My grandparents used to live in Glen Forrest, so the family frequently visited the hills. It’s a lovely part of Perth, abundant gum trees and a beautiful view across the scarp to the city skyline on the horizon. With my nana now living in Noranda I can’t say I visit the hills all that often, but an opportunity presented recently to visit Kalamunda for dinner. I say it presented when in reality it was that a girl at work reminded me about a place I’d heard of a while ago and had been keen to visit so I arranged a dinner with some friends to try out their $45pp banquet menu and just like that we were booked in to The Cavern. The allure of The Cavern for me was the fellow in the kitchen, John Mead. He had previously had a restaurant called Cream in East Perth, which I had visited and enjoyed many moons ago. Like a lot of moons. And now he was in the hills with his wife Maria offering what on paper looked like a totally tasty banquet style dinner. I couldn’t wait! The menu was described as ‘world tapas’ and as you gave the different dishes a read you could see why, with many countries signature dishes or ingredients showcased.
- Chef’s Marinated Olives, Spanish Almonds and Rustic Baguette
- Truffle Scented French Fries, Grana Parmesan
- Crispy Prawn Dumplings, Chilli Lime Aioli
- Double Crumbed French Brie, Roast Pear & Rocket Salad
- Chinese 5 Spice Chicken San Choy Bow
- Hand Made Potato & Ricotta Gnocchi, Tomato Sugo & Three Cheese Sauce
- DIY Tacos of Tex Mex Slow Cooked Pork, Chilli Pineapple Salsa
- Apple Crumble Tart, Brown Sugar Custard & Ice Cream
The wine list was very reasonable and I was put in charge of choosing a wine which was a little bit of fun and meant that when I saw a red from a Montepulciano that there was no other one we could have, because I had fallen hard for Italian red on our recent European adventure. The Podere was a lovely drop and very easy drinking….. But I could argue I find most wine to be.
As soon as our group of six were assembled (with a table right in front of the fire which on such a wintery night was incredibly snug) and we locked in the banquet menu, the food started to arrive in a flurry.
Up first were dishes of mixed olive seasoned with rosemary and some warm, spiced almonds. The almonds were addictive and it was a once you started it was difficult to stop situation. Some freshly sliced baguette with garlic butter and a dish of balsamic vinegar was then delivered and good bread is a real crowd pleaser and this crowd was pleased.
Soon to follow were some fries, but these weren’t any run of the mill fries. They were delightfully fancy shmancy with a drizzle of intoxicating truffle oil and a generous dusting of parmesan. They were grown-up fries and presented elegantly in their paper cones and I couldn’t get enough!
Up next were the crispy prawn dumplings. Portion wise they were keeping things manageable, because a banquet menu can be a marathon and not a sprint and you want to make it to dessert, so it was good in a sense that we only got one dumpling each. In another sense they were delicious, full of plump prawn pieces and loved the punchy chilli aioli, and I could have eaten a dozen, but i reminded myself there were plenty of dishes still to come.
Next up was a salad with the star attraction being the very generous wedge of double crumbed Brie. Ahh the insanely indulgent wonder of fried cheese. It was so good and I was so grateful we were splitting it because while willing I don’t think I would have been able to tackle any other courses if I took on the Brie solo. The accompanying salad was welcome and refreshing.
The Chicken San Choy Bow was wonderfully fresh and light after the cheese course. Lettuce leaves can make such perfect little cups and the chicken had been well spiced with the five spice mix. They really do take you on a tour around the world with this banquet menu and I was loving the diversity!
We headed to Italy next with gnocchi. I love gnocchi, so much, might be on my favourite foods list so I was pleased to see it included, but it was staging a late run so there were some concerns among diners about fitting it in. We were all slightly slowing down on the I’m still totally starving front. But when that gnocchi arrived there was definitely no way, no how that I wasn’t going to eat it. They were literally little pillows. So soft and so delicious and bathed in a flavourful tomato sugo, before parmesan was generously sprinkled on top and basil oil was artistically drizzled around the plate. It was a delight and potentially helped to move gnocchi further up my favourite foods list.
Our final savoury dish took us to Mexico with some pulled pork soft tacos. I loved that they were served with a pineapple salsa. It’s how I like to have them at home too. The combination of the spicy shredded meat and the sweet fruit is magic, but I’ll admit it was a battle to finish mine because they have been so generous with the preceding courses.
Thankfully there was a brief interlude before dessert and time for our stomach to prepare themselves for something sweet. The warm apple crumble with creamy vanilla ice cream was just the ticket on this winter evening. Thankfully no need for sharing on this front and we each had our own plate, because me and sharing dessert is a foreign concept.
What an adventure of a meal that had been, we’d literally been around the world! The dishes had all been really delicious and I couldn’t fault the value either, because no one was going to be leaving hungry. Totally worth the slightly longer drive, it is a really lovely spot and had worked perfectly for our group, excellent place for a good meal and a good night out with friends.