When you think of Perth in its power days of the nineties, with Alan Bond towers and shoulder pads (naturally they hit us after the eighties), C Restaurant is very much on the list of 'glamorous' dining venues. As a child I remember hearing all about this revolving restaurant in the sky, but as time passed and I began an adult with an intense food obsession, C seemed in my mind a thing of the past, not a place that appealed to my personal taste.
I recently finally tried this once upon a time powerhouse for a work lunch. When I'd told my team I was going they laughed and asked if I wanted to wear my pants suit and perm... but nonetheless I was interested to see what the fuss was all about.
C Restaurant is on St Georges Terrace, in Martins Place. It's a stomach twisting elevator ride up to the top, and as you might guess from the name, the restaurant is in the shape of a C. It's also our city's only revolving restaurant, which allows you to look over the river, Perth and Northbridge. You basically end up doing an entire circle during a dining session - or at least we got to.
Excuse the cheeky iPhone snaps, I hadn't intended to take any photos but manage to do so without being completely unprofessional.
We started off our dining experience with menus to review and freshly baked bread ($7 per serve of 3 pieces) that came with creamed salted butter and Chittering Valley extra virgin olive oil. It's a nice start while we muse over whether we should order the one course option ($35 per person), two courses ($49) or three courses ($63). We end up going for the whole hog, which means we also grab a beautiful bottle of white to accompany our food.
The bread provided is nice and crusty, the butter rich and creamy. I honestly love butter, and while olive oil and balsamic is another favourite, if the butter provided is amazing I usually find myself dedicating too much of the valuable bread real estate to it. This time was no different and I was happy indulging in a mid-week carb fix.
Before long we place our orders and soon enough our entrees come out to the table. There's some orders of gnocchi, and another of the venison and mushroom ravioli. Myself and another colleague decide on the Gin Gin Beef Fillet Carpaccio.
It comes out precisely laid out on the plate (it almost looked like a river of sauce when it first arrived), served with honey & mustard aioli. There's a topping of roasted hazelnut crumb and a fennel and rocket salad with wonton crisps. All up it looks like a beautiful entree dish.
Once I start eating, I have to admit I was waiting for that wow factor to punch me in the face and unfortunately it never arrived. While the beef itself is a beautiful meat, it lacked seasoning and flavour intensity. Normally carpaccio is tender but somehow rich, and while this one met the first category, the second was a little lacking.
I did like the aioli, though I found it a bit of a strange sauce to have with this. The salad on top was really enjoyable, especially with the aioli - the rocket peppery and the fennel almost sweet. The wonton crisps look like little crackers and offer a nice textural crunch. I was a bit confused by the role of the hazelnuts, which is something I enjoy in savoury dishes, but felt it wasn't necessary in this one. It was a little dry due to the texture of it and in some bites could overpower the palate.
I love edible flowers and was pleased to note the presence of one in the salad, they're so pretty! But I do question the use of large edible flowers as this can be off putting to some diners as to whether it's a decoration or ingredient. In this case it didn't bother me too much because the dish did look really vibrant and clean.
Our plates were cleared within minutes of the last entree utensil being laid down to rest. The service at C Restaurant is quite impressive, with water constantly topped up and staff checking on our satisfaction levels. You can tell they must service a great number of business people as they had that understanding of timing and not drawing the lunch out mid-week too long.
When it came to mains, I decided on the "C" Famous Homemade Potato Gnocchi for my dish. Served with a napolitana sauce, there's spinach and gorgonzola cream sauce, roasted tomatoes and a parmesan cheese crust.
I've heard a great deal about this dish so I was looking forward to trying it, though I did have a mild wave of worry in the back of my mind because I am a gnocchi addict. And I have had some pretty spectacular ones in the past years, which means the benchmark is pretty high.
The gnocchi at C Restaurant was not the best I've ever had sadly. But all up it wasn't too bad at all, I could see some people really loving this dish.
The gnocchi themselves were large and pillowy, a little too floury for my liking but soft and perfectly cooked. It's nice to see a place not succumbing to the standard pan fried gnocchi (though I do love this) and sticking to a more original recipe. The sauce for this dish is rich - bursts of tomato spliced with that decadent gorgonzola. It's a good thing that the serving size isn't too big for this as I think it would start to get a little overpowering if you had too much.
The best part of this is the spinach threaded throughout and the parmesan crust. When you got a bite of the parmesan it's crunchy and cheesy, golden and salty. It's a nice cut through from the creaminess of the dish and sparkles in your mouth. Those bites were pretty damn good.
The others order a couple servings each of the Slow Cooked 300g Pitch Black Angus Beef Rump Steak (an extra $10 per person) and the Crispy Skin Barramundi. I loved the sound of the latter which said on the menu it was served with a marrow claw, but ended up being a slightly different dish. I hate when that happens as it's usually something in the details that catches my eye rather than the protein itself, but those that ordered it didn't seem to mind too much.
When it comes to dessert time, there's only three options on the menu to choose from. There's a Chocolate Ganache which two of the ladies choose (and subsequently have a complete sugar coma from the rich and bitter ganache), an Apple Fondant and a Lychee Mousse. I muse between the latter two, before asking the waiter for his recommendation.
He tells me quickly and confidently that the Lychee Mousse is very nice. Sold!
It comes served with fresh seasonal berries and sorbet so to me it sounds quite nice and light - something I definitely need since I'd eaten so much more than I would normally for lunch during the week.
The presentation of the dessert is nice and simple. The lychee mousse does not look at all like I'd expected, with the mousse piped into a line and topped with a crisp topper and a lychee flavoured meringue cloud.
It's a nice dessert, though once you try to cut into the mousse it becomes a mess since there's a distinct difference in the texture of the mousse verses the meringue. The meringue is quite hard and takes a couple tries to split. The flavouring is mild, though I love that berry sorbet which is sweet, slightly tart and has the right amount of zing.
Sorbet makes me happy!
The others that have ordered this dish enjoy it too, but I'm disappointed to see those that ordered the Chocolate Ganache have given up halfway due to it's decadence (and they're self proclaimed chocolate lovers).
All up C Restaurant was an enjoyable enough experience. I think their lunchtime menu is a good price considering it's once upon a time status, though the dishes do need a bit of refinement in my own personal opinion. But when you factor in that incredible and clear view (especially wonderful on this particular sunny day), you can see why people still continue to come here after all these years. It's like being in a whole other place and almost feels like you're a tourist experiencing Perth for the first time looking out at your home city.