Thursday, 18 October 2012

Too much of a good thing

I almost cried when I received in the mail a birthday gift voucher to eat at Restaurant Amuse in East Perth.  I've wanted to experience a degustation for years now, but have never been able to justify the expense.  It was the perfect present and I felt and still feel so blessed to have such thoughtful and generous friends. 

The decor is simple but the service was prompt and professional.  While the staff may not have been as warm as we've experienced at other restaurants, they were highly efficient, cool and polite - and everyone who spoke to us knew everything there was to know about what they were holding!  Not that the food itself wasn't good, but I can see where a lot of the $200 charge per head (or $125 without wines) could be applied.   

Shortly after you're seated you're given a sealed menu - this gives you the option of keeping it sealed and allowing yourself to be surprised, or having a look ahead of time.  We decided to wait until we were about halfway through before opening it:

It's not drool, I swear!
If I tried to go through each dish individually, we'd all be here longer than the 3.5 hours they recommend you allow!  In short, about a third of the dishes were amazing, a third were nice but nothing special and the remaining third were forgettable.  For both of us, the outstanding dish of the night was the smoked egg with pinenuts and 11 mushrooms.  The egg was a soft but cooked consistency and it was, as we soon discovered, quite literally smoked!

They weren't kidding!
It's creamy, smokey and full of flavour.  My only small criticism is that I think the chicken stock and pieces of skin made it a little heavy handed on the salt, but this dish was quite possibly the first one that made us sit up and pay attention.

The wines were paired perfectly with each dish and I think if you are only going to do this once, or once in a very long time (as I would), then it's well worth the extra expense, even if you do as we did and share one person's wine course between two.   

The presentation couldn't be faulted and while none of the dishes were unpleasant,  I can't say that each one of them was a knock out and for my limited stomach space, there was just too much of it.  I believe that if you're going to charge $200 for one meal, it should be near unforgettable and not for quantity over quality.  I would have happily paid half the cost for one-third of the dishes and walked away completely satisfied and possibly more impressed. 

I don't mean that it wasn't a wonderful experience, though.  It certainly was - tasting the flavours of each dish through the paired wines, learning the background to each dish, knowing I was trying something unique/seasonal..  I've never experienced anything like that before and unless I win the lotto, possibly never will again.    

In short: did I enjoy myself?  Yes.  Would I go back?  No, but that may not be because Amuse did anything particularly wrong (though perhaps if all the dishes were as delicious as the smoked egg I may feel differently).  It's just that it was quite possibly the first time I have walked away from a meal genuinely thinking of starving people in Africa: there are people out there who can't afford a dollar for food.  I spent $200 for more food than I could comfortably consume and some 3 weeks later, still feel deeply ashamed for the extravagance.

But don't despair, it'll pass; and no doubt more quickly than it should.
- Mr Bennett (Pride and Prejudice) 

The shorts

Restaurant Amuse on Urbanspoon

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