Ahhhh a Friday lunch – felt like it had been a lifetime since I’d had one of these lined up. And sure, perhaps only the Friday before I’d spend 75% of my work day at the WACA watching the sensational first day of the Perth test between the Aussies and India, but still, a lunch always makes me smile. This particular one had been postponed a few times, but the location had been set for The Gala Restaurant. Not too far from my new office and most generously, my lunch companions had picked me up in the taxi on the way through. Nice fellas.
I’d not been to Gala before but I had a solid reputation so I was keen to give it a go. I say solid reputation but I had read a review by a fellow food blogger who I follow, and she hadn’t been particularly impressed with her visit so I did have some hesitation after reading this. But I just noted what she had and decided to have something different :)
We were the first to arrive at the restaurant. I was grateful to get inside, since it was a very warm, summery day.
Quite a large restaurant really and fairly formal in decor. There were plenty of tables, all well set, I was just a little surprised that no one else was there, since it was already 1pm.
We were shown to our table, by our friendly waiter and each opted for a cleansing ale – Little Creatures Pale Ale to be more specific, to start proceedings, which we enjoyed while we considered the menu.
It wasn’t hugely extensive, but it had some interesting options available for entrees and mains, plus a few specials of the day that did sound tempting. I decided I would go with the Carpaccio & Tartar of Prime Beef with white anchovy, mustard cress and beef tea dressing ($27.50) for my entrée, while around the table, Mr D went for the Tiger Prawns and Pork Belly with Granny Smith Apple Cloud – tiger prawns filled with shredded honey glazed pork belly, spicy plum sauce ($29.50) and Mr G for the Pan-fried Scallops and Potato Gnocchi in a cepe mushroom & vegetable fondue ($29.50)
Given the notable absence of other guests our first courses were bought out fairly swiftly, as was the bottle of white we’d ordered to go along with it – a Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc I believe – wonderfully crispy, perfect for the weather, the name of the winery escapes me…. Presentation wise – it was well plated and I was grateful to see it appeared to just be a solitary anchovy on my dish. It had been the one item that I wasn’t overly excited about being included, but decided to tough it out. I ate the anchovy first and it confirmed that I am not a fan of this fishy, fishy fish. Moving on to the Carpaccio though, it was delicious! Wafer thin, melt in your mouth beef and the tea dressing on it was light and well matched. I was similarly pleased with the tartar, in combination with the mustard cress it worked a treat. So I was fairly happy with my first course and around the table everyone seemed pretty happy.
Again we were split on what to have for mains, though the lads both opted for the Prime Beef Fillet slowly cooked in Woronow Butter with dauphine potato, sour cream, beetroot and shallot sauce ($44.50). Despite having told myself that after 2011 was year of the duck dishes that I should try something else, I couldn’t go past the Duck Breast with Pepper Sauce - duck confit pastille, duck foie gras, cherries and chocolate ganache ($44.50). Along with that we ordered a Mixed Garden Lettuces with the dressing of your choice French Dressing or Balsamic Vinaigrette ($10.00) to share.
We were grateful while we waited for our mains that another table arrived. Only 2 people, but at least we didn’t feel as though we were now dominating all the attention of the waiter. It kind of made me feel sad that there were so few people at the restaurant. Perhaps not everyone lunches in Applecross on a Friday, but just made me wonder how a restaurant would last with such limited patronage. Granted it could be a completely different story at night time, but it really took away from the atmosphere of the place that it was so deserted on our visit.
My duck arrived and I was definitely curious as to how the chocolate and duck would marry up. Perfectly pink, the duck was cooked to perfection and the rich sweetness of the ganache actually worked really well. I really couldn’t recall eating the fois gras, but I thought it was a really enjoyable, and quite filling meal.
I barely had room for any salad, but given the fellas weren’t digging in to it, I thought I should at least have a token effort. The mix of garden lettuces they had on offer proved quite bitter, which I didn’t really enjoy. So I didn’t put much of a dent in it unfortunately.
Here’s a photo of the guy’s steak….. I’m told they were very tasty, but presentation wise, their plates looked a little bit busy I thought.
For once I had thought to myself, I am feeling quite comfortable now, no need for dessert. But the boys thought that I should do my part, since there were so few lunch guests that day and partake in sweets. Well if I must, I thought. I wanted something light though, so went for the “Berry Delight” with strawberry ice cream, raspberry-rhubarb mochi, blueberry & honeycomb trifle. The blueberries were told had been recently picked fresh from the Swan Valley. Nice to keep things local. At this point I was found myself pondering, what type of food is this restaurant’s specialty? I knew the owners/chefs were European, but this seemed like almost an Asian inspired dessert, with the mochi.
It really was sensational though. An indulgent combination of flavours, with my favourites being the aforementioned blueberries and the sugary sweet honeycomb. It was well presented and well….. delicious!
While good food and nice wine can make a lunch, more so do the company. We might have been basically by ourselves in the restaurant, but I still had such a lovely time and definitely can’t say we weren’t looked after service wise. I think if I was to go back I”d probably give it a go at night, so that hopefully the crowd and the ambiance were a little more lively.