Sneak a peak down the small Hay Street laneway and you'll come across a bar with a bustling indoor area and roaring courtyard. There's even an upstairs second-level bar that lets you look out at the city.
I've been wanting to try this place for some time since it opened, but with the neverending selection of afterwork venues for drinks in the city available, I just haven't found time. But thankfully I was due a catch up with my friends Jay and Linda, and this time it was my choice of venue.
I am dying for a wine, so I settle on a glass of the 2012 Side Saddle, which is a Margaret River blended white wine ($9 glass, $35 bottle). It surprises me how reasonably priced the wine is and I'm rapt in the zingy fruity taste that fills my mouth. This is definitely a wine that goes down a little too easily!
I choose the Lemon Battered Whole Whitebait with Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise ($13). As I place the order, we're warned that it is whole fish to include the eyes and tail - but that doesn't phase either of us, we both love whitebait and eat anything!
The whitebait is delicious. Absolutely moorish, with crunchy flavoursome fish and that little hint of lemony goodness. The paprika mayonnaise is creamy and smokey, working well each crisp bite. I love how much just squeezing some extra lemon juice over the top enhances the whole dish and brings it to a new dimension.
When Jay arrives we get him sorted with a long mac and start perusing the menu for our mains while chatting with a little too much animation. When the three of us get together, we tend not to shut up!
It's so fatty which expected but since I usually have oxtail in pies or soups, I guess I wasn't quite prepared for the mouthful of lardy goodness it offered. Definitely an acquired taste that you couldn't have too much of or you'd start to feel sick!
About 5 minutes passes after that and another waitress comes by our table asking if the gnocchi without olives is totally without olives or just with less olives. At this point I have to admit I'm a little flabbergasted by the difficulty of removing a single ingredient. I can see Linda in shock next to me, and Jay unable to tell if it's actually happening! But after I bring myself together I answer again, one gnocchi with no olives, the other with olives.
Thankfully despite the difficulty in ordering and delivery, the flavours here are enough to make me forget all about that. The gnocchi is pan fried and oh so light and fluffy. Buttery potato gems that sit amongst sweet red onion slices and mushrooms of different sizes and textures. I love persian feta, and it adds so much to the dish, sweet creaminess and decadence. The crunchy fried onions on top add some great texture and little bursts of flavour..
It comes out beautifully presented; a long gold foil strip with chocolate cookie shards scattered on top. Such a gorgeous deconstructed dish, with strawberry sorbet, dark chocolate mousse topped with sea salt flakes, little toasted marshmallow drops and strawberry segments.
At the end of our meal at The Stables Bar, we're full and more or less in a happy frame of mind. This place has all the makings of somewhere great, but the service leaves something to be desired. It's such a shame because the food we ate was really delicious, but was it enough for us to come back? Maybe - I guess we'll see!