, our waiter very sweetly places down a plaque before us bearing an equally sweet message. It's a lovely touch that demonstrates how customer focussed this restaurant is.
This dessert looks bizarre I know! It's blobs of chocolate jelly which taste like chico lollies, with miniature walls of beetroot meringue that is crunchy and not overly sugary. There's wattle dust and icecream made using liquid nitrogen. It feels very mad scientist! There's a lot going on in this dish and though I can appreciate how it tastes, I definitely preferred the simplicity of the first dessert.
When we've finished our degustation for the night, out comes a tray of complimentary treats with an accompanying cup of steaming tea. There's sunrise limes dipped in chocolate which fall a bit short of the mark for me. They're a bit too crunchy and lacking of any wow factor.
The pineapple jube is lovely though - it's soft in texture and jelly-like without being stiff. It holds a good amount of flavouring and leaves a resonating pineapple taste in my mouth. I like the sugared blueberries the most out of these all, though it's quite a simple process. They pop with the right balance of sweet and sour.
I have to say, Restaurant Amuse definitely lived up to my expectations - and surpassed them! It is just such a special restaurant, with the most amazing dishes to enjoy. I can see why people rave about this place over and over - and I can safely say I will be back. It truly is too good to stay away.