March is ‘Eat Drink Perth’ month in Perth. A wonderful 31 days of special events at a variety of restaurants and bars, along with some big family events like the Twilight Hawkers Market, Perth Home Grown and Yum Cha in the Park. It’s brilliant and provides a great excuse to try out some of the fabulous venues popping up in the Perth CBD.
Now the event that caught my eye was the Progressive Dinner in Middle Perth – An old fashioned progressive dinner featuring the early pioneers of Perth’s bustling small bar and dining scene – Andaluz, Helvetica, The Greenhouse and the new kid on the block – Lalla Rookh. With all the venues within a short stroll of each other, the dinner will showcase each venue’s unique offering. All meals are matched with a glass of wine or a cocktail.
Initially this event was scheduled for the first and last Tuesday in March, however the popularity of it saw two other dates emerge and thankfully they still had two spare seats when I called to book in for the 12th. Couldn’t wait!
I arrived to the first venue, Andaluz ahead of GG and was shown to our assigned table of two and despite my earliness was brought a glass of sangria to sip on while the rest of the group arrived.
Arriving early gave me a chance to have a brief chat with the venue’s owner, Ryan, a lovely fellow. Soon enough GG arrived and so did another pair who I knew was coming, Lady T and Lady A, and thankfully it was no issue to move us to a table of 4 so that was nice, given we had made separate bookings.
The sangria was fruity and refreshing and hit the spot quite nicely after a long day in the office :) We were having our entrée at Andaluz and this started with an empanada each. Braised pork with jamon along with some chipotle aioli. They were delicious! The pastry wasn’t too thick and was nice and crispy and the filling, my gosh the filling. So lovely! The pork had been slow cooked and was perfectly pulled. Suspected I could have knocked off a few more of those tasty morsels but I knew this was only the start of the dining adventure and further delights were in store.
Speaking of delights I had spied on the walk in a massive pan of paella being prepared by Chef Scott Alfonso. I had seen on twitter in recent weeks that Andaluz had been offering paella on Tuesday evenings and I was grateful for the opportunity to sample it.
Chef Scott I found out after a chat, had been at this venue for around a year and a half and hails from New York. Super friendly and as I found out not long after, makes a mean paella!
Well presented in little glasses we were each brought around a serve, which included a big prawn and mussel and some red hot lemon. So we squeezed on the citrusy goodness quick fast and got stuck in. I don’t normally consider myself a mussel fan, but I gave this one a go and gotta say, best one I’ve ever had. The added bonus with the prawn was that they had been prepared for easy eating and while the head was attached it was more for presentation because it easily came off and was quite a neat affair. Really tasty paella too! Well seasoned and the zesty squirt of lemon was a nice addition.
I felt our table of discarded seafood shells spoke volumes about how much we all enjoyed it.
Just before Ryan was set to walk us to our next venue we were given brown paper bags and told to hold onto them as each venue would be adding a treat for us. Andaluz’s present was some chocolate caramels. Yum!!
Quite lovely that all these venues were all so close together and soon enough we had arrived at Lalla Rookh and Patrick showed us to our seats.
There were three long tables set up for our group of 30 eager diners. Our table only wound up with 8 people on it. So maybe there were only 28 of us? I digress. So at Lalla Rookh we were going to have mains. We started with some lovely fresh bread that was sliced at the ready on the table, but you could see folks mouths watering as the menu was outlined to us.
Slow roasted goat, ricotta gnocchi and rosemary carrots, along with a seasonal salad. They had my attention with goat and I just love gnocchi. An Italian red was the drop of choice for this course and by the time our glasses were filled the food was arriving.
Generous plates were presented and shared around our table. I liked the shared style of dining that they had for this course.
There were pleased mmmm’s around the table as people tried the goat. It. Was. Amazing!! It was cooked to perfection and just melted in your mouth. The gnocchi was pillow soft and so flavoursome having soaked up some of the tasty juices from the goat. And as far as the carrots go, they were pretty tops. Wonderful rosemary flavour infused through them, with the right amount of crunch. Thoroughly enjoyed this meal and it was nice to have the refreshing salad to finish on. I particularly liked the slices of plum in the salad, added a nice sweet element. This was actually my second visit to Lalla Rookh within a week and I am a big fan of their food. Happy to enjoy some La Cucina Westraliana any day of the week :)
Our gift at Lalla Rookh was a bottle of their house red – spoilt much!! And our group of merry men and women followed Patrick up the hill and across the road to Greenhouse. We were then taken to the bar upstairs, where I had never actually been.
It’s really lovely, surrounded by signature Greenhouse greenery and a mismatched collection of crates set up as tables and chairs. Their look is all very recycled chic as they aim to be as sustainable a restaurant as possible.
It was time for dessert at Greenhouse and this came along with a carefully created and adorably presented cocktail.
Served in a terracotta pot, much like the zillions that adorn the walls of Greenhouse, it did look very precious. It was a creative blend of WA’s own Westwinds Gin, which had been infused with rosemary for 36 hours, then mixed with pineapple juice, raspberry coulis, lemon juice and according to the barman, a dash of love :) I’m not sure if it was the Italian accent, but I totally believed him :)
It was very easy drinking – a wonderful tropical concoction. When a watering can came around offering a top up I was not a hard sell to say yes.
Now along with this beautiful beverage came dessert. Again, crockery was of the terracotta persuasion and presented was this lavender, plum and sesame wonder. Agar agar had been used to make sort of a gel like plum flavoured tube and it was full of a creamy lavender mix. It was very tasty and the addition of the sesame snap was a nice textural crunch to the dish.
Looking around the group you could tell everyone was having a ball. They’d put together such a nice night.
And we weren’t done yet! After being gifted with little candles from Greenhouse, we were off. Final stop was close to where we had started, down Howard Lane to Helvetica. You can tell when you are getting close by the large ornate metal chandeliers that decorate the laneway.
It is a very cosy venue, with soft lighting. We were greeted by David who explained that at Helvetica we would partake in a nightcap.
Given Helvetica is touted as a whisky bar there was definitely a whisky available if folks were partial or for those with a sweeter tooth there was a Spanish Sherry, Pedro Xinemex. I quite enjoy the occasional tipple of PX so I ordered a glass of that.
As we were perched they also set out some dishes of Lindt dark mint chocolate. It was a perfect way to end the evening. The indulgent and lingering richness of the PX and a bite of the decadently rich chocolate. Rich all round and just delightful.
It was just after 9.30 at this point and given it was a school night, this night owl decided the time was right to head home. Thanking our final hosts for their hospitality we were each presented with a voucher for a drink on our next visit to Helvetica. What magical little gift bags they were!
Many thanks to the four venues for creating such a memorable event. The food had been amazing, lovely drinks and every place had been so welcoming. It was a seriously well put together evening. So much fun, I had such a ball!
Yay for Eat Drink Perth :)