It was catch up time with my friend Miss E last week and we were keen to head along to the newly refurbished Llama Bar. I’ll put in the disclaimer here that part of the reason I was keen to check it out was that the lovely Miss E’s other half was involved with the makeover process for the Llama Bar. And it was going to be great to get the chance to say hello to him while we were there, but the food is what it is so my friendship with these folks doesn’t sway my opinions. Just putting that out there
So we went last Thursday, not a huge crowd when we arrived but it definitely gave me an opportunity to really take in the rather significant changes that they had made. Most apparent was how open the place seemed now. They have these big beautiful sort of retractable windows so that when the weather permits it is completely open to the street. The entrance too is a lot more inviting than previous, when you had to snake your way through bamboo fencing to find your way in. Then the decor, it’s all quite plush, the sweeping yellow curtains draping the walls, the ornate mirror behind the bar and some very fancy lighting fixtures. Visually it was all very nice and the wooden tables and chairs in the dining area felt a little bit European sidewalk, which seemed to match in well with the new look of the place.
We both ordered a glass of Bellarmine Riesling, a delightfully crisp drop from the Great Southern. Miss E had eaten here once before (a good effort since it had only been open for a fortnight) so could provide some guidance as to what we had to have, but we also tried a few dishes new to us both. As is the case with a few other establishments in Perth these days, the shared plate concept has been adopted at Llama. I’m all for it. Gives you the opportunity to sample a wider range of interesting flavours. Between the two of us we ordered 4 dishes, which proved to be plenty.
We started with the Raw tuna, coconut labne, chilli, lime and seaweed ($18). An interesting plate was presented to us, full of colour and sort of an organised scatter of ingredients. I just couldn’t wait to bite into that tuna! Looked like it would just melt in your mouth! And looks weren’t deceiving. Whoever their seafood supplier is they are doing a great job. There’s a subtle sweetness to this dish that comes through from the coconut labne, but the balance of all the flavours together was really quite delicate and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Moving on to something equally delicious, but definitely on the heavier side we tried the Cauliflower and Manchego Croquettes ($12). I think I had envisaged that the croquettes would be a combination of cauliflower puree with manchego cheese…… however as far as I could tell the croquettes themselves were all cheese, balanced on cauliflower crumbles. Yes there’s something indulgently wonderful about deep fried cheese, but you couldn’t eat too many of these….. as they are very, very rich!
Up next was a Homemade duck chorizo, green olives, tomatoes ($17). I’m not sure what differentiates a sausage from chorizo, but for me this kind of seemed more like a sausage. Regardless though it was very tasty and is a recipe that was devised in house I was told. What I also liked about this dish was the sweetness of the tomatoes and the beautiful flavour from the green olives. How good are those big green olives! They seem to be sneaking into so many bowls of olives you get while out and about these days and I think it’s just fabulous!
Our final savoury plate was a serve of the North African lamb sliders, bacon, tomato jam ($18). In retrospect ending with these little burgers was always going to be a challenge. With our appetites already fairly sated it was a bit of a struggle to make our way through the three that were presented to us. But I did really like them. As is always the case for me, the test of any burger, regardless of size, is the patty. And this one was jammed packed with herbs and spices that made it the perfect match with the sweetness from the tomato jam. I think next time I’ve prefer to start with these so that I could do them more justice.
Now despite my recent comments that I was on the full side by this stage, rest assured that there is always room to indulge in something sweet. Miss E raved about the macaron dessert so I locked that in. Frozen macaron sandwiches, honeycomb icecream ($9). They looked so precious on the plate! Complete with edible glitter, these dainty biscuits really were pretty as a picture. Oh and they just tasted divine! The honeycomb ice cream matched up well with each of the subtly different flavoured macarons. A delightful dessert!
Across the table, Miss E went for a more refreshing option with the Pineapple and mint granita, belverdere, lychee ($9). As with everything on the menu even dessert is all about the sharing so she was presented with three individual cones filled with the flavoursome icey treat. I was even lucky enough to be given one and it was a perfect way to end the meal – refreshing and still bursting with fruity flavours.
So what had I thought? Well the food was all really delicious and there were several other items on the menu that I am definitely keen to try on a return visit. And the service had been excellent, really attentive for our whole visit – I barely took a sip out of my water glass before it was refilled – it’s good to be well hydrated. The only let down for me, and this is no reflection on the company, but on the night we were there it was slightly lacking on the atmosphere side. Personally, I don’t think that turning up the dj’s music creates atmosphere, it just means people eating dinner inside need to yell across the table. So I think it will be an interesting transition for the Llama Bar to find their new balance as more of an eatery. They’ve been branded for so long now as a late night bar, but hey times change and I’m sure once the word gets out of their tasty dinner fare, they are bound to find some foodie-focused joie de vie on the back of their recent revamp.