It’s hard to put into words good service when you come across it in Perth, mainly because it is such a rare anomaly that when you do happen to stumble upon a restaurant that exudes brilliance in their service you’re left speechless. Quite simply put the level of service at No.4 Blake Street was attentive from start to finish.
The decor manifested a chic elegance for such a modest little restaurant that it wasn’t hard to envision its transformation into a sidewalk cafe by day.
For the purpose of discovering the chef’s design and technique we opted for the full dining experience, a 5 course menu with matched wines. The amuse bouche of rabbit with an orange infused pumpkin purée created a high expectation for the night ahead. The citrus was understated and did not detract from the hero of the dish, the rabbit! The Chef had cast a culinary spell and drew us in with this humble amuse bouche.
The al dente a King George tortellini nestled in a grape fruit velouté and drizzled with basil oil was a good compliment to the starter. The hint of sweetness and acidity from the grape fruit balanced well with the basil oil and King George.
Chef Tom Randolph later revealed that the inspiration for his changing menu comes from the use of local produce and being able to take simple everyday ingredients and transform them into gastronomic works of art.
Each wine accompaniment was exquisitely matched and complimented each course to absolute perfection.
Tom also explained that not every dish will appease every dinner and this was true of our dining experience on the night. But ultimately it is his job to create and inspire with the seasonal ingredients that he sources and for the most part he did just this!
No 4 Blake Street – Average overall rating (based on food, service & atmosphere): 7.6/10
1. Buttered yabbies, blood orange gel, boudin noir, purple potato crisp served with Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, Adelaide Hills
Ordered by: Mel, KL, Alex
Average rating: 8.2/10
KL – The yabbies were well cooked, even a fraction undercooked, but still tasted lovely. I was surprised that they didn’t taste too rich even though they were cooked in a butter sauce. The yabbies were placed on top of small parcels of blood sausage which were an interesting complement to the dish. It was more moist than morcilla and tasted like a delicious savoury brownie. The purple potato crisp was too thick and chewy however had this been paper thin, it would have worked well as a texture contrast for the dish.
Mel – This delicate and inviting dish of beautifully prepared yabbies was surprisingly light given they were cooked in a butter sauce. I loved the citrus hit added by the intense orange gel and the savoury richness from the boudin noir. The purple potato crisps were a cut a little thick to be able to enjoy the crunch they were set to provide, however I thoroughly enjoyed this dish and would certainly order it again.
2. Air dried venison, beetroot variations, devilled egg with vanilla and “confit” garlic served with Burge Family, « Olive Hill » GSM 2005, Barossa Valley
Ordered by: Joey, Emer
Average rating: 8/10
Joey – being fourth generation South African I believe my expectations of any air dried meat is exceedingly high which is brought on by my bias that South Africa produces some of the world’s best “biltong”. Chef Tom Randolph did not fail in his version of air dried venison which still remained moist and flavoursome. The beetroot was done 3 ways, a meringue, a foam and a jelly and all 3 versions of this modest root had a sweet delicate flavour. I was ready with keen eagerness for my main meal!
Emer – Having selected this entrée for the venison initially, I was pleasantly surprised when the beetroot outshone it for me! The venison was beautiful, full of flavour, and with just the right balance from the confit, but the three beetroot dishes stole the show, the egg was a somewhat unexpected addition, but all in all the dish was a delight to enjoy, very well thought out and presented attractively.
3. Goat’s cheese ‘Gnocchi’, aromatic oils, baby herbs, borage blossom, tomato water served with West Cape Howe, Riesling 2012, Mount Barker
Ordered by: Rickie
Average rating: 7.5/10
Savoury yet sweet - the “gnocchi’ was cooked perfectly, an interesting texture the taste which was not overpowered in any way by the sweet tomato water (transparent quite a surprise).
Main Course (ranked):
1. Ranger valley beef flank, textures of parsnip, poached quince, brandy braise served with Burge Family, “Olive Hill” GSM 2005, Barossa Valley
Ordered by: Mel
Average rating: 9/10
After perusing our personalised menu I was initially torn between ordering the beef and the lamb, however with 2 of my fellow diner’s selecting the lamb ahead of me, my decision was made easy. And I am forever grateful! This dish was beautifully presented and there was almost nothing on the plate that wasn’t perfection. The subtle, sweet flavour of the creamy parsnip puree, crunchy parsnip crisps and roasted parsnip combined perfectly with melt in the mouth beef flanks and deliciously sweet poached quince. The only flavour that I questioned was the slightly burnt crisps, however, suprisingly, the burnt flavour still worked well with the dish. Adding to my delight was seeing that the beef flank absolutely remained the hero.
2. Pan fried Coral trout, smoked sardine pate, samphires, mussels and Chenin emulsion served with Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2010, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Ordered by: Emer, Rickie
Average rating: 6.5/10
Emer – Coral trout is a dish I can’t go past on a menu and No 4 did not disappoint, the fish itself was cooked perfectly, well-seasoned and again a great balance of flavours. I felt the sardine pate added enough salt to the dish without the samphires; the mussels were perfect and I love the quirkyness of the squid-ink sauce to resemble shells.
Rickie – The fish was cooked perfectly, the sardine delicious, all-over well seasoned and considered dish. Whilst I enjoyed the mussels/ Chenin emulsion, in a way these elements felt like a separate dish.
3. Chicken stuffed with Perigord truffle, summer corn, popcorn, pickled shimeji, porcini foam, mushroom paper served with Marq, “the Wild Ferment” Chardonnay 2011, Margaret river
Ordered by: Joey
Average rating: 6/10
Joey – when this dish was placed in front of me the aromas that filled the air sent my appetite buzzing with delight. The chicken was “almost” perfect and the only reason for my rating was the speckle of blood when I cut into a membrane – an unfortunate discovery. Regrettably with chicken I can be quite pedantic. Another negative was the mushroom paper, whilst texturally the concept was very clever indeed, the salt content was overpowering. But apart from a few minor flaws the dish did present well and perhaps could have been the dish of the night if it had not fallen prey to these little imperfections.
4. Lamb, declination of chickpeas, bell pepper puree, smoked yoghurt served with Clare Wine Co, Shiraz 2011, Clare Valley
Ordered by: KL, Alex
Average rating: 5.5/10
KL – This dish was poorly executed as the main component, the lamb, was too chewy and sinewy. I wasn’t able to swallow the centre of each section of lamb on my plate. I believe the wrong cut was used. The chickpeas were undercooked and the chickpea roll was bland and soggy. The crisp on the plate was very salty and the bell pepper sauce lacked the punch I expected. The best part of the dish was the smoked yoghurt sauce which would have tied the dish together if all other components had been well executed.
1. Chocolate Garden: Valrhona chocolate mousse, salted peanut, dacquoise served with Capricho de Goya, Moscatel, Navarra, Spain
Ordered by: Rickie, Joey
Average rating: 9/10
Joey – I have a chocolate addiction – so when the menu presents any chocolate dessert this will always be my first option. So, yes I intend being overly dramatic when summing up this heavenly dessert – the chocolate garden was a playground of little angels dancing on my tongue. Each layer perfectly complimented the next and when I got all the way through with one enchanting spoonful of all the delicious layers I just sat back and took in the moment. I could have scored it a perfect 10 but sadly the depth of richness stopped me from finishing my dessert (I can assure you this does not happen often).
Rickie – I could not stop thinking about this desert the following day – it was incredible! More rich than sweet, the different textures in the layers of the ‘pot’ made for a fun desert I will be re-visiting the restaurant for to have again!
2. Winter Jar: Tonka bean and vanilla pannacotta, burnt orange jelly, malted crumb, cinnamon ice cream served with Quinta Do Pego, LBV 2007, Pinhao, Douro Valley, Portugal
Ordered by: Alex, KL, Emer
Average rating: 7.5/10
KL – The flavours for this dessert were well constructed with the pannacotta being well set, creamy and rich. The malt crumb tasted like honeycomb pop rocks and the overall dish was not overwhelmingly sweet and had the right amount of contrast with the burnt orange jelly.
Emer - I loved everything about this dish, the fact that the waitstaff spritzed the air with a butterscotch fragrance before serving it only added to the assault on the senses. The pannacotta itself was perfectly set, with a subtle vanilla flavour, and the burnt orange worked well with it, while the pop rocks just added to the overall fun of the dish – a great way to end the evening.
3. Rhubarb, white chocolate cremeux, orange ash, blood orange served with Faber, “El Sol” Semillon 2009, Baskerville, Swan Valley
Ordered by: Mel
Average rating: 7.5/10
Despite being on a winning streak, having unknowingly picked Chef Tom Randolph’s favourite entree and main, I’ll admit to a little food envy when the desserts came to the table. Fragrances of butterscotch filling the air and potted plants of rich chocolate mousse celebrating the fun and sense of humour of the brains behind these dishes. But even with the other desserts hitting the ‘wow’ factor for amazingly creative presentation, my comparatively humble little rhubarb dessert wasn’t far off the pace. Tart rhubarb with decadent white chocolate cremeaux and intense blood orange sauce, in one word, yum. But it was the playfulness of the unexpected toffee nut brittle hidden under the cremeux which made this dish, and No 4, a winner for me.
The overall experience at No 4 Blake Street started on a high note but it may just have set the tone a little too high as we all had a bag of mixed emotions for the mains. The evening did peak once again with desserts playful inclinations.
No 4 Blake Street is a definite must try and as all the members of the FDC present on the night agree, we cannot wait to unravel the pleasures behind No 4 Blake Streets other dining options i.e. a Sunday brunch or perhaps an afternoon high tea.