There are just a plethora of lovely places to eat in Perth and despite my best endeavors I’m yet to have been able to visit them all…… so when a friend passed along details of an upcoming wine dinner at a place I hadn’t been I was definitely keen to try it out! Especially because it was on a Saturday night, when so many of the lovely wine evenings tend to be held mid week. This one was a West Cape Howe dinner to be held at Tom’s Kitchen. I’d not actually heard of Tom’s Kitchen before. It’s located in Shafto Lane and given that I don’t work in town and my old neighbourhood was up in West Perth I just don’t get along to that end of town very often. But I’d been given instructions that it was right across from Durty Nelly’s and I knew where that was so GG and I set off from home, caught the train into town then wandered towards Shafto Lane. Would you believe that on this particular summer Saturday that it decided to sprinkle when we had to traverse the short distance between the train station and the restaurant! You wouldn’t read about it! It was fine though, a light drizzle at most.
I’m not sure what I had expected with Tom’s Kitchen, but I liked the layout, quite cosy inside and then tables were set up for the dinner in a separate open (but covered) area. I’ll be the first to admit that I was slightly disappointed when I saw that the tables outside were long, shared tables. I suppose I had partly hoped that it would just be a table for two for GG and I. But hey we’d done the long table before and lived to tell the tale.
As we entered we were presented (by Tom himself!) with a glass of 2011 Estate Riesling, which have a lovely crisp, newness to it. Then as we stood around trays of oysters and mussels seasoned with riesling were brought around. I wasn’t game to sample an oyster but given the mussels had a cooked tomato topping I thought I would try those out. As long as I didn’t chew the mussel it was fine. Tehehe I’m just not the biggest fan of seafood out of shells I suppose. More for others I figured!
So then we were shown our assigned table. We were seated with two other couples. And from the get go my reservations about sitting with strangers were gone. We were lucky to have been sat with some really lovely people and we all happily sat there and chatted throughout the evening.
The winemaker from West Cape Howe, Gavin Berry, gave us an interesting introduction of their wines – very down to earth character. Great to hear how him and his lovely wife (also in attendance) had gotten their beginnings in the industry :)
The first course we were given once seated was Pork belly, octopus, confit garlic puree, apple floss which came with a 2004 Great Southern Chardonnay. Mention has to go to that Chardonnay. It was just divine, oaky and buttery and just so much depth. Loved it. Visually the pork and octopus looked a little washed out – colour wise. However the combination of the flavours was really delicious. The octopus wasn’t chewy and didn’t have a strong seafood taste, so I was happy. The pork belly was cooked slightly different than others I had had before. More soft…. But it was still tasty. One comment from GG was that one of his pieces of pork belly seemed to be missing any meat! Just a layer of pork fat, so he was perhaps a little disappointed on that front. But both agreed that to start proceeding it wasn’t bad.
Up next was a newer vintage, the 2011 ‘Styx Gully’ Chardonnay served with an assiette of salmon – poached fillet, smoked salmon zucchini flower, gravlax crisps, lime and olive oil hollandaise. Most folks know that I’m a hard sell on the fish front, but I was willing to give this a go and actually found the smoked salmon quite enjoyable. I finished all of this off and then tried the paoched fillet. It was fine, but I think I was just salmon’ed out, so I gave most of mine to GG, who enjoyed it more than I ever would have. I really liked the zucchini flower, but I’m just not sure where the gravlax crisps were… maybe they decided not to include them. Maybe they were there and I didn’t realise. Hard to say. I had mainly been curious about them, because GG had gone to the effort of googling what gravlax was for us earlier in the week :)
Time then to crack open the cellar again and dig deep into the back section with a 2004 Museum Release Riesling. Ahh more aged wine. You are a delight. This came with Quail, cauliflower couscous, anchovy, green grapes. This was a really interesting course, which I did enjoy. In the picture it perhaps doesn’t look that good and it could be that maybe the lil quail pieces could have been browned just a smidge more for a better colour, but taste wise some of the quail with some of the cous cous and the sweetness of the green grape really worked a treat.
Still on savouries but time to make the switch from white to red with the 2004 ‘Book Ends’ Cabernet Sauvignon. This accompanied Lamb shank stuffed with black pudding, caramelized carrot puree, black olives and coriander. Ahh black pudding…. The idea of it is never that pleasing but I can tell you as a stuffing to lamb shank that has been slow cooked for 72 hours, it was more than a little delightful. Both GG and I thought this was probably our favourite course.
Dessert time! Always pleasing for the sweet tooths among us and particularly with a stickie in tow! 2009 Botrytis Riesling was matched with a smoked lemon tart, blood orange sorbet, raspberry coulis. I am a big fan of citrusy desserts, more so than my other half. So I happily launched into the lemon tart. Wow the hit of smokey flavour throughout was fairly intense, as was the zestiness of the lemon. The pastry itself was probably a little thicker or harder than I had hoped… had concerns about a repeat incident of what had happened on Valentines up at Darlington, when I shot a Kahlua cream tartlet across the restaurant when I tried to cut through the pastry with my fork. Ahh hilarious. Thankfully this did not happen on this occasion. But did I think the smokey flavour enhanced this dessert? For me, probably not and I love lemon but the balance of zesty and sweet was already swayed slightly more toward zesty, which didn’t quite work for me and the smokiness on top of that…. it wasn’t my favourite – but hey I do always appreciate trying something different. And I was grateful for the blood orange sorbet and raspberry coulis (complete with a few fresh raspberries – yum) as it did help to end this course on a sweeter note for me.
And finally time to cheese it up… little darling… cheese it up. Ok pretty sure that’s not how that song goes. Clearly by this point I’d had a few glasses of wine and was verging on a food coma. Our final wine was the 2009 ‘Two Steps’ Shiraz with a Gorgonzola souffle, new season figs, marsala reduction. This was a pleasant end to the meal. As far as cheese courses go it was fairly rich, as gorgonzola tends to be, but the fresh figs did help in part to balance this out.
In all it had been a really lovely evening. The wines were excellent – nice work West Cape Howe – but my only disappointment was that there were none of the older vintages available for purchase. The food had been interesting and generous in portion size and service had been attentive and friendly. But I’d have to say as good as everything else was, it really was the company that made this evening for me. Something fab about meeting nice people and sharing a mutual appreciation for all things food, made for some easy conversation and in all a great time.
And hey if you order your Eat, Drink, Perth passport (http://eatdrinkperth.showmeperth.com.au/city-passport) there’s a great deal for Tom’s Kitchen in there :)