Barking mad for Barque, Fremantle
Outside of the hubbub of central Fremantle, a colonial style house sits on George St with beaming lights and wafts of aromas that include cinnamon, garlic and all other elements that make up fusion Asian.
Before going to Barque, I had heard so many great things from one of the guys who works with me. And since in my mind I was likening it to Kitsch and Apple Daily, I was extremely excited to try this Asian style restaurant which has an amazing sounding menu and rave reviews.
Jeremy picked me up from work on Thursday night for a planned trip to the movies. But as we sat in the car, we both realised that we were starving instead and headed to Fremantle.
We arrive and are seated straight away even though we don't have a booking; the extremely friendly staff seating us on the balcony on stools. I have to say, the staff here are fantastic - they chat to us about the menu and are extremely pleased when we choose some of the dishes that are their own personal favourites. I think that's always a great start to a dinner!
Prawn and crab meat pancake
We start off with a dish that takes me straight back to Vietnam. It's a savoury pancake with prawn, crab, fried shallots, grapefruit segments and lots of fresh herbs. It's delicious! The egg pancake is soft and flavoursome, soaking up the juices of the seafood. The contrast of delicate crab with the sourness of the grapefruit is lovely; as is the intense flavours and crunch of the fried shallots. While it didn't have the kind of chilli punch that I would have otherwise loved for this dish, overall it was my favourite for the night.
Jeremy chooses to have a house Ginger Beer as we eat - which he declares to be great. It's bottle bundaberg ginger beer but with added ginger and lemon included. I do have a quick sip but I just can't get into this whole ginger beer craze. Instead I revel in my incredibly fragrant peppermint tea. It really hits the spot and I make a mental note that it's Toby's Estate so that I can buy some for home. It's warming and so soothing.
Next up from the small part of the menu we ordered the Duck and Shitake Spring Rolls. They come out beautifully presented on a wooden board atop of shredded cabbage; a coriander leaf and chilli slice balanced precisely on top. The spring roll pastry is crisp; the duck juicy and the shitake mushroom really packed full of flavour. There's a drizzle of a creamy mayonnaise like sauce on top which adds another dimension to the overall dish. I have to say, I really, truly loved this!
Duck and shitake spring rolls
From the larger portion of the menu is the Shan Pork Ribs with Tumeric and Tomato. It comes as a slightly larger dish than I expected; three stacks of ribs sitting on a blue and white plate. The pork is completely falling off the bone, the flavour of the glaze different but in the best way possible. It's sweet but has a chilli kick - how yummy! I love how tender the meat is and how it just melts in your mouth. The addition of the fried garlic chips elevates everything that's taking place as I savour the taste.
Our final savoury dish for the night is a special that evening. Groper caught that day on wilted cabbage with chinese sausage slices. It was so fresh that you could taste the sea. The fish is cooked perfectly; slightly translucent in the middle with the flesh flaking away with a prod of my fork. The skin is crisped to a tee and works well with the Asian style cabbage.
Crispy skinned groper
We've eaten just enough savoury for the night so we move on to dessert. On recommendation from our waitress, we choose two dishes to share, starting with the Chocolate Mousse with Chilli Choc Caramel and Peanut Brittle.
This is a nice dessert for chocolate lovers. The mousse is dense and rich; the light fluffy cream on top helping cut through this. I love the scattering of the peanut brittle on top which is crunchy and both sweet and savoury at the same time. The chilli choc caramel drizzled around the outside is pretty fantastic - it's sour and has a little heat.
The standout dessert and probably dish of the night, is the Jasmine Creme Brulee with Blood Plums. I have to say, this caught my eye in particular because I think plums are such an underrated fruit - and I eat a lot of them all the time.
The creme brulee has that satisfying crack that emanates as we both simultaneously tap our spoons on the sugary surface. Inside the creamy brulee is eggy and smooth, with this lovely tea flavour throughout each velvety bite. The plums on side are sour and though a little hard to cut through with our fork, they are ripe and delicious.
This is a dessert that wows.
I have to say, I am so, so happy that we decided to ditch the movies so that we could go to Barque instead. This fusion Asian has great flavours; great service and a great overall package as a restaurant. It definitely is worth the drive down to Fremantle for food like this!