Amani Bar & Kitchen is a small bar in Leederville and honestly if you weren’t really on the lookout for it, it would be quite easy to walk right past it. It has such a narrow little shop front, I’d guess like 5 metres across if that, but I’m a terrible judge on distances. But it is really narrow! However if you do find it and wander in, I think you’ll be pretty surprised at how far back the place goes. It’s actually quite deceptive and feels fairly spacious inside.
A stone’s throw from the heart of Leederville, Amani Bar & Kitchen is a sleek, modern hideaway with bags of style in an intimate setting. Its European-inspired interior is the perfect place to indulge your palate with gourmet dishes, inspired cocktails and a thoughtfully curated wine list.
We arrived on a Tuesday night to check out their new Spring menu. Ahhh Spring is in the air! Perhaps not always a good thing for hayfever sufferers such as myself but it’s a lovely time of year in terms of the seasonal produce that becomes available.
I had only been to Amani once before for a drink and it was GG’s debut visit. We were shown to a table towards the back of the bar, which I quite liked. It meant you could keep an eye on all the bar side action, watching people wander inside for a drink and also spy all the goings on in the kitchen.
The friendly waitress promptly delivered water to the table and after a quick look at the drinks list it was a Pinot Gris for me and a Shiraz for my handsome dining companion.
We then turned our attention to the menu.
Our menu is designed around fresh, local, seasonal produce and it will tantalise your tastebuds. Our delicious dishes change regularly and incorporate the best local ingredients available, as well as delectable imported delicate cheeses.
It is split into Something Small and Something Bigger sections and we asked helpful bar manager Sam for some guidance on how many dishes she thought we’d need. Her wise words to us were that if she was here with a girlfriend she’d go for three of the ‘Small’ options, but if she was dining with her fellow she’d go with four. So four it was! It was a bit of a tough decision narrowing down which four to have, but it was helpful that it’s quite a detailed menu in terms of what’s included with each dish. Somewhat of a contrast to the trend towards more minimalist menus that keep you guessing as to what will actually be plated. I’m generally happy with either option, mystery or detail J
We took our time to narrow down our four choices to:Haloumi Cheese: Grilled & served with crostini & a watermelon, walnut & mint salad ($17) Scallops & Duck: Seared Hokkaido scallops & cured duck breast with a lentil & wild rice salad, prosciutto crisp & orange cognac macerated strawberries ($23)(GF) Chorizo & Kransky: Grilled chorizo & cheese kransky house marinated olives & pomme frites ($18) (GF) Asparagus & Pancetta: Grilled asparagus with chunky pancetta, fried potatoes, Persian feta, wilted spinach & sherry vinaigrette ($18) (GF)
We happily sipped our glasses of wine and enjoyed the ambiance and the very choice tunes and soon enough a flurry of plates arrived at the table. First to appear was the Chorizo and Kransky. Several generous slices of each sausage had been pan fried and served up with some chunky chips and both black and green olives. When I had read cheese kransky I had visions of those cheese sausages you so often see in roadhouse bain-maries, which have never looked appetising to me, but clearly someone is eating them because they keep selling! But it turns out that a cheese kransky isn’t an overly cheesy affair and has plenty of flavour and I actually really enjoyed it. The chorizo too was delicious and both paired nicely with the rich olive flavour. And hard to go wrong with chips and these were red hot and very well salted.
We then turned our attention to the Scallops and Duck. What an entirely elegant dish! The plating looked like it would be right at home in a more fine dining establishment, with the thinly sliced duck breast and the well seared scallops, along with the drizzle of boozy strawberries and the careful placement of a few flowers. Ahh flowers, really brought in the Spring factor 🙂 Both of us thoroughly enjoyed this dish. Duck and scallop is a wonderful pairing and the cognac soaked strawberries and the lentil and wild rice salad just worked really well together. It was interesting and creative and GG later declared that this was his favourite of the night.
Next up was the Haloumi Cheese. Again it looked beautiful! The splashes of bold colour from the watermelon, the dramatic swirls of balsamic vinegar and a few more of those flowers – just so very pretty! And it’s no secret that I am a big fan of haloumi. I can’t get enough of the stuff. It is a wonderful, delicious, fantastic cheese and I was so pleased to see it feature on the Amani menu. I’d never had haloumi with watermelon before but the two go together like….. hmmm fish and chips, icecream and ice magic, milo and milk…and other classic food pairings. I really loved it. This dish was my favourite and I also liked the slight tang from the balsamic vinegar too, a good contrast with the sweet, refreshing watermelon and the creamy, salty haloumi.
It was pleasant to have some vegies to round out the savoury dishes. And vegies are always that little bit more interesting when they come served with meat 🙂 In this case, chunky fried pancetta and fried spud, had a little bit of a fancy bubble and squeak feel to it. The asparagus spears had been grilled and still had plenty of crunch. The Persian fetta that had been sprinkled on the top was decadently creamy and the whole dish was brought together with the sweet and zesty vinaigrette. Another tasty dish! Four for four!
Four dishes did prove to be the right number of dishes for us. We were both comfortable at this point and our ravenous appetites had been well and truly subdued, but I was keen to check out their dessert offerings. It is quite a brief selection, just three choices available, and somewhat surprisingly there is no chocolate dessert on offer. In keeping with the Spring focus there are more fruit inspired selections. We decided we’d share one of the desserts and a serve of cheese:Brillat Savarin (Cow’s Milk – Triple Cream, 5-6 Week Old, Creamy with Chalky Centre) – served with Crostini’s, Spiced Almonds, Pear & hazelnut compote, Murray River Organic Muscatels and Fresh Strawberries) – ($18) Mango Cheesecake: Mango, Macadamia & Coconut Cheesecake, Praline, Chocolate Soil & Raspberry Coulis ($14)
What I really enjoyed about the cheesecake, other than the fact that again it was pretty as a picture when it arrived, was that it wasn’t overly sweet. It was lovely and creamy and there was a lovely nuttiness to the macadamia and coconut base. It was quite a tropical inspired dish with all these flavours and the sweetness came more from the raspberry coulis and there was a little chocolate that made an appearance in the ‘soil’. Soil, such a popular dessert feature in recent times 🙂
We ended with the cheese plate and it was such an interesting cheese and they had really nailed the description of the taste, describing it as slightly chalky. It had a really different texture but always good to try something new and it did still have a creaminess to it. There was a fair bit going on with this cheese plate, with the almonds and the strawberries and the muscatels. We did enjoy it but we perhaps wondered if the crostini could maybe be subbed out for a fruit style bread and then perhaps you wouldn’t have needed the muscatels. We liked the strawberries but thought perhaps the tartness from some green apple slices may have worked better with the flavour of the cheese. But hey, that’s just our make your own cheese plate preference and having the current options included on their cheese plates should keep folks happy.
It had been a lovely first visit to Amani and I’d appreciated the invitation. Service had been friendly and prompt and we had both really enjoyed the food. GG continued to wax lyrical the whole drive home about how much he had enjoyed it. Price wise, ordering 4 of the smaller dishes translated to around $40 a head, which I thought was pretty reasonable and I often prefer to share four dishes for that price than to just order one larger main. It’s handy for us that it is not far from home and I suspect we’ll be calling in some time again soon to work through a few of those menu items that we didn’t get to try on this visit.
So next time you are looking for dinner in Leederville then keep Amani in mind, it’s quite the hidden gem and their Spring menu is a real winner 🙂