A theatrical night at No 4 Blake Street, Mount Lawley
Nestled in the heart of North Perth suburbia, a new restaurant has drawn my attention since it's doors first opened. No 4 Blake Street is as the name suggests, situated on Blake Street. It offers breakfast (or brunch) and high tea in a beautiful and simple setting. And then come nightfall, the kitchen of the restaurant are hidden behind a dramatic red curtain and it becomes the stage for what they describe as a theatrical experience. I've been dying to come here.
Inside the restaurant
After an initial booking set back where we had to cancel due to a birthday, Jeremy and I finally found ourselves inside this little French inspired restaurant which is the brainchild of Tom from Tom's Kitchen - a place I'm very fond of. Cue more excitement on my behalf definitely.
We arrive and are seated by our lovely host who has a beautiful smile and bubble personality, topped with a sweet French accent. She's so friendly and has us settled in, looking over the wine menu within minutes. Our food menus are rolled up into little paper scrolls waiting for our attention. But first we order our drinks before we dive into choosing our food for the evening.
Since we drove and neither of us were in the mood to go through an entire bottle of wine, we decide to choose a glass each. For me, I opt for a glass of the Shaw and Smith 2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($12) which is from Adelaide Hills. It's crisp and slightly sweet, chilled perfectly. And like Jeremy's it comes out in a small carafe for me to top up my glass as I choose - great for keeping it at an ideal temperature and less exposed. It goes a treat with the courses of food, a great choice for enjoying throughout the meal.
Jeremy chooses a glass of the Carinae 2009 Malbec ($13) which is an Argentinian red wine that has notes of blackberry and is slightly sweet. Though I'm not a red drinker normally, I really enjoyed trying this and would happily order this myself. No wonder it comes highly recommended.
House made butters
As we toast to our nice date night out, we unroll our menu to look at the choices for our degustation. What needs to be noted - and definitely appreciated - is that at No 4 Blake Street, it isn't your standard degustation meal. Here you can choose to do three courses for $70 (no dessert) or five for $90. You choose three of the courses and the others are built by the kitchen around your choices. How delightful! I especially like that though we love the same foods, Jeremy and I could choose something different to allow us to try a wider range. Naturally we go all in for the $90 option and I'm pleased to note that when booking they asked if we had any allergies or dietary requirements such as a gluten free option, nut allergy etc. It's great to see places so forthcoming in their desire to look after the customer. A great start!
We place our orders with our waitress and then it isn't long before she returns to us with a serving of bread and house made butter. Jeremy chooses the olive bread and I opt for a plain white bun. The butters on offer are really interesting - there's a vanilla butter, an olive butter and an orange zest butter. We both try all three and I have to say I love the vanilla butter in particular but the olive is also great. The orange zest is delicious too but I do prefer the others just as my own personal taste.
The breads are warm and freshly baked; the inside of both soft and moorish. The perfect vessels for trying these lovely butters that impress.
Not long after we finish our bread comes our first course, the Amuse bouche. This is one of the courses we don't choose so we're both excited to see what will come. We're not disappointed!
Placed in front of us both is what looks like an art masterpiece. In the centre is a golden fried piece of beef tendon decorated with micro herbs and surrounded by dots of pea puree and horseradish cream. It's just phenomenal. The beef tendon is gooey and oozy; it melts in your mouth. The pea puree is sweet and thick; and the horseradish cream is right up my alley as a wasabi lover. It's peppery and jam packed full of flavour that complements the beef like they were made for each other.
We are off to a great start - Jeremy and I are both already grinning. What a lovely beginning to what is yet to come.
It's simply beautiful. Three extremely plump scallops that are lightly caramelised on the outside and slightly translucent on the inside. They are cooked extremely well. There bone marrow custard is rich and gooey - it has so much flavour that I honestly want to crawl inside the bone segment and nest there. It's just fantastic. I love the dots of raspberry deduction, the raspberry crisp and the whole raspberry present (hidden in the photo). The sweetness counters the decadence of the custard and highlights the simplistic flavour profile of the scallops.
I choose the Yabby Tails Poached in Butter with Blood Orange Gel, Black Pudding and Purple Potato Crisps. It's visually stunning and tastes utterly elegant. The yabby tails are tender and flavoursome; the blood orange gel sweet and acidic. Jeremy's eyes light up at the sight of the black pudding and we both agree it's the best we have tried before. Love that they make it in house - it shows and is worth the effort. The potato crisps on side are sheer and have the texture of glass, but somehow pack a real wallop in terms of the amount of flavour inside. I also love the inclusion of edible flowers on here which taste sweet and earthy.
Our next course is one titled 'Al Dente' on the menu. It comes out as three perfectly crafted confit chicken tortellini with grilled pancetta on top. It sits atop of a creamy white wine sauce and has the barest topping of parmesan flakes and micro herbs.
As the name suggests, the pasta is cooked just under so it retains a toothsome quality. Italian head chefs would applaud how well it's done here. The filling inside is melt in your mouth and smooth like velvet. As a massive fan of all things cured meat, I love the pancetta on top which is crunchy and offers a good hit of saltiness.
Jeremy's next dish is Lamb with Sweetbreads, Chickpea Textures, Bell Pepper Puree and Smoked Yoghurt. I have to admit after one bite (we always swap forks to try each other's food), I have a massive bout of food envy. The lamb is moist and perfectly pink; the sweetbreads on top soft and moorish. I love the way the humble chickpea is showcased here because we are both massive fans of this lentil. There's the actual chickpeas, there's a really great chickpea tofu and a chickpea crisp. It all works so well together and though it doesn't look big, it's a decent size for a degustation portion. The best thing on the plate is definitely the smoked yoghurt - it's thick and rich and oh so lovely.
I choose a chicken dish which actually surprises both of us since it's a meat I'm not usually fussed over. But upon reading the dish's description I can't help but be drawn to it since it's more about the accompanying mushrooms than the chicken. It comes out, as all the other dishes have, presented in a modern and beautiful manner.
There's a thick mushroom sauce with circles of truffle stuffed chicken, whole mushrooms, a smokey mushroom crisp, popcorn and sweet corn. Delicious! The chicken is incredibly juicy and the truffle inside sings with pride as you bite down. The different use of mushrooms highlights the earthy taste of this ingredient and the corn brings you much needed sweetness. I love the addition of the popcorn too which makes the dish playful but also offers a new texture in to each bite.
Once our savoury meals are complete for the night, we're presented with a menu that has the optional supplementary courses (cheese board for $15 and/or coffee, tea and petit fours for $12) and the desserts too. We both know we really want dessert so we place our orders and relax back, completely sated with the meal thus far.
Soon enough our palate cleanser comes out which is a bed of compressed green apple and a scoop of the most luscious berry sorbet. It's so soft and as light as air; the apple cold and flavoursome. I would actually happily eat this as a dessert at any restaurant so needless to say I am extremely pleased that is just the pre-dessert course.
Jeremy's dessert is the Chocolate Garden. We're both floored by how amazing it looks - an adorable terracotta pot with what actually looks like soil inside. But looks are deceiving because while it looks like something you would find in your background, inside is a combination of valrhona chocolate mousse, salted peanut, dacquoise and caramel.
The soil is crunchy chocolate and there's little "rocks" throughout which are the peanuts. The mousse is light and cold and is the exact opposite texture to the chocolate soil. It makes savouring the incredible taste even more exciting. It's right up his alley and he even eats the edible flower and crystalised rose petal on top.
My dessert, The Playground, is set down before me in a cute little jar. Our waitress then proceeds to introduce it with a perfume bottle that lets off the aroma of sweet bubblegum. I have to admit, I'm utterly delighted by the playfulness of it and the scent is so girly and delicious. I can't wait to dive in!
Inside the jar is an utterly silky vanilla pannacotta topped with a thin layer of strawberry jelly. On top are crisp little meringue puffs and what I can only guess is dehydrated rhubarb bites. When you chomp down on the little rice bubble looking bits, your mouth is filled with a fantastically sour powder. But I'm not done! On top of that is a rhubarb sorbet, pop rocks, crystalised rose petals, strawberry slices and rose flavoured pashmak, which is a type of fairyfloss.
There's so much going on with this dish but it is not convoluted in the slightest. It is so fun, so perfectly complimented by the variety included. The pannacotta alone is worth coming for (I hear it's on the breakfast menu so I will be back here soon!) but then so is every other element inside. They work in utter harmony and I'm pleased as punch as I hear the satisfying sizzle of the pop rocks going to town in my mouth. This is the kind of dessert everyone should have at least once in their life!
I have to say, I so enjoyed our night at No 4 Blake Street. While I didn't walk away completely stuffed, I walked away more than satisfied - in fact I was really impressed. This was only my second degustation and I now realise this is definitely my favourite way to eat. It was a great night out and at a lower cost than your standard degustation tends to attract. And yet despite this, there was definitely no compromise in the slightest on the taste.