It's been a crazy period in my life lately work wise with a massive project and some subsequent projects consuming my every waking minute. And now that it's finally come to a triumphant and successful end, I've found myself hitting up some favourite places to eat at to celebrate. Cue Cantina 663.
I cannot believe that it took me so long to eventually make it here to start off with, and now I find myself a regular. It's the kind of place that showcases Mediterranean flavours and dishes with flair and aplomb. This is not your standard pasta and tapas joint in the slightest.
Jeremy and I headed there one Friday night; booking a table in advance since they get really busy and I didn't want to risk not getting a table. It was 8pm when we arrived and the place is packed; the dim candle light flickering softly on each table while people chatted animatedly over plates of delicious looking (and smelling) food.
Duck liver parfait
We start things off with what I have to admit is something I constantly crave from Cantina - and is a dish I often order wherever I see it on the menu. The Duck Liver Parfait with Onion Jam ($15). It arrives as a beautifully presented serving - a giant slab of parfait with a generous heaping of onion jam and about six slices of thick cut charred bread that is crusty and smokey.
I have no idea how I can properly articulate just how much I enjoy the parfait here. So let me just throw these adjectives at you because it may at least be halfway to giving it justice. Think light, smooth, velvety, creamy, rich, buttery, flavoursome and it's a start to the experience. For parfait or pate or even any kind of dip lovers, this is a must!
Next up we choose the Salmon Crudo with Radish, Herb and Coriander Salsa ($16 I think). I really liked this dish - it was so fresh and zingy; the kind of bite that sends your tastebuds into overdrive to the point where they're almost aching. The fish was melt in your mouth tender, and the radish and salsa crunchy but sweet. The citrus and olive oil dressing was smooth and coated my mouth, working well with the ingredients on the plate.
Our third starter dish (yes we were incredibly greedy and had a starter each plus a shared starter) were some crispy Mushroom Croquettes ($16.50) which sat on a plum puree with dried pear slices, slivers of red onion, radish slices and a scattering of chives. There's also a small serving of goats cheese dropped throughout.
Really, what's not to love when it comes to croquettes? It's fried, cheesy goodness! The outside is crunchy and crisp; the inside soft and steaming hot. I love the use of fruits in this dish - it's such a playful twist which adds in some texture and sweetness to the earthiness of the mushroom. The use of the onions and the chives gives it a savoury reinforcement which all round balances the dish. Pretty delicious stuff!
For his main, Jeremy chooses the Fettucini ($21). For the life of us both, we cannot remember the exact details of this dish except that it had slivers of jamon serrano, plenty of basil and a delicious crumb of some kind throughout. We have no idea how we've forgotten what was in it! And the sad thing is, it really did taste good.
As you can see from the photo, it came out with a great mountain of grated parmesan cheese over the top which melted slightly and clung to the al dente pasta like a sauce of it's own. They really do know how to make, cook and dress their pasta here!
For my main, just like every other time I come here, I cannot get past the pan-fried Gnocchi ($23). It comes out sitting in a beautiful smooth pumpkin cream with basic, goats cheese, toasted almonds and a grated parmesan.
As it arrived, the guy sitting at the table next to ours leans over to tell me I'm going to love it! And yes, I did! The gnocchi is little heavenly pillows; crunchy on the outside and oh so soft on the inside. The basil throughout lifts it with some freshness and intensity, and the pumpkin cream is smooth and sweet. I love the crunchy almonds that are scattered throughout and that wonderfully rich goats cheese and just creates an indulgence to the dish.
Sadly our greed with our starters meant that we were too full to eat dessert. Cue sadness! But all in all, our night was phenomenal - the service efficient and attentive, the flavours on point and impressive. With food like this, it's easy to see why I continue to come back here and I gravitate to their gnocchi so loyally.
Cantina 663 truly is one of my favourite places in Perth. Each and every time I eat here, I fall more and more in love.