I turned 30 this year on a Monday and to commemorate the milestone I went out to lovely dinners on the Fridays that bookended the date. Quite indulgent, however, one only turns the big 3-0 once
So the Friday prior we headed to Jackson’s, which was lovely, a completely polished dining experience. Then the Friday after we were booked in to try out the new venture by Dear Friends duo, Kiren and Kelli Mainwaring, called Co-op Dining. Located in East Perth, where Cream used to be, it’s a cosy little restaurant, almost a hidden gem along Regal Place. For those that can recall Cream, it tended towards quite a dark decor, very dim lighting and plush red shagpile on the walls….. perhaps the look wasn’t for everyone. But the fit out of Co-op Dining is a vast improvement in my opinion. A lot more light and modern. On our visit we were very spoilt and sat in one of the two booths, along the back wall. Complete with plenty of decorative pillows it was a comfortable place to be sitting, plus it gave us the chance to watch proceedings in the rest of the restaurant.
Co-op Dining had only opened the Friday before, a total newbie and I had not seen the menu, which for me was something different as I have a habit of studying them and knowing exactly what I want. The mystery of this menu did make things interesting. Essentially though, at Co-op Dining they offer a 5 or a 10 course degustation, which you have the option of matching with wines. Feeling flashy, we opted for the 10 course with wines so as to fully experience what was on offer.
We started proceedings with a celebratory glass of Chandon – something so special about bubbles!
Our first taste of the place was when the bread rolls were presented. Homemade bread with cultured jersey butter. There was a choice of two and I couldn’t go past the wild garlic roll, sounded very tasty! Especially when paired with some of the in house churned butter, topped with mushroom dust. The intensity of the mushroom flavour in that light smattering of dust was amazing! And after just the bread and butter, I suspected we were in for a great night of culinary creativity
Rainbow Trout On salt block. The first official course was delicate pieces of seared ocean trout, carefully positioned along what I believe, was a block of salt. Very cool presentation and the fish was so wonderfully fresh that we both really enjoyed it. Plus doesn’t radish just present so well? It’s such a pretty vegie, I’ll have to try and strategically position it in a few dishes I make at home to jazz them up
Continuing on with seafood, next came a cuttlefish dish. WA Coast Grapefruit, cuttlefish ink and cracker with 2012 Bella Ridge Demi Sec, Swan Valley, WA. I really can’t recall ever eating cuttlefish, but I quite liked it. It doesn’t have a strong seafood flavour and when teamed with the zesty grapefruit and the textural crunch from the squid crisps and greens, it was a winning combination.
Bullsbrook, Wild Lupin Tofu, pork skin, Radicchio and wild garlic with 2010 Mac Forbes Gruner Veltiner, Carnuntum, Austria. Now I’ve never really been one to sing the praises of tofu, but in the next dish the tofu really was a star addition. Silky smooth, it matched well with the flavoursome mushrooms and the crunch from the pork crackling. Wild garlic also made another appearance in the menu, with a wild garlic cream. My favourite part of this dish though was the olive oil caviar. I wondered how in the world you made them, because they were seriously cool! An intense hit of olive oil flavour as they popped in your mouth. Something different and it really enhanced the wow factor of the dish.
The importance of quality ingredients done well was highlighted in the next dish. Muchea, Raw vegetables, fried onion and Kale, beetroot dip and ajo blanco with 2010 Ipso Facto Chenin, Margaret River, WA. A colourful collection of fresh seasonal vegetables with a tasty dipping sauce. White asparagus is one of my favourites so was quite a treat to have it included amongst the crudites. And overall it was quite a different dish – really letting the ingredients do the talking and enhancing the flavour further was the nest of fried onion crisps that the vegies were on. It was really a salute to the amazing produce that Western Australia
I’m a pasta fan from way back so was particularly excited when the pork course arrived and there were delicate sheets of pasta draped on top. Saddleback Suckling Pig, Wattle seed lasagne, eucalyptus and tomato concasse with 2011 Rimauresq Petit Rose` Classic Provence Cru Vineyards, France. It looked super pretty with the light sprinkling of tomato and wattle seed salsa and the dramatic drizzling of olive oil. The pasta just melted in your mouth and the pork hidden beneath was cooked to perfection. As we moved our way into the meat course, we had high expectations for the dishes remaining after trying this one.
While still containing some meat, the next course was more of a salad of sorts. Cured in house, Sopresso green pea jersey cheese with 2011 Farr Rising “Geelong” Pinot Noir, Geelong, Vic. A mix of broad beans, clover and goats cheese, it was quite refreshing to take pause at this point and enjoy the softness of the cheese with the fresh ingredients before moving onto the lamb and beef. Plus I quite liked the bowl. Something impressive about a big silver bowl being brought to your table.
Onto meatier endeavors next with the Spring lamb, Lavender honeycomb with 2009 Myattsfield Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier, Bickley Valley, WA. You can really see the careful attention to detail in this course, the lamb was cooked to perfection and there was an intensity of flavours, particularly from the sweet honey. It was a delicious course and my meat loving man was well pleased.
It was all very indulgent and plentiful on the protein front as our attention switched from sheep to team beef. Dexter biodynamic beef, dark ale cocoa, buttermilk and barley with Amager Bryghus – Sinner Series, Wrath – Denmark. I really loved this course – the textural element from the barley, so well matched with the richness of the cocoa sauce. The beef brisket just melted in your mouth…. amazing deliciousness.
Our pre-dessert was so perfectly refreshing – Red Capsicum Ice Cream, cucumber and mint. Really amazing the sweetness that came from the red capsicum. It was a dainty serve in another from their silver bowl collection. And with the palate suitable cleansed and switched on for sweetness, I was ready for dessert
And here it was and so lovely to have such a thoughtful message scrawled on the plate. Only turning 30 once, nice to really celebrate it in style :) And the final course of our culinary experience at Co-op Dining was Hay smoked Jersey milk, Handpicked mulberries with 2011 La Spinetta “Bricco” Quagilia” Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy. It was so light, the delicate pannacotta teamed with sweet fruitiness of the mulberries. It was a lovely finale.
Service is attentive and friendly and with Kelli floating around to explain the dishes and wines as they arrive you are kept well informed of where all the beautiful ingredients have been found. It’s a very unique experience and you can really feel how important sourcing the best local ingredients is to the Mainwarings. It showcases how lucky we are in the West and the dizzying array of incredible ingredients that are available.
My thanks to them for such a special evening. Early days, but you know Co-op is going to prove as popular as Dear Friends in no time flat. Perfect for a special occasion. Can’t wait to relive the magic again soon