We are a spoilt bunch in Perth with a solid line up of restaurants dotted throughout each and every suburb. Sometimes they might be in suburbs that don’t necessarily spring to mind when you think about where to head for dinner. Like Floreat perhaps, but you’d be missing out if you raced down Cambridge Street past Prego Restaurant because it is quite the local gem. It’s actually been around for a fair few years now and it has been on my endless list of places to visit, but I think it must have kept getting bumped for newbies, which was clearly an oversight. I was recently invited in for dinner with my GG and on a particularly chilly winter Thursday we swiftly walked from the car to the welcoming warmth of the restaurant.
Prego has a fairly traditional style layout and staff who make you feel at home as soon as you arrive. We were shown to a lovely table near the window and given menus to peruse. There were some really tasty sounding dishes so choosing was going to be a tricky business and that was before we heard about the specials and they were numerous! I quite liked that though because it enforced that the focus was on the freshest ingredients available and while signature dishes are always available, they change specials regularly to utilise the best seasonal products, which is excellent. Also excellent is what you read on the front page of their menu…. It really made me smile.
We put so much of ourselves into Prego.
It is more than our work, it is our home
and that is how we try to welcome you – as a guest in a home we love, that we are proud of and eager for you to love too.
We want you to feel special when you are here.
We want you to expect that every last details is taken care of so that you feel welcome, relaxed,
at ease and most of all happy,
because that is really what it is all about.
We don’t want to impress you…
We want to cook for you and make you Happy!
The helpful staff assisted us with choosing dishes which best represented Pregos’ menu and we ended up with a mix of specials and signature dishes. I was very excited about what was on the way, the descriptions alone had kicked the taste buds into action.
Our first introduction to the food upped the excitement factor further. The Prego amuse bouche is a dainty falafel with some fresh diced cucumber, Spanish onion and tomato with a creamy sauce and it was incredibly tasty! If there had been an option on the menu for several dozen of these, I would have locked it in.
So we shared two starters, both of which presented beautifully. First up was a duo of seafood – Moreton Bay bugs and Fremantle octopus with rocket, semi sun dried tomatoes and eggplant. I liked the elegant arrangement of the pieces of octopus, which were just so tender, along with the crisp slices of eggplant and slightly charred Moreton Bay bugs, pre shelled for your eating ease. The rocket added some colour to the plate and the peppery greenery paired well with the succulent seafood and sweetness from the tomatoes. This dish was a real salute to seafood, cooking it well and matching it with carefully chosen ingredients, which enhanced overall flavours, but really let the seafood shine.
Next up was the porcini tortelloni with truffle butter and fresh truffles. Heavenly. This dish was heavenly. Pasta is one of my very favourite things. Three handmade porcini mushroom filled tortelloni lined up along the rectangular plate in a welcome pool of truffled butter and was topped with an indulgent amount of shaved fresh truffle. It was love at first bite. That truffle butter was a seriously special sauce and added another level of luxury to the mushroomy goodness of the porcini pasta. And that pasta just melted in your mouth. How delightful is good, homemade pasta? It was a wonderful dish and it was funny because the first thing GG and I had said when we finished it was that we wished we had some lovely bread to ensure that no trace of the sauce was left behind. Speaking to Chef Joseph later we discovered that has proven to be a popular thought, but he tries to remind people that they still need to save room for mains and dessert at this point! It is hard because it actually seems like a crime not to lick the plate, albeit that it would not have been a particularly lady like thing to do.
Ahead of mains arriving we were introduced to the joy of rocket sorbet. Just loved it. So refreshing and definitely not a sorbet flavour you try every day.
Now the signature dish at Prego is their twice roasted duck, served with a wedge of polenta, roasted cherry tomatoes, green beans and a decent drizzle of porcini jus. It’s a really generous serving of duck and I was so entirely excited about launching into that perfectly crispy skin. Knife and fork at the ready and it was all systems go. I so enjoyed the results of the two stages of roasting. It meant the skin was well rendered and at one level had a softness, but at the same time the top level was pure crispy goodness. Supremely well seasoned and with some of that on your fork and a chunky piece of the succulent duck with an eager dunk in the jus, it made for a very memorable mouthful. I can appreciate why this dish is flagged as the signature item of their menu because I am sure it is incredibly popular! The chosen veg added crunch and sweetness and I also enjoyed the piece of polenta too, as it provided a welcome means of ensuring that none of this sauce was overlooked. Very lovely duck dish and this duck fan gave it an appreciative two thumbs up.
Our second mains was the fish of the day, pink snapper with roasted cauliflower, peas, orange, olive tapenade and tamarillo, and it was a vision. I loved the printed plate and how all the elements had been so carefully arranged around it. The snapper itself had been well cooked, was so fresh and I thoroughly enjoyed all the creative ingredients it had been paired with. Made for some really different flavour profiles depending on what you forked on together. Loved it with the refreshing sweet orange wedges, tasted amazing with the herbaceous olive tapenade and who knew how vibrant snapper would taste with some tamarillo! Wow! I liked how it may have seemed like a hap hazard arrangement of many different ingredient, but it was very well considered and the contrasting flavours spoke volumes. It was another solid dish and a creative spin on what you can pair with snapper.
Along with these two mains they’d also snuck out one of their salads. And it was a haloumi salad so I must have been giving off a strong “I really love haloumi all day every day” vibe. I assume I always am, but haloumi doesn’t often magically appear. It was pretty fabulous that it did on this occasion. I loved how my favourite squeaky cheese had been seasoned and pan fried so it had a delicious crispy outer coating. It was refreshingly matched with slices of tomato and some vibrant purple onion and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Delightful. Good ingredients done well.
We were definitely on the fuller side of comfortable at this point, but thankfully there was still some room for dessert…. Isn’t there somehow always room? One of life’s happy mysteries right there. Again I just loved what Chef Joseph had done with this dish. A pretty arrangement of sweet treats from the elegant pannacotta with a sprinkling of pistachios, to a wedge of decadent chocolate tart with a few slices of orange to cut through the richness, then some pieces of always indulgent baklava and crunchy biscotti. There was a welcome contrast of textures to this tantalising tasting plate. Crunchy and creamy and chocolatey and fruity. Plenty going on and with deft moves of spoons and forks it soon disappeared.
It had been a thoroughly enjoyable meal and I was grateful for the chance to chat briefly with the very busy Chef Joseph. With his Italian and Israeli background, combined with studying French cooking techniques, it gives him leave to get creative with many ingredients and Mediterranean flavour combinations, plus all his sauces are seriously on point.
Their motto really says it all. This place is lovely and their mission to make you happy with their food is destined for success with the talent and passion they have in the kitchen. I really look forward to heading back soon. I will mention that they offer a special on Tuesdays to Fridays of a five course degustation menu (lunch: $49.90 and dinner: $57.90) which is exceptionally good value and you can have the duck for your main! Definitely one to remember for some delightful and delicious week day dining!
My thanks to the Prego team for the invitation to dinner.